Jennifer Barclay

Jennifer Barclay

Jennifer Barclay is a Chicago-bred actor-turned playwright, recently relocated to the DC area where she is a member of Arena Stage’s Playwrights’ Arena 2017-18. Jennifer is the winner of NNPN’s 2016 Smith Prize for Political Theatre for Ripe Frenzy. Ripe Frenzy was developed while Jennifer was a Fellow in residence at the MacDowell Colony, and was workshopped at Woolly Mammoth in November 2016, and Ojai...
Jennifer Barclay is a Chicago-bred actor-turned playwright, recently relocated to the DC area where she is a member of Arena Stage’s Playwrights’ Arena 2017-18. Jennifer is the winner of NNPN’s 2016 Smith Prize for Political Theatre for Ripe Frenzy. Ripe Frenzy was developed while Jennifer was a Fellow in residence at the MacDowell Colony, and was workshopped at Woolly Mammoth in November 2016, and Ojai Playwrights Conference and PlayPenn/NNPN in 2017.

Jennifer’s plays been produced and developed by Steppenwolf, La Jolla Playhouse, The Old Globe, Woolly Mammoth, Center Stage, RedCat, The Kennedy Center, The International Theatre of Vienna, The Edinburgh Fringe, Teatro Vista, Moxie, Stage Left, The Source, Samuel French, Piven, Remy Bumppo, Red Tape, Collaboraction, Theatre of Note, and others. Her plays include Danny, Obscura, Freedom, NY, The Human Capacity, Plunder, Red Helen, The Attic Dwellers, Eat It Too and The Exile of Petie DeLarge. Her site-specific work includes the car play, The Carpool, which was commissioned and produced by La Jolla Playhouse, and Counterweight: an elevator love-play, produced in La Jolla Playhouse’s inaugural WOW Festival. Her community-based work includes Emancipated, developed with The Old Globe, and An Experiment, commissioned by the Physics department at the University of Maryland.

As an actor, Jennifer has performed at Steppenwolf and Court Theatres in Chicago, The International Theatre of Vienna, The Edinburgh Fringe, and has toured her one-woman show, Clearing Hedges, nationally and internationally.

AWARDS: The Goldwyn Writing Award, Kennedy Center National Science Playwriting Award, Pinter Review, Princess Grace finalist, O’Neill National Playwrights Conference Finalist, Heideman Award finalist, and Northwestern University’s Mary Margaret Linn Theatre Award. FELLOWSHIPS: MacDowell Colony, The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, The Hawthornden International Writers Retreat in Scotland. COMMISSIONS: LaJolla Playhouse, Center Stage, The Old Globe. RESIDENT PLAYWRIGHT: Shank Playwright in Residence at South Coast Repertory 2009-10, Playwrights Collective at Center Stage 2015-16, Arena Stage Playwrights’ Arena 2017-18.

Jennifer is a graduate of Northwestern University (BS with Mary Zimmerman, Frank Galati, David Downs, John Logan) and UC San Diego (MFA with Naomi Iizuka). Jennifer is an Assistant Professor of Playwriting and Performance at the University of Maryland and an NNPN Affiliated Artist.

Upcoming: world premiere of RIPE FRENZY at New Rep (Boston) and Synchronicity (Atlanta).

Plays

  • Ripe Frenzy
    Ripe Frenzy, winner of the 2016-17 NNPN Smith Prize for Political Theatre, is having a 2018 National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere at New Rep in Boston, Synchronicity Theatre in Atlanta and Greenway Court in LA.

    Ripe Frenzy is set in a small town in upstate New York, where the high school is famous for having done the most productions of Our Town of any school, ever. On opening night of...
    Ripe Frenzy, winner of the 2016-17 NNPN Smith Prize for Political Theatre, is having a 2018 National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere at New Rep in Boston, Synchronicity Theatre in Atlanta and Greenway Court in LA.

    Ripe Frenzy is set in a small town in upstate New York, where the high school is famous for having done the most productions of Our Town of any school, ever. On opening night of the school’s 40th production, a student open fires with an AR-15. Time is slippery as the play submerges us in the before, during and after of the shooting, using Our Town as a framework to examine what has become our new American norm. Told from the perspective of the mothers of the town, the play questions our own culpability in the perpetuation of mass shootings in our country.

    From the beginning, Barclay has been collaborating with projections designer Jared Mezzocchi to embed media design into the text as its own subversive character. The play challenges us to investigate the ability of media to spread our current national contagion.

