Shirley Jo Finney, a beloved figure in the world of theater, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 74, following an eight-month battle with cancer. This loss has left a void in the performing arts community, as she was celebrated for her significant contributions as both a director and actress.
A Life Devoted to Multicultural Theater
Shirley Jo Finney’s legacy is closely intertwined with the Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles, a cultural institution dedicated to promoting multiethnic theater and dance. The Fountain Theatre, where she made her mark, announced her passing on Friday, paying tribute to her enduring influence.
A Director of Distinction
Over the span of her illustrious career, Finney directed productions at some of the most prestigious regional theaters in the United States. Notable venues included the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and the Humana Festival at the Actors Theater of Louisville in Kentucky. Her work consistently earned recognition and accolades, including the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, Ovation, and NAACP awards.
A Unique Approach to Theater
Shirley Jo Finney approached her work as a director with a unique perspective. In a conversation with The Times, she revealed, "When I work, I work in a metaphysical realm, where the cast and I take each character and go through the death, resurrection, and burial of each character." She described this process as a constant renewal of ideas and consciousness, reflecting her deep artistic commitment.
An Actor’s Director and Activist
Finney was renowned as an "actor’s director" who viewed her art as a form of activism. She often gravitated towards projects that delved into profound societal and racial themes. Her diverse body of work included directing the opera Winnie, based on the life of political icon Winnie Mandela, in Pretoria, South Africa. Additionally, she was behind "Facing Our Truth: Ten Minute Plays on Trayvon, Race, and Privilege," staged at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles.
One of her notable productions was "Citizen: An American Lyric," a collection of prose poems exploring the manifestations of racism in contemporary society. This powerful work left a lasting impact, with The Times theater critic Charles McNulty noting that it had "gotten under my skin," emphasizing its profound resonance.
A Life in Theater
Born on July 14, 1949, in Merced, California, Shirley Jo Finney pursued her passion for theater, earning an MFA from UCLA and being an alumna of the American Film Institute’s Director Workshop for Women. Throughout her career, she served as an artist-in-residence at several colleges and universities, including Columbia College in Chicago, UC Santa Barbara, USC, and UCLA.
A Profound Partnership
Shirley Jo Finney began her journey with the Fountain Theatre in 1997, with a critically acclaimed production of Endesha Ida Mae Holland’s "From the Mississippi Delta." Her collaboration with the theater spanned 26 years, making her an integral part of its artistic fabric.
A Final Curtain Call
Earlier this year, Finney directed the play "Clyde’s" at the Ensemble Theatre in Houston. Her interpretation of the work, which revolved around recently incarcerated cooks, was warmly received by the audience and critics alike, with the Houston Chronicle hailing it as an "enthusiastic interpretation."
Shirley Jo Finney’s death is a significant loss for the world of theater, and her contributions will be remembered for years to come. Her work, passion, and commitment to addressing societal issues through the performing arts have left an indelible mark on the industry.
Shirley Jo Finney Dead: Actress and Theater Director Was 74 – a headline that represents the life and legacy of an extraordinary artist.
Shirley Jo Finney’s Legacy: A Closer Look at Her Theatrical Activism
What were Shirley Jo Finney’s notable theater works?
Shirley Jo Finney’s Remarkable Theater Works
Shirley Jo Finney’s theatrical portfolio boasts an array of impactful productions. Notably, she directed the internationally acclaimed South African opera, Winnie, which was a tribute to the life of the iconic political figure Winnie Mandela. This significant production found its stage at the State Theater in Pretoria, South Africa, and resonated on a global scale.
Additionally, she helmed Facing Our Truth, The Trayvon Martin Project at the Kirk Douglas Theater in Los Angeles, a poignant exploration of contemporary societal issues. Finney’s contribution to theater extended far beyond borders and into the hearts of audiences worldwide, earning her a lasting place in the annals of the performing arts.
What awards did Shirley Jo Finney receive during her career?
Awards and Recognition
Shirley Jo Finney’s illustrious career was punctuated by well-deserved accolades. Her remarkable contributions to the world of theater earned her recognition in the form of prestigious awards, including:
- Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award
- Ovation Award
- NAACP Award
These awards stand as a testament to her exceptional talent and dedication, affirming her status as a highly regarded figure in the performing arts.
Is Shirley Jo Finney dead or still alive?
Shirley Jo Finney’s Passing
Shirley Jo Finney sadly passed away on October 10, 2023, at the age of 74 after a courageous eight-month battle with cancer. The theater community and her admirers are mourning the loss of this celebrated director.
How old was John Finney when he died?
John Finney’s Age at Passing
John Finney was 82 years old when he passed away. His remarkable journey in the world of entertainment spanned from his early days as a charismatic screen presence to his later years as a brilliant character actor. Described as a British treasure, his legacy endures through his charismatic work on both stage and screen. John Finney’s family has confirmed that he "passed away peacefully after a short illness with those closest to him by his side."
How old was Shirley when she passed away?
Shirley’s Age at Passing
Shirley departed this world on Thursday, February 17, 2022, at the West Cumberland Hospital, at the age of 78. She was the beloved wife of the late Derek and a cherished mother to Derek, Denis, and Andrew. Additionally, she was the mother-in-law of Mandy and Dawn, and a loving grandma to Jack, Henry, and Thomas. Shirley’s memory lives on as a dear sister to John and the late David and Brian.
What happened to Sarah Finney?
Sarah Finney’s Legal History
Sarah Finney gained notoriety in Warren, Ohio, as the first person to be convicted of bestiality. Recently, she has pleaded guilty to a robbery charge. Law enforcement officers tracked her down by following her footprints in the snow, which led them from a bank to her residence, located just 500 yards away.