Jeremiah Clay Neal

Performing Artist

claybyrd9@gmail.com

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Biography

Jeremiah Clay Neal is a writer and performing artist originally from Las Vegas, NV. His parents (Jay and Cindy) worked as a musical duo named 'Harmony and Me'. At an early age, both Jeremiah and his sister (Harmony) began performing with the family act. His mother later took a job teaching drama and english, while his father continued performing as a solo performer, and worked part-time with Rainbow Company Children's Theatre. 

"My parents were world-class performers! The best 2-person musical act I have have seen, and I think those who got a chance to see them would agree."

As early as elementary school, Jeremiah and his sister could be found performing at school talent shows singing one of Disney's newest hit songs, or an acoustic adaptation created by their dad. Jeremiah took his first acting role at 8 years old as a chorus member in Jack in the Beanstalk at the Rainbow Company Children's Theatre. In between school and rehearsals, his mother would give him piano lessons and offer him ten bucks to learn and memorize a song in 1 week. 

"I wasn't a big fan of the piano. I liked drums. My dad bought me some sticks and a drum pad and I set up comic books, helmets and tin cans in my room. I would put on my headphones and play to CCR and other classic rock for hours. After about 2 years of this... They bought me a drumset! What were they thinking?"

As a teen, Jeremiah continued to perform as an actor both with Rainbow Company and the high school theatre. His favorite roles growing up were Tom in Tom Sawyer, Stephen in Godspell, and The Cheerleader in Bleacher Bums. He continued to improve as a drummer and joined his sisters band Agape when he was 16. Around this time, he began to learn guitar from his father and perform as a drummer for a local megachurch.

"I definitely wanted to write songs, but I couldn't do that from the drums. I finally talked my dad into showing me a few things on the guitar and it came very natural to me."
 
During college, Jeremiah worked as a youth minister for Central Christian Church as the leader of the drama and music ministries. He wrote over 75 sketches for weekly services and produced 4 full length plays along with writing his first album as a songwriter "Claybyrd". After graduation, he began working as a teaching artist for Cirque Du Monde, a program teaching social circus skills to at-risk youth in the Las Vegas area. He moved to Tempe, Arizona in 2005 to pursue an M.F.A. in theatre for young audiences.

"Grad school changed my life! It was one of the best decisions I've ever made. It was hard, but I grew so much as an artist and a person."

In Tempe, Jeremiah continued to write plays designed for young audiences. In 2006, his play Somewhere Else was presented at the International Theatre in Society conference in Edinburgh, Scotland and his play Breaking The Silence was performed at the American Alliance for Theatre in Education conference in Vancouver, B.C. In his off time, Jeremiah would perform in the local college bars as a songwriter and began to get involved in the open mic community.

"I was just trying to escape from school and meet some new people. I wanted a gig, so I handed out demos and played every open mic I could find. I got hired to play a set at an irish pub call McDuffys. The guy offered me $25 bucks to play 3 songs. I ended up playing 5 or 6 nights a week for the next 6 years." 

In 2006, while attending a conference in Indianapolis, Jeremiah performed a few songs from a new musical called U:Bug:Me! at the playwrights slam. It quickly gathered interest from the Coterie Theatre and was professionally premiered in Kansas City in 2007. It recieved a second professional production a year later at First Stage Theatre in Milwaukee, WI and was published by Dramatic Publishing in 2009. Jeremiah's adaptation of The Kid Who Ran for President, a book by Dan Gutman, was produced at The Rainbow Company Children's Theatre in Las Vegas in 2008, and later published. 

"The skills I was learning performing music in the bars came in handy as a playwright. I learned a lot from noisy rooms..." 

After graduation from ASU in 2008,  Jeremiah continued to work as an actor, playwright, and musician in the Arizona. He was a touring actor with Childsplay Inc. in 2010 for the role of (Lion/Capo) in Androcles and the Lion; performing 150 shows in 9 months all around the southwest. He also toured with Phoenix Theatre's Cookie Company in 2011, all while performing nightly in local bars as a musician. 

"I would always throw a couple originals in the set... everyone knew all of the other songs, and everyone else could play or sing them better than me! Original songs were the only thing that made me different."

In 2012, Jeremiah moved to New York City. He took a job waiting tables, and began performing at local open mics. His college-based musical 'Dis'Orientation' was produced by Collegiate Empowerment and toured college campuses in the mid-atlantic region. Due to a sudden illness of his father, Jeremiah returned to Las Vegas in 2013 where he remained until his father's passing the following year.

Jeremiah returned to New York City in 2014. He began working with a close friend opening a cocktail bar in Brooklyn called The Topaz. In 2015, Jeremiah served as sound engineer for the national tour of Fancy Nancy, produced by Vital Theatre Co. NYC. He cofounded an open mic at The Topaz, and has served as sound engineer for the off-broadway show Wild Women of Planet Wongo! His musical 'Dis'Orientation' was published by Collegiate Empowerment earlier this year, and his plays for young audience continue to be produced throughout the country. 

For direct links to original plays:

U:Bug:Me!
The Kid Who Ran for President