ANN MARIE SHAW known as “Mimi” to her family, Ann passed away at her home in Santa Fe, New Mexico on April 7, 2016 after a long and fulfilling life. Ann was born June 26, 1930 to Clifford M. and Helen Dryden Shaw in Wilsonville, NE. Ann was dedicated to teaching and enriching the lives of children by introducing them to theater. She distinguished herself as a writer, speaker, researcher, consultant, program developer, college and university professor. Her particular interest was in creative or improvisational drama; she consulted with the Institute for Development Studies in Harlem where she trained teachers to use creative drama to help children with special needs, she spent her life as a champion for them.
Ann excelled in school and graduated with honors from Wilsonville High School. She graduated from Colorado Women’s College where she studied acting and directing. She went on to complete her Master’s degree in Theatre at Northwestern University and her Ph.D. at Columbia University. Her dissertation was considered groundbreaking in creative drama. She taught at various institutions of learning, such as Evanston (IL) Public Schools, Western Michigan University, Hunter College (NY), and Queens College of the City University of New York.
Her early childhood years in Wilsonville were spent enjoying small town experiences with imagination and creativity which led to her love of theater, music, and writing. One of her fond memories was of working at the soda fountain at the Dryden Pharmacy where her mother was the first female pharmacist in Nebraska. Ann was smitten with the theater by the age of 4 when she won first prize in an amateur song and dance contest. In 1983, she received the Outstanding Educator Award from the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington D.C. In 1985, Ann was awarded the Alumni Merit Award from Northwestern University. She was recognized as an international leader in the field of drama for children and the handicapped. In 1984 she directed the World Festival of Theater for Young Audiences at the World’s Fair in New Orleans. In the mid-1950’s, Ann’s summers were spent heading up the costume department for the Central City Opera in Colorado where she made an occasional on-stage appearance. It was here that she became acquainted with world-famous opera singers who became lifelong friends. Ann later worked at D’Oyly Carte Opera Company in Colorado and in costume execution for new productions at the New York City Opera.
In 1965, Ann traveled to Paris as a US delegate to the first International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People (ASSITEJ) meeting to promote worldwide children’s theater. ASSITEJ is an international association dedicated to the theatrical art of theatre for young people. In 1981 ASSITEJ/USA was incorporated and Ann was elected Founding President and served in other positions over the years. Today, the Ann Shaw Fellowships through ASSITEJ/Theatre for Young Audiences/USA are annual awards to support career development in theater, particularly for young audiences. Later she contributed to the writing of a history of ASSITEJ. She was deeply involved with this worldwide organization for 31 years. She spent many years of her life living in a beautiful brownstone apartment on Riverside Drive in New York City. In 1991, Ann retired and moved to Santa Fe, where her first friends were from St. Bede’s Episcopal Church. She was involved in the flower guild, lector training, was on the Vestry, and was involved with children’s programs. She loved cooking and entertaining both in New York and Santa Fe with her many friends from all walks of life. She made friends through regular attendance at the Santa Fe Opera, the Lensic Metropolitan Opera simulcasts, and other cultural activities. In 2008 Ann moved to El Castillo where she met many new friends who shared her love of the arts.
Ann was an intelligent, funny, generous, and kind woman who loved life, people, cats, music, and making people laugh. She made everyone she met feel important and appreciated. Ann Marie Shaw was the kind of person one meets only once in a lifetime and she will be greatly missed. Her family extends heartfelt thanks to the staff of Coming Home Connections for their professional, loving and compassionate care. Services will be held at St. Bede’s Episcopal Church on Saturday, April 16th at 2 pm. A reception will follow in the church hall. Donations in Ann’s memory may be given to St. Bede’s Church, the Santa Fe Animal Shelter, Coming Home Connections, or ASSITEJ/TYA/USA.
– Dionne Russell