Marc David Wright
At YouthMundus, we aim to not only be a platform for music, film and global change, but for the artists and global changemakers who create them. Our Artist Spotlight series aims to create a space for discovery of new, budding global talent, while simultaneously offering you an exclusive glimpse into their creative process. In this week’s edition, we’re excited to introduce Marc David Wright, an emerging experimental actor and playwright based out of NYC!
Born and raised in Bayonne, New Jersey, Marc David Wright followed his dreams across the Hudson to train at Fordham University, where he graduated with a B.A. in Theatre Performance. Studying in the heart of Lincoln Center, as well as abroad at the London Dramatic Academy, allowed Marc the unique experience to learn his craft first-hand from an abundance of expert theatre professionals from both sides of the Atlantic.
New York evolved into Marc’s “artistic safe haven where [he] was constantly challenged to expand [his] creative toolkit as a performer, director, writer, and producer.” His latest project combined “[his] admiration for New York artistry with [his] lifelong obsession with all things Christmas.” The blueprint for Marc’s project began when he was in his teens: “Since I was 16, I’ve done an annual countdown to Christmas through Instagram posts, and after many stagnant months in quarantine, this year felt like an opportunity to turn my silly hobby into a legitimate endeavor!”
Thus, ENTERPRISE 25 was born! The project serves as a cinematic advent calendar that counts down the days until December 25, featuring dozens of young, queer NYC artists. Each day, a new video on our Instagram account, @enterprise.25, will highlight stellar artists doing what they do best, but with a special holiday twist. Marc’s diverse team consists of drag queens, dancers, songwriters, visual artists, fashion designers, circus performers, musicians, makeup artists and more. Marc looks forward to releasing the first installment of his project as the holidays near: “We are having a blast filming safely and responsibly throughout New York, and you can expect some heart-warming holiday high jinks when the first video debuts December 1.”
What inspires you and your creative process?
My biggest source of inspiration is my collaborators. I can't keep anything a secret. If an idea strikes I always have to bring in other people in order to really get my creative juices flowing. Working alone on something--for instance, hunkering down and writing a play--never clicked with me. I have some genius friends who are amazing at what they do... let's create together! It's always more fun that way. My biggest pet peeve of a rehearsal room is that everyone has to 'stay in their lane'... don't get me wrong, there's no one in the room who knows lighting design better than the lighting designer, or costumes better than the costume designer, however I've been lucky to find myself surrounded by true 'multidisciplinary' artists who just want to make the best piece possible, and we are always going to each other for suggestions or notes or opinions. Growing up, I fell in love with theatre because it was where I made friends... now I love theatre because it's where I make cool things with my cool friends.
What is the connection between your art and social justice?
I believe it is almost impossible to make something in 2020 without it being inherently political. The universe has felt caught in a tumultuous moment for so long. There have been so many 'end of the world' jokes this year... but it's honestly seemed like it's been 'the end of the world' for a while now. We've been in free-fall waiting for some grand final catastrophe where we finally hit the pavement and this place implodes at long last. Being creative has both heightened and healed that sensation for me.
To quote one of my favorite acting teachers, "Theatre isn't therapy, but it can be therapeutic. Theatre isn't politics, but it can be political". This is a great reminder: your art can't fix everything. It can be a great motivator, and it can be a flame that ignites your social justice fire, but it can't do all the work for you. You can't escape into the 'woke' art you've made and call it a day... real life is still happening outside of that rehearsal room and it's going to take a lot more to change things than your play/film/piece... no matter how good it is.
What inspired you to pursue acting, playwriting, and theatremaking? What were the challenges you overcame in this? I was in my first musical when I was 4. It was just always the place I could be unabashedly myself as I grew up and felt like I couldn't be myself in other environments. Any 'social norms' I had to conform to at school or any queer signifiers I had to shield from my family... all those pressures disappeared when I went to theatre camp/class/rehearsal. I would say that theatre is the only place I've always been myself. So I think subconsciously I told myself: this is where you belong. Never let it go. And so, here we are! What's been the most rewarding part of being an artist for you? Do you have any advice for future artists? There is no feeling in the world more rewarding than being proud of your work. Regardless of what people's opinions are, nothing anyone says or thinks can take away how proud you are of what you accomplished as a team. I had a bit of an epiphany my senior year of college: it was opening night of my directorial debut (a studio production of Carlos Murillo's queer technological thriller "Dark Play or Stories For Boys") and as the audience started filing in... I realized that I was already celebrating. I didn't need to hear anyone's encouragement or congratulations. People could dislike it if they wanted to. No matter what was to come, I was so monumentally proud of my team and what we discovered and learned creating that piece. I didn't need validation... the care of creating it was all the validation I needed. And then it went on to go to Edinburgh Fringe and get some great reviews (we were even named "1 of the 10 Must-See LGBT Shows" at the Fringe)... and that was all wonderful. But that wasn't the reward, that was just the icing on the cake. My biggest piece of advice I have to remind myself of all the time: If the work is not the reward, it's not worth your time or talent.
Press video of Dark Play at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe Festival
(directed by Marc David Wright)
Do you have any advice for emerging queer artists like yourself?
It is the go-to, most boring answer in the universe, but REPRESENTATION. Including queer people on your creative teams, in your administration, in your casts, in your stories... it makes a world of difference. And I'm not just talking about cis, white, gay men like myself--we're not exactly a minority in the entertainment business--queerness is fiercely diverse, and bringing in different queer people and perspectives will only make your work better.
I recently made an Instagram account dedicated to highlighting world-changing historical/artistic/scientific achievements by queer people that we were never explicitly taught. The Mona Lisa? A queer person did that. The Scientific Method? A queer person did that.
Accomplishments that shaped the course of history... if we had known growing up that these were done by queer people, imagine what could've been different. Imagine how much earlier we would recognize queerness as the force that it is, rather than something to be teased on the playground.
Queer representation is essential in large and small scale: in textbooks, on stages, on screens, in offices, in classrooms, etc. You can start with that play you're casting, or that theatre administration position you're looking to fill. Give a magical queer a chance... I promise they'll kill it.
Want to keep up with all of Marc's upcoming projects?