Information for Researchers
Scope and Content of Collection
The Bancroft Library
Title: Neil Marcus papers
Marcus, Neil, 1954-
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS.2011/247
10 linear feet
7 cartons, 3 boxes, 1 oversize folder
Date (inclusive): 1945-2020
Date (bulk): 1958-2016
Abstract: The Neil Marcus papers document his life and work as a writer, actor, artist, dancer and disability rights activist from his
early childhood through his adult life. There is incoming and outgoing correspondence; writings, including materials related
to his play
Storm Reading; subject files; photographs; a small amount of audiovisual material, and web files.
Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information
on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.
Language of Material: Collection is in English.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The Neil Marcus Papers were given to The Bancroft Library by Neil Marcus in 2011 and 2017.
No future additions are expected.
System of Arrangement
Arranged to the folder level.
Processed by Lauren Lassleben and Marjorie Bryer in 2017 and 2019. Digital files processed by Kate Tasker in 2016 and completed
by Christina V. Fidler in 2022. The digital materials from Neil Marcus were received on one 5.25" floppy disk, two CDs, twelve
CD-Rs, one CD-RW, seven DVDs, thirteen DVD-Rs, one DVD+R, one external HD, one Facebook capture done on 2016-05-05, one Flash
drive, one website capture (blog post), one Youtube channel capture. The files were scanned for viruses using Malware Bites.
Forensic disk images of the source media were made by Library staff using AccessData FTK Imager 18.104.22.168. The disk images were
saved to preservation storage. Archivists extracted and analyzed the files in FTK and also screened material for personal
identifiable information (PII) and protected health information (PHI). Five optical disks contained duplicate content, and
six optical disks could not be imaged due to file corruption.
Information for Researchers
Conditions Governing Access
Digital folders 002, 006, 008, 025, and 043 contain files with restriced information and are closed to researchers until 2072.
Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
Access to digital materials is available on-site and by appointment only. Digital materials can be accessed by requesting
the corresponding Digital Folders.
Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted
by terms of University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing
and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires
the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission
of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user. All requests to reproduce, publish, quote
from, or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library,
University of California, Berkeley 94720-6000. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html
[Identification of item], Neil Marcus Papers, BANC MSS 2011/247, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.
The Bancroft Library would like to express its appreciation to the following people for their valuable assistance in processing
Neil Marcus and his siblings, Kendra, Russell, Roger and Wendy Marcus;
Neil's assistants, including Agnieszka Nowicka, Edyta Gorska, Carius Gorsky, Patrick M. Goodspeed, Shane Brodie, Scott Wallin,
Paul McCold, Jessica Feeley and Melissa Chapman.
Bancroft Library staff members Marjorie Bryer and Kate Tasker.
Alternate Forms Available
There are no alternative forms of this collection.
Neil Marcus, performance artist : oral history transcript / interviews conducted by Esther Ehrlich in 2004 (BANC MSS 2008/141)
Artists With Disabilities Oral History Project : thematic excerpts (Motion Picture 1178E)
Neil Marcus is a writer, actor, artist, dancer and disability rights activist who lives in Berkeley, California. He was born
in White Plains, New York on January 3, 1934. His parents were Wil Marcus and Lydia Perera, and he has two older sisters
and two older brothers. In 1960, the family moved to Ojai, California.
In 1962, when he was in the fourth grade, Neil was diagnosed with dystonia musculorum deforman, which progressed rapidly over
six months. Dystonia is a rare, usually hereditary neuromuscular disease that affects his muscles and speech. He had three
cryosurgeries over a five-year period, which froze a small spot on his brain, and provided some relief.
Neil attended Ojai Valley School from 1963 through 1971, and graduated as class valedictorian. He lived on campus for the
last three years of high school, and got around campus in a golf cart. After a memorable trip to Laos to visit a high school
classmate, he hitchhiked to Bellingham to attend Fairhaven College at Washington State University. He also attended Moorpark
College and Solano Community College, both in California. He wrote a regular column in the student newspaper at Moorpark
College and contributed feature stories to the Ojai Valley News. As a counselor for disabled students at Solano College,
he wrote a column for
The Rising Tide. These would be followed by his own newsletters, entitled
Special Effects and
Fantastic Spastic. He also published an annual counseling journal called
After Neil moved to Berkeley, California in 1980, he joined the nascent disability activist community based at the Center
for Independent Living. He wrote observations and biographical pieces. In addition to writing and producing newsletters,
he wrote and published articles, poetry, and a children's book,
The Princess and the Dragon. His other books include
Special Effects: Advances in Neurology and
Cripple Poetics: A Love Story.
