MICHAEL HAGINS ON THEATRE ROW: Marquise Neal – “A very important story that needs to be told”

Marquise Neal interview by Jen Bush

Marquise Neal portrays Terrell Brown in an exciting new piece called, A Shot Rang Out.  In Kindergarten when most children are playing with blocks, Mr. Neal knew he was destined for the stage.  “At the age of five years old I knew performing was going to be a passion of mine. Then at age eight I was doing background roles and singing in a group called Special Ensemble back in my hometown, Newark, New Jersey. From there, that’s where I found my love for performing. There is something about connecting with an audience that brings out the joy in my performance whether that’s doing a monologue or singing my favorite song. I love putting a smile on people’s faces, especially in a performance because people are escaping from their reality to watch someone else’s. There’s someone in that audience that shares the same passion as I do so why not give it my all and share this experience with them.”

Michael Hagins’ WORLD PREMIERE:
A Shot Rang Out. Thursday, June 23 @ 8:00 pm; Theatre Row Studios (Theatre 2).
Thursday, June 23 @ 8:00 pm; Theatre Row Studios (Theatre 2) , NYC
Produced in association with the Downtown Urban Arts Festival
A white police officer is trapped in a warehouse during an increasingly violent protest with a scared Black teen and a disgruntled schoolteacher.

Mr. Neal was drawn to this play because he wanted to be a part of this very important story that needs to be told.  “This play makes the situation the three characters are in seem as if it actually happened in real life. There’s a lot of coverage in the media about police brutality and innocent young men, children and women being harassed and murdered by the police. Everyone needs to hear this story because it’s never going away, history is always there and unless we come together and bring change to the world then it only gets worse. Coming from an all black neighborhood this topic isn’t new to me, it’s sad we still have to go through these unjustified murders and still go on about our day. It has to stop and it has gotta stop now.”

 Mr. Neal’s creative process involves scrutiny of the script as well as taking into account the reality of what is fictionalized in the script.  “My creative process is pretty simple, I like to look over the script to make sure I’m not missing any key details for my character, Terrell. But because this story hits close to reality, I can look outside of the script and look at all of the police brutality that happens here in America to set myself present in the current timeline of A Shot Rang Out.” 

 This play deals with serious subject matter and Mr. Neal feels a responsibility to honor the veracity of the narrative.  “I do feel an added responsibility in a way, because this subject is such a serious problem in the world you don’t want to make a mockery of it in front of your audience. There’s people in the back that’s still facing police brutality and probably won’t make it in the media. During the lockdown of 2020 when Brianna Taylor and George Floyd happened it sparked a new outrage within the community because it was like we were going backwards instead forward within the time.” 

 There’s no masking how Mr. Neal feels about the pandemic.  “What’s different? The mask mandates. What should be different? The mask mandate.”

 Mr. Neal has faith that more projects will come his way.  Given his track record starting at the age of five, we’ll take it on faith that he has a long and fulfilling career ahead of him.  “As of right now, I’m not sure what’s next for me, but I do know God has something in store for me.”

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