Dramatists Guild Legacy Member

Marjorie Bicknell


The Dramatists Guild mourns the loss of playwright Marjorie Bicknell, who served as the regional representative for theatre writers in the greater Philadelphia area.

A Guild member for 12 years, Marjorie was the author of an award-winning adaptation of Frankenstein, Joint Custody, The Family Room, and The Boys Club, which was the winner of the 53rd Annual John Gassner Award for Playwriting. Marjorie was also the founder of the Playwrights Alliance of Pennsylvania. She was President Emeritus of the Philadelphia Dramatists Center. From to 2018 until her passing, she served as the Philadelphia Regional Rep of the Dramatists Guild of America.

When not writing plays, Marjorie was a creative director, copywriter, and the owner of Bicknell Creative, an advertising creative services boutique. She won 40 awards for her work including an Echo, a Mobius and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Philadelphia Direct Marketing Association. Marjorie held an M.A. in Speech/Theatre from Northwestern University.

There will be a memorial to honor Majorie's life and legacy at a later date, to be determined. Her funeral will be a private event.

May Marjorie's memory be a blessing.


In Her Own Words:

"I first fell in love with the theatre at the age of 6 when I saw a high school production of The Student Prince, and I've been working in the theatre whenever and wherever I can ever since. I got a B.A. in theatre and english from Mundelein College, Chicago and an M.A. in Theatre/Speech from Northwestern University in Evanston Illinois. My career began in my hometown of Chicago, Illinois where Iworked as Readings Director of The Chicago Playwrights Center for two years and later became a company member of Pary Production Company, eventually serving as its Managing Director.  While at Pary, I wrote my first play, an adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which was produced by Pary and was the winner of three Joseph Jefferson Awards.

I moved to Philadelphia in 1983, and became a regular member of the company of actors at Society Hill Playhouse working with Jay and Dean Kogan and Susan Turlish. I was one of a group who helped Robert Hubbard to found Theatre Center Philadelphia’s Black Theatre Festival, which ran successfully throughout the 1980s and served on the Center’s board for three years. I was also one of the original members of Christopher Ruston’s Playworks, and was a member of the Walnut Street Theatre’s Playwrights Circle. While living in Central Pennsylvania, I needed to be with a group of playwrights, so I founded the Playwrights Alliance of Pennsylvania (PAPA) a 501c3 non-profit organization that works to develop playwrights throughout the capital region of the state, provides educational workshops, and organizes staged readings of new works in conjunction with the Original Cicada Festival of Mount Gretna, Open Stage of Harrisburg, Gamut Theatre Group and Hershey Area Playhouse.

Since returning to Philadelphia from the capital region in 2016,I have become an active member of the Philadelphia Dramatists Center and am currently serving as its President. Among the full-length plays I have written are The Family Room winner of the Pennsylvania Playwrights Award and nominated for the Weissberger Prize by Open Stage of Harrisburg, The Boys Club, a 2012 TNT Pops! Winner, and Finalist. 2016 CSC Women Playwrights Series, Centenary Stage Company, and which reached the final 100 at PlayPenn in 2016 and 2018. My 10-minute plays have been produced hundreds of times from coast to coast. Frankenstein is published by Heartland Plays, and my short play, Another Conversation will be published by Dramatic Publishing this year. I live with my husband, Ed Shapiro in the Art Museum Area of Philadelphia.

In addition to writing plays, I love to act, direct and sing.  I'll do just about anything to help create theatre including painting sets, scrubbing floors and cleaning the toilets! Most of my plays have to do with family.  Some of the families are joined by blood others by circumstance, but the relationships are generally familial.  More recently, I've been writing about frustration.  How the world seems to conspire to hold us back and how we have to overcome circumstance again and again. Many of my plays are serious, but I am particularly drawn to comedy.  It's much easier to teach a lesson with honey than with "vinegar." I really believe that we are on the verge of a new golden age of drama here in the USA.  All we need is better PR!"