February 17, 18, 19, 7pm – Theater
Tickets $20 general admission/ $15 Seniors and students


“An outstanding piece of historical theatre, powerfully acted by Norman Thomas Marshall. I highly recommend it.”   –F. MURRAY ABRAHAM, 1986 Academy Award, Best Actor, Amadeus

“When performing, Norman Marshall is John Brown. He embodies all of the Puritan warrior’s characteristics: his passion, his toughness, his piety, and, above all, his uncompromising commitment to human rights.” -DAVID S. REYNOLDS, author of John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights

“He is an artist and intellectual and his passion for Brown is authentic and deeply-rooted. A descendant of slavemasters and klansmen, Norman is perhaps the quintessential ’race traitor’–a white southerner from Virginia (the state that murdered John Brown), armed-to-the-teeth with a larger-than-life wit and wisdom which he well uses in his own struggle against injustice, and in an unabashed defense of the most misunderstood and misrepresented human rights activist of the modern era.”  -Rev. LOUIS A. DECARO, author, John Brown: The Cost of Freedom,  John Brown: Fire from the Midst of You and John Brown: The Man Who Lived

I found the portrayal deeply moving and extraordinarily accurate.  In fact, Mr. Marshall can be said to channel the spirit of John Brown in his performance”. -JONATHAN EARLE, author of John Brown’s Raid: A Brief History With Documents

“A mesmerizing show written by George Wolf Reily and Marshall, who gives a passionate performance that carries your attention in this well scripted one-man show.” –LINDA ARMSTRONG, Amsterdam News

“John Brown’s body is most certainly not mouldering in the grave. Norman Marshall has magically and marvelously brought him to life.” –PETER FILICIA, Star-Ledger , Theatre Week

“-single-handedly brings John Brown and a swarming host of his contemporaries to vivid, full-blooded life in this powerful, passionate and richly rewarding solo work.” -JOHN CLANCY, Founder, NY International Fringe Festival

“Brown assumes near iconic dimensions in this production. Marshall’s John Brown walks us vividly and compactly through the life of this extraordinary individual. This is an historical drama recreated with accuracy, accessibility and remarkable emotional depth. I can only hope that many more will be enabled to share in the world of this impassioned man who Norman Thomas Marshall so powerfully illuminates on the stage.” -PETER HINKS, Lecturer in American History, Yale University

“ you truly forget that it’s Marshall and not Brown standing before you…” -JULIE CONGRESS,

More information and complete reviews can be read at

Solo Drama Explores Race & Justice

JOHN BROWN: TRUMPET OF FREEDOM,  a drama by George Wolf Reily and Norman Thomas Marshall. Directed by Reily, features Marshall as thirty historical characters including Brown, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglas and even Harriet Tubman.

John Brown: Trumpet of Freedom explores, through historically accurate words from “the Old Man” himself, the inner life of a man who commits himself to the destruction of slavery.  Marshall and Reily integrate old spirituals and hymns which Brown sings to illuminates his inner fire. The play’s major focus is on several episodes from his life:1-Witnessing a brutal beating of an enslaved child; 2-His guerrilla campaign in the Kansas that resulted in the deaths of five pro-slavery men; 3-The raid on Harpers Ferry; 4-His trial and execution.

In the shadow of the gallows, on the morning of his execution – a fate that he joyfully embraces – he composes a farewell letter to his abolitionist compatriots.  He is confident that his death at the hands of slavery loving State of Virginia will hasten the end of the “peculiar institution” of chattel slavery.  The play challenges the tradition of Brown’s role in history as that of a mentally unbalanced fanatic and argues that he is, in fact, a uniquely heroic figure.

Norman Thomas Marshall was born in Richmond, Virginia, the son of a Klansman and grandson of a slave owner. His colorful life includes a stint as an offensive tackle for the Richmond Vikings, a civil rights activist, and a center of a 1960’s Supreme Court case involving his expulsion from college for his political activism.

He moved to New York City in 1966 and became deeply involved in the Off-off Broadway theatre movement.  His New York debut was with the “Ridiculous” theater in the title role of Ronald Tavel’s “Gorilla Queen” at the Judson Poets Theatre.  He performed in Tavel’s Obie Award winning “Boy on a Straight Back Chair”, “Blood Wedding” with Raul Julia, “Of Mice and Men” with F. Murray Abraham, Jackie Curtis’s  “Amerika/Cleopatra” opposite Harvey Fierstein (who played his mother-in-law), and “Charlie Was Here & Now He’s Gone” with Joe Morton and Robert Guillaume. His film and television work includes many appearances on Daytime Dramas (soap operas) and in film roles opposite Burt Reynolds, Barbara Streisand, and Fritz Weaver. He spent eleven years as the Artistic Director of the No Smoking Playhouse in New York City.

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Posted in John Brown, Moonstone Arts Center Events, Performance, Theater