"STORM READING" a play by Neil Marcus
Neil Marcus, the author and lead actor of the play, has a condition called dystonia. In this excerpt, the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation wants to place an advertisement in the playbill which defines Neil's illness from their point of view. Neil has a different point of view.
Pictured from top to bottom: Kathyrn Voice, Neil Marcus, Matthew Ingersoll.
Matt: Neil, the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation is interested in your show.
Kathryn: They think you are a great role model.
Matt: They see STORM READING as a great vehicle to tell the world about your condition.
Kathryn: They want to put an ad in your playbill. It reads,
(Ad appears on the screen and Matt reads it)
The Dystonia Medical Research Foundation:
Playwright Neil Marcus suffers from dystonia, a rare neurological disorder in which powerful involuntary muscle spasms twist and jerk the body into unusual postures.
The playwright is afflicted with "generalized dystonia," (dystonia musculorum deformans), the most severe and painful form of this disorder. It denies his ability to speak, stand, walk and/or control sudden and sometimes bizarre movements.
(Neil interrupts Matt here)
Neil: Wait a minute. If they think that they can say anything they want, think again. For years I've been under the medical microscope. I've been called: twisted, paralyzed, tortured, afflicted, horribly disabled, disfigured, unintelligible and confined to a wheelchair.
No one asked me what I thought. Now it's time for the world to hear my story, in my terms.
(Matt reads it aloud)
Meditations on Dystonia:
Playwright Neil Marcus has flourishing dystonia, a neurological condition which allows him to leap and soar and twist and turn constantly in public, thus challenging stereotypes of every sort and making him very interesting to watch and sit next to during lunch hour. It rides him like a roller coaster at times.
Not much is known about dystonia. Touch, understanding and attention can be very helpful. Fear and dread are not helpful.
The playwright has "generalized dystonia," which means it is all over him like a phone line that links world nations. It makes Neil very alive, but then again, aren't we all? Perhaps dystonia is, in a way, a universal condition. Something we can all identify with. We must all become more conscious, more humorous, more insightful, more creative. We must fill our lives with grace and empathy.
(Neil raises a fist triumphantly and lets out an empowered yell)
Matt: When you walk into a room full of people
and there is a disabled person in the room
and she scares you
or makes you want to avoid him
or she mystifies you
or you want to reach out and help
but don't know how...
when this happens, you are on
the cutting edge of all liberation.
(Neil gets out of his chair and motions for Matt to sit in the chair. Neil stands next to Matt and puts his head close to Matt's head as if joined at the ear)
It is the experience of being different. It is the experience of living life from another point of view. It may be a contemplative or introspective experience. It definitely causes one to think.
People are curious about us. They wonder where we come from; what realm we live in...where we've been and where we're going.
Everyone wants to know what it's like.
See a disabled person clearly and chances are you'll see yourself clearly. That is when there are no limits. And there are no limits as to when that will happen.
It will probably happen now.
(Neil and Matt turn and look at each other - lights out)
Based on the writings of Neil Marcus. Adapted for the stage by Rod Lathim, Neil Marcus, and Roger Marcus.