“…I sat transfixed, as if it was all there, unfolding right before us…when she finished, the long standing ovation seemed a wholly inadequate response.”

Chuck Fager, writer and editor Former director of the Quaker House, Fayetteville, NC

“All is revealed in Simpson’s sensitive and insightful portrayal of Dyer searching her conscience and her memories,  during those final hours of her life.”

Western Friend magazine ‘Quaker Plain Speech and Spirit in the West’

“Heretic” leaves us hurting in a personal way for Mary and her estranged husband William and their children, but beneath the emotional foundation this play is a study of free thought and freedom to worship.”

Kevin S. Giles Sky Blue Waters Press

“For me, the beauty of this play lies in its elegant simplicity and above all in Simpson’s powerful, nuanced performance.”

A note from the audience


Notes from the audience

“Quakers generally avoid superlatives, but Jeanmarie was spectacular.”

The play takes place in the last moments of the life of Quaker Mary Dyer, executed by the Puritan Church/State Government in early New England. The creator-performer of HERETIC said, “I have come to consider Mary Dyer the Mother of the First Amendment. It is because of her terrifying and selfless act that we enjoy the freedom of speech and to worship as we choose.” The play is honest, painfully graphic and uncompromising in its storytelling. Reviews are uniformly raves and audiences love it.

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 (featuring Gilda Radner, Eugene Levy and Martin Short). She performed dozens of roles in regional theatre and stock in the US and Canada and began directing while still in her teens.

Jeanmarie is Founding Artistic Director of the Nevada Shakespeare Company (NSC), from which she retired in 2008. With NSC she directed many projects, wrote original works and played myriad parts including Maud Gonne in Sailing to Byzantium, Gertrude in Hamlet, Lady M in Macbeth and Elsa in The Road to Mecca, directed by Zakes Mokae. Jeanmarie wrote and performed more than 300 times (including a run Off-Broadway) the play A Single Woman, about the life of first US Congresswoman and lifelong pacifist, Jeannette Rankin. She also starred in the film version that featured Judd Nelson, the voices of Martin Sheen and Patricia Arquette and the music of Joni Mitchell.

In 2007, she appeared at the historic Beverly Hills Theatre 40 in the American premiere of the solo tour-de- force Shakespeare’s Will, produced by Leonard Nimoy. With Shannon Cain, co-editor of the anthology Powder: writing by women in the ranks from Vietnam to Iraq, Jeanmarie conceived the notion of creating a stage version titled Coming In Hot. Following an adaptation and rehearsal period of nine months, the play opened at Tucson’s Rhythm Industry Performance Factory in September 2009. Simpson began an international tour of Coming In Hot in March of 2010, taking it throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.

She was commissioned by the Be the Change project to create a piece based on interviews with Dreamers; Liberty’s Children premiered at the Potentialist Workshop in Reno, Nevada in March 2014. She toured with her original solo performance work, Mary’s Joy, from 2011-2014. The piece explores the life and struggles of Quaker martyr, Mary Dyer, hanged in Boston in 1660. Jeanmarie now performs the play under a new title, HERETIC. She is a retired member of Actors’ Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild/AFTRA, the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers and the Dramatists Guild of America. She lives with her husband, Dan, in a cottage with a garden in Glendale, Arizona.