The primary Stages Off-Broadway Oral history Project

Celebrating the visionaries who created New York's vibrant Off- and Off-Off-Broadway theater.

Norman Thomas Marshall

Norman Thomas Marshall

Founder of the No Smoking Playhouse, Actor, Playwright
Born on Friday, April 28, 1939

Interviewed on: Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Location: Primary Stages Offices
Interviewed by: Sally Plass
Interview #2
"Off-Off-Broadway was so welcoming and so open to anything…I think 2 or 3 of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen anywhere were Off-Off-Broadway."
Norman Thomas Marshall Highlights
Video Length: 4 minutes, 38 seconds
Norman Thomas Marshall
Video Length: 1 hour, 46 minutes

Norman Thomas Marshall is an actor and was active in the Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway movement in the 1960’s. He is the founder, and for 10 years was the Artistic Director, of the Merry Enterprises Theater Company. He is also the co-founder, with George Wolf Reilly, of the No Smoking Playhouse, which was active from 1974 to 1985. His Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway acting credits include: THE GORILLA QUEEN (1967), SNOW WHITE (1967), BOY IN THE STRAIGHT-BACK CHAIR (1969), VINYL VISITS AND FM STATION (1970), CHARLIE WAS HERE AND NOW HE’S GONE (1971), THE BROKEN PITCHER (1981), MANDRAGOLA (1986), and BLOOD KNOT (1993). He also worked with the Westbeth Playwrights Feminist Collective, where professional women playwrights produced feminist plays. Marshall co-wrote a one-man drama with Reilly titled JOHN BROWN: TRUMPET OF FREEDOM. It centered on John Brown writing a farewell letter to his compatriots in the Abolitionist Movement. The plays, containing 31 characters, were all portrayed by Marshall. It premiered Off-Broadway at St. Mark’s-in-the-Bowery on October 21, 2004.

Marshall was born in Richmond, Virginia. His New York debut was as Queen Kong in Ronald Tavel’s THE GORILLA QUEEN at Judson Poets’ Theater, which later moved to the Martinique Theatre. He has also worked on film and television series; his film credits include: Rx for the Defense (1973), Shamus (1973), and For Pete’s Sake (1974). His television work includes: “Kojak, “As the World Turns, “Texas, “The Guiding Light, and “The Edge of Night.”  In addition to doing voiceovers, he has also written episodes for “Sesame Street.” He has taught at the East Stroudsburg State University in Pennsylvania and the Rutgers-Newark Theatre Program in New Jersey.

Mentioned in Interview

Ronald Tavel, Al Carmines, George Wolf Reily, Neil Flanagan, Bernadette Peters, Ron Faber, William Perley, Lou Trapani, Marvin and Anne Einhorn, Shelley Rogers, Cathy Roskam, Ed Wode, Tony and Abigail McGrath, Kevin O’Connor, Moses Gunn, Eric Krebs, Raul Julia, F. Murray Abraham, Robert Patrick, No Smoking Playhouse, Merry Enterprises Theater, Martinique Theatre, Westbeth Playwrights Feminist Collective, Caffe Cino, WPA Federal Theater Project, Astor Place Theater, American Place Theatre, Joseph Jefferson Theatre Company, Off Center Theatre, Primary Stages, The League of Independent Theaters, Judson Poets Theater, BOY ON THE STRAIGHT-BACK CHAIR, THE GORILLA QUEEN, JOHN BROWN: TRUMPET OF FREEDOM, DICK DETERRED, A FUNNY WALK HOME, AND THEY PUT HANDCUFFS ON THE FLOWERS, HOME IS WHERE YOU HANG YOURSELF