Neil's most well-known piece is an autobiographical, two-act play entitled
Storm Reading, written in collaboration with his brother, Roger Marcus. In 1987, the brothers took the script and sheet music to Rod Lathim,
the head of Access Theater in Santa Barbara, who agreed to direct the play.
Storm Reading was such a success in Southern California that the decision was made to take it on the road. Neil, actor and sign language
interpreter Kathryn Voice, and Roger (later replaced by Matthew Ingersoll) toured the United States and abroad extensively,
appearing in such prestigious venues as the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. They also played colleges, high schools
and elementary schools around the country. The company performed
Storm Reading more than 300 times between 1988 and 1996.
Storm Reading won the Outstanding Achievement in Play Writing Award from the U.N. Society of Writers, the Critic's Choice Award, and Drama-Logue
Magazine's Best Leading Actor and Best Ensemble Awards for 1992.
Throughout the early 21st Century, Neil continued to write and to carry on an extensive correspondence with friends. An active
user of social media, he remained an integral member of the disability community in the San Francisco Bay Area. He performed
locally and traveled to Europe and Australia. Neil served as a guest lecturer on arts and disability, and co-taught a class
with Professor Susan Schweik at U.C. Berkeley entitled Disability and Digital Storytelling. He collaborated with Professor
Petra Kuppers on the Olimpias Disability Culture Projects. Neil prepared his personal papers for transfer to The Bancroft
"Somewhere in my life I came to the conclusion that the image of fear and doom associated with disability needed change.
After all I was disabled, I was probably going to continue being disabled and I wanted to enjoy my life and my future. I
guess I just happened to stumble into the arts. I mean, I saw that images of disability were confining because they lacked
artistry. Further, when I acted with an artistic purpose, it made me feel good."
Scope and Content of Collection
"The message we [people with disabilities] often get in society is that we are worthless, unimportant beings. This is a lie.
We are glorious, essential, intelligent human beings, deserving of absolutely the best from life."
The Neil Marcus Papers provide ample proof of Neil's words. Neil has turned a serious disability into a lifelong meditation
on and appreciation of what it means to be a member of the artistic and disability activist community in the latter half of
the 20th Century and the beginning of the 21st Century.
Because the papers document his life beginning in early childhood, it is possible to trace his life and career from his student
days until the present. The wide range of his friendships and interests as well as his family life are well documented in
the wealth of outgoing and incoming correspondence found in Series 1. The collection also includes Neil's active web presence
as documented in his YouTube channel archive and his Facebook account data.
The earliest writings in the second series are his speech as high school valedictorian and his college admission essays.
Within a few years, Neil segues into a newspaper columnist, and then a newsletter editor and publisher of his own and others'
work. He has experimented with many kinds of writing, from observations about life in what he calls "Disabled Country" to
helpful hints for those writing about disability ("Tips for the Linguistically Correct").
One of the most interesting sections of the collection documents an intensely creative period during which the play
Storm Reading was written, rehearsed, produced and toured around the country and abroad. Neil's descriptions of the extreme physical effort
it took for him to perform while on tour are balanced against the pleasure he found in the stellar reviews, awards and the
ecstatic fan mail he received from adults and children alike. This series includes videotaped performances of the play.
Series 4., Subject Files, demonstrates Neil's wide range of interests, everything from the first picture of a disabled athlete
to appear on a box of cereal as a Wheaties Champion to a detailed medical diary and notes from the years 1962 to 1973. There
are also folders containing biographical information, descriptions of physical therapy sessions with Israeli physicist Moshé
Feldenkrais, programs from local performances and coursework from his years at the Ojai Valley School.
Series 5 contains photographic materials that document Neil's family, friends, and artistic work.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Marcus, Neil -- Archives
Artists with disabilities -- California
Performance artists -- California
Performance art -- California