Jeanmarie Simpson, spring 2022

Jeanmarie (Simpson) Bishop was born in rural Arizona in 1959. Her family moved to Toronto in 1970 and she fell in love with the theatre after seeing, with her 7th-grade class, the legendary production of Godspell. Shortly thereafter, she wrote and performed her first solo show in Toronto in 1972. She wrote and performed hundreds of times (including Off-Broadway) A Single Woman about Jeannette Rankin, the first US Congresswoman. She performed the piece at CalArts as Surdna Distinguished Guest Artist in 2005 and starred in the film version that features Judd Nelson, the voices of Martin Sheen and Patricia Arquette, and Joni Mitchell’s music. After winning the Sacramento News and Review’s Best Theatrical Surprise award, A Single Woman toured 53 countries on five continents. Tony Award winner Zakes Mokae directed her as Elsa in his 2003 staging of The Road to Mecca, and in 2007, Leonard Nimoy directed her in the US premiere of Vern Thiessen’s solo-tour-de force, Shakespeare’s Will. She again toured the world with Coming In Hot, playing 19 military women. From 2011-19, she toured globally with her original solo performance HERETIC – the Mary Dyer story. In 2021, her play Pineapple and Other Options played in the Pandora New Works Festival and was staged and filmed in Phoenix, and her play The Jewish Question won Honorable Mention by the Jewish Plays Project. In 2022, she won a Living History Foundation grant for Bambino Mio – Bright Little Flame about Maria Montessori. She is the recipient of six Sierra Arts Foundation and twelve Nevada Arts Council grants to artists, a National Endowment for the Arts Theatre grant, and myriad other awards. Founding Artistic Director of Universal Access Productions/Arizona Theatre Matters, based in Arizona, Nevada, and on the company’s YouTube channel, she served on the panel for the 2023 National Endowment for the Arts Theatre Grants for Arts Projects. Jeanmarie is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographer’s Society, the Dramatists Guild of America, and is retired from Actors Equity Association and Screen Actors Guild/AFTRA.

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