Shirley Jean (Roll) Tucker: Biography

Shirley Jean was born in Medicine Hat Alberta, and grew up in the nearby town of Irvine, where she spent many idyllic summers roaming the prairie grasslands (sometimes tending sheep) or whiling away the days at Elkwater Provincial Park at the family cottage .  Always a dreamer, Shirley does not remember a time when she wasn’t involved in Theatre Arts–to real and imaginary applause.  From Bohnet’s Barn to Broadway, her first summer theatre success, written when she was eight, has found its way into the shoe-box memoir collection “When I Was A Girl.”

As a teenager Shirley did it all: wrote, designed and acted in dramatic and musical productions in Irvine and Medicine Hat.  Her role as Margot in Anne Frank, presented by Medicine Hat Community Theatre Society, garnered best supporting actress award at the Western Canada Drama Festival in Edmonton.  The play also represented the West at the Dominion Drama Festival in Toronto, where the adjudicator pronounced Margo’s role “superb.”

Shirley went on to study Education at the Uof A in Edmonton then Fine Arts at UBC and UVic.  She did further courses in Arts at the University of Western Washington.  Ms Tucker taught for many years at Salmon Arm Senior Secondary, where she established the Fine Arts Department, assisted in the design of theatre and art facilities, and developed course content and an Alumni Summer Theatre Company.

Shirley is a founding member of Shuswap Community Theatre and a proud supporter of Canadian content.  She has been involved in most administrative areas of live theatre, including president, artistic committee chair, theatre graphic designer, editor of The Prompter, fund raising chair, workshop co-ordinator and presenter.  As part of the Shuswap Theatre season, Shirley Jean initiated “Second Stage”–public play readings of possible new works for main stage.

Her greatest satisfaction has been writing, directing and designing many of her own major theatre productions.  Her unique millennium main stage production of Ratz and Alma–An Intrigue went on to be a community favourite; it was followed by The Queen Of The Shuswap; Your Loving Kind and True Jack Boy (the John Wilson story); Hey Nurse! I’ve Gotta Pee; Sowing Seeds in Danny (a musical adaptation of the Nellie McLung novel); Annie’s Solitude; and The Supper Waltz.  Works in progress include: Morning is Wiser Than Evening (a Baba Yaga musical); The Clothesline; The Last Supper of Nadya Stalin; and a novel: When The Rent Is Due.  Heritage House Press in Victoria and Nimbus Press in Halifax co-published Shirley Jean’s first non-fiction book, The Amazing Foot Race of 1921, in the Spring of 2011.

As co-founder of Shuswap Summer Theatre Shirley produced/directed/ designed many summer theatre productions.  Professionally she has designed sets, costumes and done graphic design for Jupiter Theatre Producer Voni Grinder, such as: Stardust and Look of Love.  She did set, costume and graphic design for Janet Michael in Yesteryear by Joanna Glass; produced Norm Foster’s The Affections of May for director Fran Gebhard, and Jupiter In July for Gabe Newman.  She has also worked on projects with Christopher Newton, David Hare, Dorothy Heathcoat, Tom Kerr, Caitlin Hinks, Aaron Bushkowsky, Charles Tidler, Sally Clark, . . . etc.

Shirley Jean is married and lived on a heritage acreage in the Shuswap until moving to Victoria in 2012.

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