Artist of the Week
Marcus Knight finds his voice onstage
Laguna Niguel News - Aliso Viejo News - 3/28/2017
Marcus Knight "is the model for special-needs students at our school and what is possible for them to do," says Aliso Niguel High School drama teacher Jeremy Golden. Knight, who has cerebral palsy and autism, was cast this year as Colonel Pickering in the school's production of "Pygmalion" and will play Papa Ogre in the spring musical, "Shrek." He is also one of three theater students nominated to represent the school for Artist of the Year.
Q How did you get involved in theater?
A I began getting involved in theater when I was at Don Juan Avila Middle School with Mrs. Jackie Simmons. My mom encouraged me to get into acting, mostly to help me with speech, socialization and to help me to express my feelings.
Q Tell us about how and why theater has helped you.
A Theater helped me use my skills and learn the ones that were not there. I was born at 25 weeks, my weight was only 1 1/2 pounds. I had traumatic brain injury at birth, severe brain damage, cerebral palsy and, at age 4, was diagnosed with autism. Most of the therapists I have to deal with since I was very little have had little or no hope for me. I was defined as nonfunctional. Since I started with theater, my speech improved. I learned how to do things, like pour water from a bottle and button up my shirt, along with the social skills that were not there for me. I learned how to communicate, and people started to see me, not my disability. In theater, I find myself. I don't feel different when I am onstage.
Q What is your favorite play/musical? Who is your favorite artist of all time and why?
A So many! "Big Fish," "Godspell," "Kinky Boots," "Thoroughly Modern Millie" and more, but my favorite musical of all is "Shrek" and I am so happy that it is our next musical. And even if I did not get the part of Shrek, I am happy that I will be in it as Papa Ogre and will be in the ensemble in other scenes. My favorite artist is Brian d'Arcy James ? I love his big voice and I hope one day I can meet him in person.
Q Who have been your influences? Did you have a mentor in your development as an artist/performer? If so, how did they help you?
A I have been influenced by my mom, who encouraged me to act, and used monologues and songs to help me with my speech. Mrs. Simmons was also very supportive, but the best of all, "the one and only" Mr. Jeremy Golden at my high school is the one I owe it all! He did not dismiss me or put me aside because I am different. He helped me to get the best of me and find different ways for me to learn.
Q What inspires you?
A I always had difficulty expressing myself. Acting and singing are the ways I can use to express myself. I have over 50 musicals on my phone and I can find the right song or monologue when I need to say something. It might sound strange, but that is a great way to express myself. I find my voice in theater.
Q The next challenge I want to take on is ?
A High school is almost over and that makes me very sad. I hope to continue in theater in college and possibly major in musical theater. It is going to be hard, but I am famous for my hard working, so I am not scared of the next challenge!
Q Other than theater, are you involved in any other activities? If yes, what are they?
A I am involved in several activities in school and out of school. My mother encourages me to be active in the community, especially in church. I sing in the church choir and the teen choir. In school, besides theater, I am in choir (you see, singing is a passion) and also very involved in culinary arts with Ms. Christina Sargent. Ms. Sargent is also one of the teachers that believes in me and encouraged me to show my capabilities and not be shy about my disabilities. I am also involved in sports. I played soccer for six years, basketball in the Spirit League and baseball with Little League.
Q How do the arts figure in to your long-term goals?
A Arts opened the door for possible careers in the future. My dream is to be on Broadway one day, but also I can use the skills I learned to do voice-over or acting in other venues besides theater.
Q What is the best advice you have received?
A The best advice I received was: "Never give up." I know that things are harder for me to learn, but if I do really want it, I can, as long as I don't give up.
Q I hope my legacy as an artist will be ?
A I want people to remember me. I want to inspire people like me. I want others to understand that no one is perfect and that we all have unique qualities. We all have that something that will make you stand out. Look inside you and you will find yours. Be the hero of your story!