Monét Noelle Marshall

A digital introduction to the actor/director/dancer/puppeteer/choreographer currently known as Monét Noelle Marshall. 

 

From "Triangle art director encourages people to find purpose"

“The question I’ve been asking people is: What would you be doing when all the wars are over?

“The question is, do you give your life over to that [struggle] — basically sacrificing your life — or do you say, ‘I’m going to live my best life because I believe that what I’m meant to do — my passion and my purpose — can also serve to make a better world.”

...If there were no wars and no need to unveil the struggle of marginalized people, who knows what Marshall would be doing. You could probably still find her on a stage, performing history, helping other people tell their stories and creating experiences for others to learn and understand.

But the wars wage on. Cyberbullying is still an issue. Racial tensions are still high. People around the world are dying for many unthinkable reasons.

For that reason Marshall will continue on, center stage, as she continues to empower the community.

“What I’m more interested in is how to create creative citizens,” she said. “If we have creative citizens then we can have creative problem solvers.

“But it starts with us having the confidence that our ideas matter.”
Two regal Black women assumed center stage. Smartly dressed and owning the space, Monet gently coaxed the youth to the floor. “Could all of the young people and young at heart please join me down here on the mat?” The kids took their places with no hesitation, scooting around and making room for one another. Watching them as they hungrily awaited instruction from these beautiful women invoked an image of village Elders passing on their wisdom. Before them stood two highly accomplished women boasting college degrees, acting careers, and entrepreneurial success. An instant bond formed between the ladies, children, and families, setting the tone for the remainder of the afternoon. One by one, hands shot up with questions. The future stars were anxious to soak up all that the women had to offer. In that exchange lay an unseen, selective trust between the families and the dynamic duo. Because these women looked like them, spoke like them, and seemed to understand them, the children were open to the knowledge they could impart. Language and a sense of humor really opened the pathways for the children to open up to Kalilah and Monet who were not only down to earth, but also recognized the wonderful creativity within each child. They expected the best from the children which led to positive responses.
Monet Marshall, artistic director of MOJOAA Performing Arts, observes that the theater community is “not very quick to self-assessment” about the stories it produces and the ones it ignores. But, she’s quick to add, “it’s not a malicious thing. We often get comfortable telling the stories we’ve been telling, producing the playwrights we’ve been producing, working with the actors we’ve been working with.”
— Indy Week, August 26, 2015

 From "Building A Black Arts Community In North Carolina"- An InTerview on WUNC's The State of Things with Frank Stasio

Marshall has three hopes for the forum: networking between black artists, connecting black artists with the business sector in the Triangle, and inviting white allies to be included. One of the issues they hope to address is the idea of norms when it comes to theater and the world of art.
JL: What is the most significant opportunity—or challenge—facing the theatre field, and how can we address it together? MNM: I think the most important word in that question is “we”. We, as theatre lovers and practitioners, need to take a moment to stop looking out at our audience and start looking around at ourselves. We have a diversity issue. Period. We are not creating an environment that allows younger artists, artists of color and artists from working class families to create sustainable lives in theatre. So they leave the field and we lose their voices and their genius in a time when we need them most. And then we have the audacity to look out at our audiences and wonder why they look so homogenous. This is not new but it doesnt hurt any less. But we can do address this! Our goal should not be more diversity initiatives but that we get to a point where diversity is ingrained into the missions of every single organization AND we have supported so many diverse theatre artists and companies that they are sustainable on their own. But that takes real work. It takes personal responsibility. It takes looking around room and asking who’s not here, why aren’t they here and how can I change that? It takes asking hard questions and being receptive to real answers. And it may even mean asking some of our long term donors and funders to give to someone else. Gasp!

JL: What is the most significant opportunity—or challenge—facing the theatre field, and how can we address it together?

MNM: I think the most important word in that question is “we”. We, as theatre lovers and practitioners, need to take a moment to stop looking out at our audience and start looking around at ourselves. We have a diversity issue. Period. We are not creating an environment that allows younger artists, artists of color and artists from working class families to create sustainable lives in theatre. So they leave the field and we lose their voices and their genius in a time when we need them most. And then we have the audacity to look out at our audiences and wonder why they look so homogenous. This is not new but it doesnt hurt any less.

But we can do address this! Our goal should not be more diversity initiatives but that we get to a point where diversity is ingrained into the missions of every single organization AND we have supported so many diverse theatre artists and companies that they are sustainable on their own. But that takes real work. It takes personal responsibility. It takes looking around room and asking who’s not here, why aren’t they here and how can I change that? It takes asking hard questions and being receptive to real answers. And it may even mean asking some of our long term donors and funders to give to someone else. Gasp!

“I believe in the power of theater,” Marshall said. “You can get all these different people [together] and they can live the same experience. Having people sit and listen to the perspective of six African-American men on this subject is powerful in itself,” she said. “I want people to understand it is a complex issue,” and that we cannot find solutions “until we have conversations with one another….”
— Durham Herald Sun, February 4, 2015
“The most important thing is the audience hearing these words,” Marshall says. “[Actor] Justin Peoples said he’d always wanted to be able to say these things. To give someone the opportunity to speak their truth, even through somebody else, is really powerful. We have experts in our midst, but let’s treat every person as if their voice is just as important.”
— Indy Week, February 2015

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