Shirley Kaplan, painter, director, and playwright has worked extensively in theatre within the United States and Europe. Her paintings have been exhibited in museums and galleries including solo shows at The Stable, Terry Dintenfass, and Hacker Gallery in New York City. Her first exhibit was at a very early age at the Newcomb Macklin Gallery on 57th St. Through art historian Richard Guggenheimer at Briarcliff she received a grant to study in Paris at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere and spent four years painting in Paris during the artistically active post war period of the 1950s. Returning to New York she began to explore collaborative, visual theatre projects.
She is one of the co-founders of the OBIE-Award winning Paper Bag Players and she is the founder/director of Painters’ Theatre. She continues to work with visual storytelling and she has painted images for many of her own plays including The Connecticut Cowboy (music by Arthur Siegel, finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize), The Dream Box, Neon, and Floating Cathedral. She designed and painted projections for all of Ben Bagley’s Cole Porter Shows and created original works for an early AIP film.
She has written and directed plays at Ensemble Studio Theatre, La Mama, UBU Repertory, Playwrights Horizons, All Seasons Theatre Group, Image Theatre, Music Theatre Works, New York Performance Works, and the Zipper. She is a member of Ensemble Studio Theatre where she directed first productions of Richard Greenberg, Eduardo Machado, and many others. She has collaborated and directed with many companies developing original theatrical material and was commissioned to create a visual piece for Festival St. Archangelo in Italy with an ensemble of Italian performers.
Ms. Kaplan has been commissioned to create interdisciplinary workshops based on personal stories and visual interaction for NYC museums and has led workshops at The Kitchen. Working with The Connecticut Commission On The Arts-Project Create, her early Theatre Outreach work was part of the basis for one of the first community arts projects in the United States. She is the founder and co-Director of Sarah Lawrence College Theatre Outreach program where she also was the Director of the Theatre Program from 1988 to 2006 and continued to be on the faculty as part of the graduate theatre lab working to develop techniques in new media.
She is currently working on a series of paintings on circus and performance artists.