Quaker Martyr on the Road - 350 Years After Death
Actor Performs Solo in Grassroots Tour to Benefit Artists and Audiences with Disabilities
The celebrated one-woman show, The Joy is back on tour with winter and spring performances planned in Los Angeles, Reno, Houston, and across the eastern seabord.
The Joy is written by Jeanmarie (Simpson) Bishop, who also performs the play that examines the life of
Mary Dyer, the first colonial woman executed in the New World. Dyer was hanged on June 1, 1660, in Boston, because she was a Quaker.
The play, a tour-de-force for one actor, is set against the backdrop of the brutal practices of the Puritan Church/State Government in early New England. The play is honest, painfully graphic and uncompromising in its storytelling. Rave reviews exalt The Joy as a stunning piece of work, brilliantly performed by Bishop and audiences often so moved they are on their feet cheering at the finish.
The Fellowship of Quakers in the Arts (FQA.org) published the play in April 2016.
Why so much interest in a play about the life of a woman who died more than 350 years ago? Well-known and celebrated Quaker author/publisher Chuck Fager (afriendlyletter.com) produced a performance of The Joy and said, "This is a story that has inherent interest: a woman's agonic journey to self-realization, even via an ultimate act of self-renunciation. It has plenty of drama: death-defying transatlantic voyages (they all were in those days), a tumultuous marriage; tragic childbirths and losses; religious fanaticism (of more than one variety!), and a storyline involving religious persecution of women -- it's "history ripped from the headlines." The play, written well before our recent political earthquake, is still entirely timely a response. The writing and performance are transfixing, shocking (with no "cheap theatrics"), and uplifting without a whisper of the mawkish."
"Choice is the essence of Mary Dyer's story," Bishop said. "Mary has given me the courage to take the time to engage in deep discernment before making most choices. It's been a long, winding and vital road. My insight - more a revelation - is that choices make us whole. We are powerful when we choose things, as opposed to having them thrust upon us, and being forced to accept them. Even hard things - even being executed - when it's our choice, is liberation. I think about that every day now, and it's a gift Mary gave to me."
Jeanmarie (Simpson) Bishop is Founding Artistic Director of the Universal Access Productions. She wrote and performed hundreds of times the play A Single Woman, about the life of the first US Congresswoman and pacifist Jeannette Rankin. She 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 Theater 40 in the American premier of the solo tour-de-force Shakespeare Will, produced by Leonard Nimoy. She is highly regarded for her performance portraits of heroic women in modern and historic times.
For more information and to book performances, visit https://jeanmariesimpson.wordpress.com/marys-joy
The Joy is produced by Universal Access Productions, a 501(c)3 non-profit company that creates film and stage to film accessible to everyone, regardless of physical ability. UAP's mission is to "empower people with and without disabilities, those under-represented in mainstream theatre, as artists and patrons within a system from which they have been traditionally excluded."
SCHEDULE (more dates and details to come)
December 10 Santa Monica, CA
January 5-20 Reno, Nevada
February 4 Houston Texas
March-April Eastern Seabord
May Toronto, ON Canada
June Virginia City, NV
July Reno, NV ARTOWN