Jan Probst

Jan Probst

Jan Probst is a writer, actor and filmmaker. Striving to put women’s issues center stage, she jumped headfirst onto the stage in 1976, as a writer-performer and founding member of The Whole Works Women’s Theater Collective. A decade later, she combined art forms with the performance troupe Streetwise Women’s Martial Arts Theater. Since that time, her plays have been on stage at numerous venues in the San...
Jan Probst is a writer, actor and filmmaker. Striving to put women’s issues center stage, she jumped headfirst onto the stage in 1976, as a writer-performer and founding member of The Whole Works Women’s Theater Collective. A decade later, she combined art forms with the performance troupe Streetwise Women’s Martial Arts Theater. Since that time, her plays have been on stage at numerous venues in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as the Midwest, Southwest and Alaska, and have recently reached a broader audience via publication and online production. Jan has been an Artist in Residence at Z Space Studios, Playwright of the Month at Off-Market Theater, guest artist for the ATHE Annual Conference, and while earning her MFA in Playwriting from San Francisco State University, was a national finalist for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. In 2021, after a pandemic cancellation, her play Bird on a Tree Branch premiered online via zoom production by Phoenix Arts Association, received commendation from the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle and is now published by Next Stage Press. As a longtime member of the award-winning improv film company Barewitness Films, Jan has helped create many short films, working both sides of the camera. She is a member of Honor Roll! (an advocacy group of women+ playwrights over 40), International Centre for Women Playwrights, Theatre Bay Area, Theatre Communications Group, Playwrights Center, and the Dramatists Guild.

Plays

  • Bird on a Tree Branch
    It’s a spring day in April 1965. Vivian and Doug are a white, middle class couple taking refuge in their basement as they find themselves in the path of the worst tornado on record in the Midwest. They share their shelter with Hannah, a black woman they picked up at the bus stop, on their way home from church. Racial tension, misunderstanding, family secrets and regret underpin the story of this play. Civil...
    It’s a spring day in April 1965. Vivian and Doug are a white, middle class couple taking refuge in their basement as they find themselves in the path of the worst tornado on record in the Midwest. They share their shelter with Hannah, a black woman they picked up at the bus stop, on their way home from church. Racial tension, misunderstanding, family secrets and regret underpin the story of this play. Civil rights meet civil war as the trio struggle to survive this shelter from the storm.

    NOTE: The 2020 Premiere at Phoenix Theatre in San Francisco was cancelled due to the coronavirus. Subsequently, a version performed entirely on Zoom was produced by Phoenix Arts Association in 2021.

  • Just an Old Woman in a Rocking Chair
    Just an Old Woman in a Rocking Chair challenges our perceptions of the elderly, especially those whose stories we do not know. Edna is ninety-six years old, and has lived in the same small town her entire life. Told by way of conversations between Edna and her lifelong best friend, her story begins at the end, runs backward through significant moments in her life, and ends where it began.

    ...
    Just an Old Woman in a Rocking Chair challenges our perceptions of the elderly, especially those whose stories we do not know. Edna is ninety-six years old, and has lived in the same small town her entire life. Told by way of conversations between Edna and her lifelong best friend, her story begins at the end, runs backward through significant moments in her life, and ends where it began.

    Formerly: (Not) Just an Old Woman in a Rocking Chair
  • Road Trip
    Allen and Mary clash over differing views of the perfect road trip.
  • Jill and Jack
    The shocking truth behind a classic nursery rhyme.
  • The First Page
    Charlotte and Mo are afraid their dear friend Edna has dementia, while Edna just wants to go dancing with her sweetheart.

  • The Legacy of Lillian
    Two lonely people, out of step with the world, have a chance encounter on a Chicago train platform in 1965.
  • No Fences
    An older woman in a small town in the Midwest, recalls how she and her best friend survived the 1960s sexism of the town fathers with wit, humor and a fair share of moxy.
  • Just Another Day in the Country
    A surprising visitor arrives at a country estate in Victorian England.

  • Three Sisters
    After their wacky little sister makes a stunning announcement, the older two try to reel her in. Again.
  • Everybody Loves A Star
    An aging former child star engages her psychiatrist in one final performance.
  • In the Dumps
    The police sergeant finds her best friend digging through the local dump. Just who lost what and was it on purpose?
  • Water and Blood
    One young man's search for a lost brother and release from the story that haunts his family.
  • Twenty Million Steps
    A surgery scar takes center stage in this monologue detailing the excitement of how they came to be and the adventures that followed.
  • Jack and Jill Beyond the Pail
    Short riff on an old, familiar nursery rhyme. How do Jack and Jill get safely down the hill during a pandemic?

    This play was written for the Coronavirus One-Minute Play Festival, created by Dominic D'Andrea. On April 15, 2020, Jack and Jill Beyond the Pail received an online zoom reading, hosted and produced by Bevin M. O’Gara & Tyler Struble, Kitchen Theatre Company, Ithaca, New York.