Former performing arts co-chair passes away


Courtesy: EmersonToday

By Frankie Rowley, Content Managing Editor

Maureen Shea, the former co-chair of Emerson’s performing arts department, passed away Thursday due to an undisclosed illness. 

Shea served as the producing artistic director of Emerson Stage and directed over two dozen Emerson Stage productions, most recently directing a virtual performance of “Men on Boats” in Sept. 2021.

Shea came to Emerson in 1988, taking several roles during her time at the college. In her 34 years at Emerson, Shea was integral to the performing arts department. From 1999 to 2007, she served as the sole chair of the department, moving on to oversee the theater studies program from 2012 to 2016, and later leading the Bachelor of Fine Arts program in 2016. Shea also worked as the director of special projects for the School of the Arts. 

“Maureen will be long remembered for her artistic vision, her sense of community, and her dedication to the department and its students. Maureen was a true original, full of passion and humor. We will miss her greatly,” wrote Interim President Bill Gilligan and Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Jan Roberts-Breslin in a community-wide correspondence announcing Shea’s passing. 

Beyond her Emerson career, Shea directed numerous shows at theater companies nationwide. One of her most notable productions, “Richard III”produced by the Los Angeles Women’s Shakespeare Company—afforded her four Drama-Logue awards in 1996. Shea also served as an associate director of The Company of Women—an all-female Shakespeare company led by Kristin Linklater and Carol Gilligan. 

Shea taught at Virginia Tech in the department for Theater Arts where her production of “How I Got That Story” became a national finalist in the American College Theater Festival and was presented at the Kennedy Center of Performing Arts. 

Shea earned her BA in English from Clark University, an MA in Theater from the University of Connecticut, a Ph.D. in Theater from Ohio State University, and studied theater at the Free University in Berlin. She was also a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. 

She leaves behind her partner, Mirta Tocci, brother, Michael Shea, and sister, Kathleen Bergeron. A celebration of her life will be announced by the college at a later date. 

Emerson community members in need of support during this time are invited to visit the chaplain’s team at the Center for Spiritual Life and can be contacted at [email protected].