Cover photo for Marjorie "Marj" Ann Bicknell Shapiro's Obituary
Marjorie "Marj" Ann Bicknell Shapiro Profile Photo
1949 Marjorie "Marj" Ann Bicknell Shapiro 2023

Marjorie "Marj" Ann Bicknell Shapiro

September 4, 1949 — October 9, 2023

Philadelphia and formerly of Fairview Twp., Camp Hill, PA

Marjorie Ann Bicknell Shapiro, 74, of Philadelphia, and formerly of Fairview Twp., Camp Hill died on Monday, October 9, 2023, at the Thomas Jefferson Medical Center, Philadelphia.

She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English/Theater at Mundelein College, Chicago and a M. A, in Speech/Theater from Northwestern University, Evanston, IL.

Marj was the owner and copywriter of Bicknell Creative, an advertising services boutique. During her career she won 40 industry awards for her work including an Echo, a Mobius, and almost two dozen Ben Franklin (Benny) Awards for Excellence in Direct Marketing. Upon her retirement, Marj received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Philadelphia Direct Marketing Association.

 

Her career in the theatre began in her hometown of Chicago where she worked as Readings Director of the Chicago Playwrights Center for two years and later became a member of the Pary Production Company, eventually serving as its Managing Director. While at Pary, Marj wrote her first play, an adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which went on to win three Joseph Jefferson Awards.

 

In 1983 she moved to Philadelphia and became a regular cast member of the Society Hill Playhouse working with Jay & Deen Kogan and Susan Turlish. Marj was among a group who helped Robert Hubbard start the Philadelphia’s Black Theatre Festival at Theatre Center, which ran successfully throughout the 1980s and served on the Theatre Center’s board for three years. She was also a member of Christopher Ruston’s Playworks and the Walnut Street Theatre’s Playwrights Circle.

 

While living in Central Pennsylvania, Marj founded the Playwrights Alliance of Pennsylvania (PAPA) a 501C3 non-profit organization that works to develop playwrights by providing educational workshops, and staged readings of new plays in conjunction with the Original Cicada Festival of Mount Gretna, Open Stage of Harrisburg, the Gamut Theatre Group and the Hershey Area Playhouse.

 

Marj was known as an actor, director, and playwright. Among her many accolades and achievements, she is the author of award-winning full-length plays including the previous mentioned adaptation of Frankenstein, plus Joint Custody and The Family Room. Her play, The Boys Club, was the 2012 TNT Pops! National Play Contest Winner and the recipient of the prestigious 53rd Annual John Gassner Award for Playwrighting for 2020.

 

In 2003, she was selected the Pennsylvania Playwright and is the president emeritus of the Philadelphia Dramatists Center. A guild member for 12 years from 2018 until her death, Marj was the Philadelphia Regional Representative of the Dramatists Guild of America.

 

When not engaged in a theatre production, Marj enjoyed traveling with her husband Ed and the friendship of her two dogs, Howard and Toby.

 

Born on September 4, 1949, in Chicago, IL, she was the daughter of the late George and Ruth (Lumpp) Bicknell.

Surviving is her husband of 26 years, Edward P. Shapiro; daughter by marriage, Nadine Freet (Douglas) of Etters, PA; grandchildren by marriage, Brandon (Laura) of Mechanicsburg, Julia (John Reeve) of Mechanicsburg; her siblings, George Bicknell (Ausra) of Chicago, nephews George and Michael; Thomas Bicknell (Karen) of Grand Rapids, MI, nieces Natalie Bicknell-Argerious (John), great nephew Lucas, Brooke Failey (William), great niece and nephews Finnegan, Victoria and Maxwell, Laura Bicknell-Buszkiewicz (James) and Donna Easter (Brian) of Morton Grove, IL; niece and nephews Dustin, Julia and David.

Marj’s funeral service and burial will be a private event for the family. A future public memorial service will be held by the theater community.

May her memory be a joy to all who knew her for she was a kind, generous person who freely shared her time, abilities and knowledge to all who asked her for help. She will be dearly missed.

 

"NFA, Marj!"

 

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