Neil Marcus, Whose Artwork Illuminated Incapacity, Dies at 67

Stella McDaniel

At each overall performance of his enjoy “Storm Reading through,” the writer and actor Neil Marcus provided his audience a reminder: “Disability is not a brave battle or braveness in the face of adversity. Incapacity is an art. It is an ingenious way to are living.”

Mr. Marcus, who experienced dystonia, a neurological dysfunction that will cause involuntary muscle contractions and has an effect on speech, starred in the perform, which comically illuminated how he passed as a result of the entire world in a typical 7 days, as a result of vignettes of him conversing with grocery customers, medical doctors and passers-by.

In 1988, when the demonstrate experienced its premiere at the Lobero Theater in Santa Barbara, Calif., men and women much more normally than not appeared away from those people with disabilities. “We’ve often been taught as young ones we really do not place, really do not snicker, just mainly dismiss them,” Rod Lathim, the director of “Storm Reading,” claimed in an job interview.

In distinction, “Storm Reading” encouraged audiences to giggle with Mr. Marcus about his encounters.

“Neil invited and welcomed, and in some instances demanded that men and women glimpse,” Mr. Lathim explained. “And so he brought them into his truth, which was not a actuality of incapacity it was a reality of his definition of everyday living.”

The achievement and longevity of the participate in, which toured during the state right until 1996, turned Mr. Marcus into a pioneer of the incapacity culture motion. He called his work a reclamation of personhood in a planet decided to deny men and women with disabilities their autonomy.

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

His sister Kendra Marcus stated the trigger was dystonia.

In 1987, Mr. Marcus and his brother Roger contacted Mr. Lathim, the director of Obtain Theater, a Santa Barbara business that on a regular basis mounted plays that includes disabled artists. Neil Marcus sent in excess of samples of his composing and asked Mr. Lathim if the theater would be intrigued in adapting them.

Their dialogue led to the genesis of “Storm Looking through.” Mr. Marcus, his brother and Mr. Lathim worked collectively to draft the engage in, whose forged of a few at first also incorporated Roger as “The Voice,” who portrayed Neil’s thoughts in the course of his interactions (the role was later played by Matthew Ingersoll), as effectively as a indication language interpreter.

The present was bodily taxing for Mr. Marcus. But it also invigorated him.

“There’s no drug, there is no treatment, that is, in my view, as effective as the interaction amongst a reside audience and an artist on the phase,” Mr. Lathim claimed. “And seeing Neil renovate from that was astounding.”

Scenes from “Storm Reading” ended up filmed for NBC as section of a 1989 television special about disability, “From the Heart,” hosted by the actor Michael Douglas. The forged reunited in 2018 for a overall performance at the John F. Kennedy Middle for the Accomplishing Arts in Washington.

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

Neil was 8 when he discovered he had dystonia, and he attempted suicide at 14 just after a taxing series of surgical procedures, he claimed in a 2006 oral heritage interview for the Bancroft Library at the College of California, Berkeley.

But counseling gave him assurance. He attended Ojai Valley Faculty, the place he was normally spotted zooming all-around in a golfing cart. Following graduating from higher university as valedictorian in 1971, he traveled to Laos when he returned, he hitchhiked all over the West Coastline and ultimately took courses at Fairhaven College, component of Western Washington College, and somewhere else. He moved to Berkeley in 1980 and turned active in the disability activist group there.

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

He also wrote extensively. He worked with the College of Michigan professor and activist Petra Kuppers on the Olimpias Effectiveness Study Challenge, an artist collective that spotlights performers with disabilities in performances and documentaries. Their conversations on disability as art were being posted in a 2009 essay, “Research in Drama Training: The Journal of Utilized Theatre and Effectiveness.” The two also wrote a guide, “Cripple Poetics: A Adore Story” (2008), which options poetry and images highlighting the physicality and sensuality of incapacity.

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 an additional sister, Wendy Marcus, and his brothers, Roger and Russell.

In 2014 the Smithsonian Nationwide Museum of American History commissioned Mr. Marcus to publish a poem dedicating its on the net exhibition “Everyone: An Artifact Historical past of Disability in The usa.”

His poem commenced:

“If there was a country termed disabled, I would be from there./I live disabled culture, eat disabled food, make disabled adore,/cry disabled tears, climb disabled mountains and inform disabled tales.”

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