Read About Our History, Arts Education, and Theater for All
By Meredith Marcinkewicz, Managing Artistic Director
Starting in 1989, I had a group called Shirley Children’s Theater. We were based mostly at the Lura A. White School and in later years, supported by the PTA. We performed plays, concerts, and musicals at various locations around Shirley. We purchased a portable sound system for use at LAW and on the road. We purchased new curtains for that stage and new bumper pads for the wall next to the stage, as well as a custom-made piano cover.
In the spring of 2004, the Children’s Theater was the first group to perform in the new Shirley Middle School auditorium. In support of the new space, I committed to raising money to purchase the sound equipment for the auditorium.
I very soon realized that I had the chance to offer performing opportunities for adults as well as children, and I could not do it alone. By the fall of 2004 a group of supporters who became our charter members came up with a name, set our goals, wrote our by-laws, and ShirleyArts! became a non-profit corporation. All of SCT’s assets were transferred to the new organization. Over the years, Shirley Children’s Theater and ShirleyArts! have purchased curtains, light instruments, lamps for the instruments, industrial fans, keyboard dust covers, storage shelves, and other needed equipment.
We continued to do shows with children, and continued to do the Christmas concerts which benefited local charities, and a fall concert which benefited the First Parish Meetinghouse. Adults and children from throughout the region began to take part in our activities.
In 2005 we produced our first teen play in the new auditorium and worked with Shirley Middle School students to take part in Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild activities. We also paid to bring professional performances to school students and we sponsored fund-raising concerts.
In 2006 we did our first adult play while continuing a full schedule of other activities.
In 2009 we produced our first full-length family musical – “Wizard of Oz.” We also had our first Music and Movement Class for Kindergarten and First Grade Students. We charged an average of $3 per hour for such classes and always had scholarship money available for those who could not afford the participation fee.
Since that time, ShirleyArts! has continued to do the Christmas Concert benefits, family musicals, a summer children’s musical, music and movement classes, and other activities. See our PAST EVENTS page for a full list and links to photos.
From the beginning, we have purchased percussion instruments like tambourines and bongos for use with children’s classes and adult performances. We received a grant to purchase ten ukuleles and have sponsored classes for children and jam sessions for teens and adults. We provided electronic keyboards that can be used in each school building and other locations as needed.
For several years, we were able to store costumes, props, and set pieces at the old Hazen Library. When that building was sold, we were able to rent storage space at Phoenix Park. We are thankful to be allowed to use the (now) Ayer-Shirley Regional Middle School auditorium and music room for performances, classes, and temporary storage. We are happy to loan costumes, props, and set pieces to ASRMS and Lura A. White schools, as well as local theater groups.
One new activity in recent years has been tap dance classes which we hope to offer again when we can access an appropriate space. We hope to add more classes for movement and voice, as well as visual arts, in the future.
We have an application form for anyone who would like to apply to lead an activity or take part in a certain kind of activity. Please join us in bringing arts education and enjoyment to the community.
To see yearly breakdown and photos from our past events, please visit our PAST EVENTS page.
Education in the Arts
Donations and fundraising efforts allow us to offer low-cost training in percussion, ukulele, music and movement, voice, dance, acting, visual arts, and technical theater for ages 5 through adult. Scholarships are available for tuition, allowing everyone to take part, regardless of income. We hope to add classes in visual arts in the future.
Check our UPCOMING EVENTS page for updates.
If you would be interested in teaching a ShirleyArts! sponsored class, send us an e-mail or fill out our PROJECT PROPOSAL FORM.
Theater for All
Some of our shows are by audition only, but for at least one children’s show and one multi-age show per year, anyone who makes the commitment to rehearsals and performances may participate in our plays and musicals, regardless of experience. We will train!
Check our UPCOMING EVENTS page for updates.
Are you interested in producing or directing a ShirleyArts! show? Send us an e-mail or fill out our PRODUCTION PROPOSAL.