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. Jennifer’s...
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. 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.

Plays

  • Ripe Frenzy
    Ripe Frenzy, winner of the 2016 NNPN Smith Prize for Political Theatre, submerges us in the before, during and after of a mass shooting in a small American town. The play uses humor to examine a fraught issue, told from the perspective of the mother of the shooter. The mother, Zoe, is the town historian. She speaks to us from the ruins of the theatre, where her teenage son massacred his classmates during...
    Ripe Frenzy, winner of the 2016 NNPN Smith Prize for Political Theatre, submerges us in the before, during and after of a mass shooting in a small American town. The play uses humor to examine a fraught issue, told from the perspective of the mother of the shooter. The mother, Zoe, is the town historian. She speaks to us from the ruins of the theatre, where her teenage son massacred his classmates during opening night of the high school’s production of Our Town. The town prides itself in a tradition of biennial Our Town productions, and this would have been its 40th. Ripe Frenzy uses Our Town, the classic American play about community and mortality, as a framework to examine a community ruptured by a mass shooting. Time and space are fluid as Zoe slips between the innocence of the past (where she herds high schoolers in rehearsal alongside her two lifelong best friends and their teenage children), and the reckoning of the present (where she is in the blood-stained theatre, struggling to reconcile the son she knew with his monstrous final act, and meanwhile her friends are across town attending the funerals of their children). I’ve been collaborating with projections designer Jared Mezzocchi from the beginning, to embed media design into the text of the script and investigate the ability of media to spread the contagion of sick ideas. The projections are operated by Zoe’s son in the booth, who we never see, and so the media becomes its own subversive character in the play. Ripe Frenzy had a developmental workshop at Woolly Mammoth last month and, because the play is the winner the NNPN Smith Prize, the first core member theatre to produce the play will receive funding support from the NNPN.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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 strangers’ lives,...
    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 of the...
    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.