    You can read the Boston Globe preview article for the New Rep premiere here:
    https://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/2018/02/20/this-fictional-town-consequences-school-shooting-are-all-too-real/EwAYDh6Lo4NNSGTeT3r3jK/story.html

    You can read the American Theatre article featuring Ripe Frenzy here:
    https://www.americantheatre.org/2018/04/02/plays-about-guns-with-varying-aims/
  • Yellowstone: the ballad of the red-state white man
    In a run-down shack at the edge of Yellowstone National Park, there’s a motley crew of white male working-class Trump voters-- played by a racially diverse all-female cast. Jack, a grizzly out-of-work miner has the opportunity to get his America back by leasing his land for fracking, but his betterment is dependent on convincing his nemesis neighbor Wayne to also sign a lease. A brutal comedy about patriarchy,...
    In a run-down shack at the edge of Yellowstone National Park, there’s a motley crew of white male working-class Trump voters-- played by a racially diverse all-female cast. Jack, a grizzly out-of-work miner has the opportunity to get his America back by leasing his land for fracking, but his betterment is dependent on convincing his nemesis neighbor Wayne to also sign a lease. A brutal comedy about patriarchy, entitlement and a love of the land that challenges us to open up a true dialogue across the national liberal-conservative divide.
  • Danny
    Set in an African-American hair salon adjacent to Chicago's notorious Cabrini-Green housing project, Danny straddles two different eras within one room. The play begins in 2011; the last-standing Cabrini tower is on the brink of demolition, the neighborhood is being gentrified, and the salon is now defunct. Two sisters escape their mother's funeral to break into the place that used to be her sanctuary...
    Set in an African-American hair salon adjacent to Chicago's notorious Cabrini-Green housing project, Danny straddles two different eras within one room. The play begins in 2011; the last-standing Cabrini tower is on the brink of demolition, the neighborhood is being gentrified, and the salon is now defunct. Two sisters escape their mother's funeral to break into the place that used to be her sanctuary, desperate to find an understanding of the complicated legacy she left behind, and seeking answers about their family's involvement in the murder of a young boy. In Act II, we go back 27 years to the heyday of both Cabrini and the salon, and witness the story from the perspective of the mother and her two closest friends. Both acts use the same three actresses to explore the legacy of this place, and we are asked to piece together our own understanding of what happened. A play about motherhood, reinvention, and the place we call home.
  • Eat It Too
    Brett, an A-list Hollywood actress, was wronged many years ago in her little dump of a hometown. Now, in the aftermath of the housing mortgage crisis, she is finally ready to return home and wreak the most horrific kind of revenge. Loosely inspired by Durrenmatt’s The Visit, Eat It Too is a dark and twisted comedy that explores the fine line between the American dream and the American nightmare. How far are we...
    Brett, an A-list Hollywood actress, was wronged many years ago in her little dump of a hometown. Now, in the aftermath of the housing mortgage crisis, she is finally ready to return home and wreak the most horrific kind of revenge. Loosely inspired by Durrenmatt’s The Visit, Eat It Too is a dark and twisted comedy that explores the fine line between the American dream and the American nightmare. How far are we willing to go to get what we feel we are owed?
  • Freedom, NY
    In the year following a brutal school shooting, Justice Mayflower keeps her 12-year-old granddaughter, Portia, nestled safe at home in their garden. But their little cocoon is ruptured when Gabriel, a vibrant young Mexican, moves in next door with skulls and a shovel. Rumors ripple throughout the town, Mayflower clings onto her authority, and, in the middle of the night, Gabriel teaches Portia how to face death...
    In the year following a brutal school shooting, Justice Mayflower keeps her 12-year-old granddaughter, Portia, nestled safe at home in their garden. But their little cocoon is ruptured when Gabriel, a vibrant young Mexican, moves in next door with skulls and a shovel. Rumors ripple throughout the town, Mayflower clings onto her authority, and, in the middle of the night, Gabriel teaches Portia how to face death and celebrate life through Dia de los Muertos.
  • Obscura: a voyeuristic love story
    In an apartment building feverish with yearning, neighbors eavesdrop on neighbors, the government sends menacing letters and the past won't stop knocking. And through all the noise, Ned weaves a love story for his upstairs neighbor Salvia, luring her off to a land far far away.

    In Obscura, I am exploring public life versus private life, the inextricable interlocking of our lives with...
    In an apartment building feverish with yearning, neighbors eavesdrop on neighbors, the government sends menacing letters and the past won't stop knocking. And through all the noise, Ned weaves a love story for his upstairs neighbor Salvia, luring her off to a land far far away.

    In Obscura, I am exploring public life versus private life, the inextricable interlocking of our lives with strangers’ lives, and the theatrical equivalent of a three-ring circus. A production of the play might surround the audience with simultaneous sound and action, encouraging audience members to sneak peeks into the obstructed views within the apartments, gathering snippets of information like voyeurs.
  • The Human Capacity

    Set in East Berlin, both before and after the fall of the Wall, The Human Capacity follows the journey of a Stasi officer as he seeks redemption from the woman whose life he shattered. Both torturer and victim find themselves caught in a struggle to reconcile the horrors of their past with their hopes for the future. The play is a searing look into a society and a family in turmoil, and an exploration...

    Set in East Berlin, both before and after the fall of the Wall, The Human Capacity follows the journey of a Stasi officer as he seeks redemption from the woman whose life he shattered. Both torturer and victim find themselves caught in a struggle to reconcile the horrors of their past with their hopes for the future. The play is a searing look into a society and a family in turmoil, and an exploration of the human capacity for cruelty, perseverance, and forgiveness.
  • Tight Curls Today
    In 7 minutes of stage time, we rocket through 36 years in the life of three women who have a regular standing date under a salon's hair dryer chairs. A haunting look at friendship, motherhood and mortality.