Theatre visionary Gary D. Marshall bridging communities with affordable theatre in Rochester by Shadi Kafi

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Gary Dewitt Marshall, Edison Tech Pride & Spirit [Photos provided by Shadi]

Gary Dewitt Marshall is a visionary in Rochester. Born and raised in 19th ward, he attended Edison Tech where he discovered the Edison Tech Follies, hosts of an annual variety show, a 25 year-old tradition before the School of the Arts came into existence.

There Gary learned music performance, playing the drums. His acting journey began at Hobart College when he performed in his first play simply curious about performance. In later years Gary became aware of social justice issues — racial discrimination, police brutality, social and economic inequality and sexism — and discovered that theatre is the best way to access and articulate those issues. Gary also studied Theater Arts at the State University of New York at Albany and received classical training with Shakespeare & Company where he was introduced to professional theatre.

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The continuing curiosity to perform, led Gary to the stage in Chicago with Steppen Wolf Theatre Company, where Gary originated the role of ‘Freedom Fighter’  Michael Dube in The Song of Jacob Zulu which led to a world tour and ran on Broadway and was a Tony Award nominated drama on the subject of apartheid in South Africa. This took Gary to New York for the next ten years propelling his career in film, television and stage performances in New York and Hollywood for the next 23 years. Gary has been featured in films such as The Hurricane, Renaissance Man, In & Out, New Jersey Drive, Love Walked In, Still Water and Game Day.

Beyond his professional acting, Gary has a passion to create easy access to affordable and quality theatre to all audiences. In 2012, Gary created Dark Blue Mondaze Showcase Theater Series in Long Beach, California. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf produced in 1974 was among many shows.COLOURED GIRLS

Gary says this allowed him to fulfill his passion in having autonomy to choose plays with a compelling social justice focus.DARK BLUE MONDAZE

Community involvement brought Gary back home to Rochester where he is directing Four Men on a Couch June 16-18 at Edison Tech. The play is from the playwright Anne L. Thompson Scretchin, 9 time Jean Dal Rymple Award Winner known as the black, female Tennessee Williams, whose stories capture the voice of everyday people.

Gary chose to present the story because it presents issues of maintaining healthy relationships through a comedic dialogue which speaks universally. “It is the story of minority men with the sensibilities of middle-class life going through strife and struggle in their relationships and how they go about rectifying them or not.” Gary says. Gary appreciates how the story shows these men as vulnerable, flawed and that in that imperfection lays the beauty of redemption.couch

Gary generously says he would like to give tickets away. Advance tickets are also available on line at: darkbluemondaze.ticketleap.com  And at MOOD MAKERS BOOKS, 302 N. Goodman St, VILLAGE GATE

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Shadi performing in Monologues On Clarissa Street at MuCCC, 2/24/16 see “Porches” from Upper Monroe with Love”

Thursday 5/16 Open Dress Preview “Pay what you can”
Friday 5/17 Opening Night $10.00
Saturday 2:00pm and 7pm $10.00

Among upcoming shows Gary will direct is The Clarissa Street Reunion in August 2016, the story of the Great Migration of African Americans in the 1930s and 1940s from the South to Rochester in Monologues On Clarissa Street which will also feature at the Rochester Fringe Festival in September 15-24, 2016.

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Thanks for bringing Gary’s story to Starbucks, Talker’s off site headquarters at the Twelve Corner’s Starbucks. [Photo: Starbucks staff]

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