Maureen Eris Vidal is an accomplished theater educator and actress celebrating 45 years of diverse performances in numerous stage and film productions. Ms. Vidal’s mother was a singer and she grew up around the entertainment industry, so it came as no surprise when she fell in love with theater after taking an acting class in junior high school. She continued to act throughout high school and decided to pursue a career in education based on the impact that her early theater classes had on her. Ms. Vidal graduated from the State University of New York College at Cortland with a Bachelor of Arts in 1976, and was granted her teacher’s license the same year. She began teaching for the New York City Board of Education, starting as an English teacher before transitioning to drama.
Ms. Vidal continued her education in 1979, earning 30 credits from the New School for Social Research before completing a Master of Science at Brooklyn College in 1981. In 1984, she was named chair of the women’s history department for the New York City Board of Education, and she went on to occupy other administrative positions within the district, becoming a dean in 1997. From 2002 until her retirement from teaching in 2015, Ms. Vidal returned her focus to the classroom as a drama teacher, earning accolades for her stellar ability to connect with students and helping them discover the possibilities of drama as an artistic medium.
In addition to teaching, Ms. Vidal spent many years as a member of the corps of the Heights Players Theater Company and the Gallery Players in Brooklyn, New York. She recalls playing the nurse in a Heights Players production of “Romeo and Juliet” as one of her career-favorite roles, and also held several executive roles for the company, sitting on the executive board in 1993 and as the executive in charge of arranging the company’s outreach performances for residents of homeless shelters. Ms. Vidal’s most recent role was an appearance in the 2019 film “The Fisherman’s Wife,” and she hopes to return to performing once public health statutes make it possible to do so.
Though a talented performer and a dedicated teacher, animals and animal rights are Ms. Vidal’s true passion, and she has spent decades heavily involved with numerous animal welfare organizations. She sits on the physicians’ committee of the National Anti-Vivisection Society, and is active in the Gorilla Society, PETA, the National Humane Society, Mercy for Animals, and the Doris Day Animal League. Ms. Vidal considers her work on behalf of animals to be her strongest calling, and is proud to use her voice on behalf of groups working for animal welfare.
In her leisure time, Ms. Vidal loves travel and adventure, and she enjoys skydiving, scuba diving, and whitewater rafting. She has traveled to every continent except Antarctica, and spent several months traveling the world by herself shortly before she turned 30. She plans to continue to pursue her hobbies and passions for as long as she is able, emphasizing that retirement is not simply an excuse to slow down. In recognition of her adventurous spirit and dedication to helping other discover the power of theater, Ms. Vidal has been presented with an Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award.