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Neil Marcus, Whose Art Illuminated Disability, Dies at 67


At each individual functionality of his engage in “Storm Looking at,” the author and actor Neil Marcus presented his viewers a reminder: “Disability is not a courageous wrestle or braveness in the confront of adversity. Disability is an art. It’s an ingenious way to live.”

Mr. Marcus, who experienced dystonia, a neurological dysfunction that brings about involuntary muscle mass contractions and impacts speech, starred in the participate in, which comically illuminated how he passed as a result of the planet in a typical 7 days, as a result of vignettes of him conversing with grocery buyers, physicians and passers-by.

In 1988, when the display experienced its premiere at the Lobero Theater in Santa Barbara, Calif., people extra typically than not looked away from those people with disabilities. “We’ve always been taught as youngsters we do not point, do not chortle, just in essence disregard them,” Rod Lathim, the director of “Storm Reading through,” stated in an job interview.

In contrast, “Storm Reading” inspired audiences to giggle with Mr. Marcus about his activities.

“Neil invited and welcomed, and in some scenarios demanded that people today look,” Mr. Lathim stated. “And so he introduced them into his truth, which was not a reality of disability it was a fact of his definition of lifestyle.”

The achievement and longevity of the participate in, which toured throughout the state until eventually 1996, turned Mr. Marcus into a pioneer of the disability tradition movement. He named his perform a reclamation of personhood in a entire world decided to deny men and women with disabilities their autonomy.

Mr. Marcus died on Nov. 17 at his dwelling in Berkeley, Calif. He was 67.

His sister Kendra Marcus stated the bring about was dystonia.

In 1987, Mr. Marcus and his brother Roger contacted Mr. Lathim, the director of Entry Theater, a Santa Barbara corporation that regularly mounted plays showcasing disabled artists. Neil Marcus sent over samples of his crafting and questioned Mr. Lathim if the theater would be fascinated in adapting them.

Their conversation led to the genesis of “Storm Looking at.” Mr. Marcus, his brother and Mr. Lathim labored alongside one another to draft the perform, whose solid of a few initially also included Roger as “The Voice,” who portrayed Neil’s thoughts throughout his interactions (the position was afterwards played by Matthew Ingersoll), as properly as a signal language interpreter.

The display was physically taxing for Mr. Marcus. But it also invigorated him.

“There’s no drug, there’s no remedy, that is, in my belief, as powerful as the interaction amongst a reside audience and an artist on the stage,” Mr. Lathim mentioned. “And seeing Neil completely transform from that was astounding.”

Scenes from “Storm Reading” had been filmed for NBC as component of a 1989 television special about disability, “From the Coronary heart,” hosted by the actor Michael Douglas. The forged reunited in 2018 for a performance at the John F. Kennedy Heart for the Executing Arts in Washington.

Neil Marcus was born on Jan. 3, 1954, in Scarsdale, N.Y., the youngest of five little ones of Wil Marcus, who labored in public relations, and Lydia (Perera) Marcus, an actor. When Neil was 6, the loved ones moved to Ojai, Calif.

Neil was 8 when he realized he experienced dystonia, and he attempted suicide at 14 following a taxing series of surgical procedures, he reported in a 2006 oral record interview for the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley.

But counseling gave him confidence. He attended Ojai Valley University, wherever he was normally noticed zooming close to in a golf cart. After graduating from superior university as valedictorian in 1971, he traveled to Laos when he returned, he hitchhiked all-around the West Coastline and finally took lessons at Fairhaven College, portion of Western Washington College, and elsewhere. He moved to Berkeley in 1980 and became active in the incapacity activist group there.

He explored art through many partnerships. With professional dancers, he participated in “contact improvisation” performances, which eschewed official choreography and in its place adopted the seemingly frenetic movements of Mr. Marcus’s dystonia.

He also wrote broadly. He labored with the College of Michigan professor and activist Petra Kuppers on the Olimpias Overall performance Investigate Challenge, an artist collective that spotlights performers with disabilities in performances and documentaries. Their conversations on incapacity as artwork ended up released in a 2009 essay, “Research in Drama Training: The Journal of Utilized Theatre and Effectiveness.” The two also wrote a e book, “Cripple Poetics: A Adore Story” (2008), which functions poetry and photography highlighting the physicality and sensuality of disability.

The Neil Marcus Papers, which includes his essays, poems and correspondence, are held at the Bancroft Library.

In addition to his sister Kendra, Mr. Marcus is survived by one more sister, Wendy Marcus, and his brothers, Roger and Russell.

In 2014 the Smithsonian Countrywide Museum of American Heritage commissioned Mr. Marcus to publish a poem dedicating its on-line exhibition “EveryBody: An Artifact Background of Disability in America.”

His poem commenced:

“If there was a place named disabled, I would be from there./I are living disabled lifestyle, eat disabled meals, make disabled like,/cry disabled tears, climb disabled mountains and explain to disabled stories.”



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