Jennifer O'Grady

Jennifer O'Grady

Playwright and poet Jennifer O'Grady's plays are produced by theaters and schools across the U.S. and internationally. Her full-length plays include FERTILE GROUND (2022 Semifinalist: O'Neill Conference, Princess Grace/New Dramatists Fellowship and Panndora's Box); CHARLOTTE'S LETTERS (2020 Rising Artist Playwriting Award; 1st Place Henley Rose Award; O'Neill Semifinalist and other...
Playwright and poet Jennifer O'Grady's plays are produced by theaters and schools across the U.S. and internationally. Her full-length plays include FERTILE GROUND (2022 Semifinalist: O'Neill Conference, Princess Grace/New Dramatists Fellowship and Panndora's Box); CHARLOTTE'S LETTERS (2020 Rising Artist Playwriting Award; 1st Place Henley Rose Award; O'Neill Semifinalist and other honors); PARANORMAL LOVE (MTWorks Newborn Award; NEWvember Finalist; 2019 Panndora's Box Honorable Mention and other honors); ELLERY (2019 Bechdel Group selection); JUGGLING WITH MR. FIELDS (2020 SWTP Finalist) and more. Her work is published in multiple editions of the annual Best Ten-Minute Plays, Best New Ten-Minute Plays and Best Women's Stage Monologues among other anthologies. Her plays have been presented by the Irish Rep, The Barrow Group, 6th Street Playhouse, Attic Salt Theatre, The Lanford Wilson New American Play Festival, NEWvember Festival Dublin, Lakeshore Players Theatre, Heartland Theatre Company, Rover Dramawerks, Short + Sweet, The Playhouse at White Lake, Gi60, American Lives Theatre, The Hive Collaborative, PlayZoomers, River's Edge Theatre Co, New Deal Creative Arts, Lowesll Arts Theatre and many more. She is also the author of two collections of poetry, WHITE (Mid-List Press First Series Award for Poetry) and EXCLUSIONS & LIMITATIONS (Plume Editions/MadHat Press). Her poems are published in numerous places including Poetry, Harper's, The New Republic, The Writer's Almanac, Poetry Daily, Plume, The Kenyon Review and American Poetry: The Next Generation, Born and raised in NYC, she holds an MFA in poetry from Columbia University and a BA from Vassar, where she won awards for her writing. She lives with her family near NYC. (www.jenniferogrady.net)

Plays

  • CHARLOTTE'S LETTERS
    2020 Rising Artist Playwriting Award/ 1st Place Henley Rose Award/ O'Neill Semifinalist and other honors

    (Full length) A fresh, theatrical take on the Brontës, intertwining novelist Charlotte Brontë's two years as an unpublished young woman at a Belgian school--where she became increasingly close to her married tutor and employer, Monsieur Heger--with her friend and biographer Mrs....
    2020 Rising Artist Playwriting Award/ 1st Place Henley Rose Award/ O'Neill Semifinalist and other honors

    (Full length) A fresh, theatrical take on the Brontës, intertwining novelist Charlotte Brontë's two years as an unpublished young woman at a Belgian school--where she became increasingly close to her married tutor and employer, Monsieur Heger--with her friend and biographer Mrs. Gaskell's struggle to salvage Charlotte's posthumous reputation and feminist novels. In Victorian England the books of recently deceased author Charlotte Brontë are now widely banned for being too passionate. Mrs. Gaskell intends to prove that Charlotte was innocent and her reclusive life, blameless. But when an alarming letter arrives from Brussels, Mrs. Gaskell is forced to investigate just how much of Charlotte's novels--including the bestselling but scandalous JANE EYRE--was based on her own life. A play about love, friendship, and the making of art and identity.
  • ELLERY
    2019 Bechdel Group Reading Workshop Selection / Included in THE BEST WOMEN'S STAGE MONOLOGUES 2017

    (Full length) Becca hates her psychic abilities and is being haunted by her dead but still-critical mother and dead grandmother, for reasons none of them understands. When a dead young woman appears and pleads confusingly for help, Becca turns away--but unwittingly gives her best friend the...
    2019 Bechdel Group Reading Workshop Selection / Included in THE BEST WOMEN'S STAGE MONOLOGUES 2017

    (Full length) Becca hates her psychic abilities and is being haunted by her dead but still-critical mother and dead grandmother, for reasons none of them understands. When a dead young woman appears and pleads confusingly for help, Becca turns away--but unwittingly gives her best friend the chance to pursue a dangerous course that could harm Becca and another living woman. (Play 2 in the Ghost Trilogy of standalone plays)
  • FERTILE GROUND
    2022 Semifinalist: O'Neill Playwrights Conference
    2022 Semifinalist: Princess Grace Award in Playwriting/New Dramatists Fellowship
    2022 Semifinalist: Panndora's Box New Works Festival

    (Full length/seeks development) Leigh wants a baby but grapples with unexplained miscarriages. Her younger sister Olivia, a parent and psychologist on the tenure track, is having difficulty...
    2022 Semifinalist: O'Neill Playwrights Conference
    2022 Semifinalist: Princess Grace Award in Playwriting/New Dramatists Fellowship
    2022 Semifinalist: Panndora's Box New Works Festival

    (Full length/seeks development) Leigh wants a baby but grapples with unexplained miscarriages. Her younger sister Olivia, a parent and psychologist on the tenure track, is having difficulty finishing her book about maternal filicide due to one of her subjects, an incarcerated woman whose motivations are disturbingly unclear. Leigh's husband Max wants to be done with fertility treatments, something Leigh staunchly resists. As Olivia and Max begin leaning on each other for support, Leigh begins writing a novel about filicide, and fact and fiction begin to collide and will have devastating consequences for both sisters. A new play exploring unseen and ignored aspects of motherhood along with its darker side.
  • JUGGLING WITH MR. FIELDS
    2020 Finalist, Southwest Theatre Productions New Play Contest

    (Full length) In 1940s Hollywood aging, irreverent, nearly-alcoholic movie star W.C. Fields--shunned by film studios and eager for work--grudgingly hires a young English manservant, while Fields' live-in girlfriend and rising-actor friend Anthony Quinn vie for his attentions. But new servant Rodney brings a link to the past that...
    2020 Finalist, Southwest Theatre Productions New Play Contest

    (Full length) In 1940s Hollywood aging, irreverent, nearly-alcoholic movie star W.C. Fields--shunned by film studios and eager for work--grudgingly hires a young English manservant, while Fields' live-in girlfriend and rising-actor friend Anthony Quinn vie for his attentions. But new servant Rodney brings a link to the past that will have shattering consequences, in this imagined look at the hidden side of an iconic film star and drama about longing and belonging.
  • PARANORMAL LOVE
    MTWorks Newborn Award/NEWvember Finalist/2019 Panndora's Box Honorable Mention and other honors

    (Full length) Kevin and David were a loving couple, but now Kevin is dead and stuck in a boring afterlife with little to do but eat popcorn and watch the living. When David decides to marry a woman, Kevin seizes the chance to wrap up unfinished business--making sure David is happy, and reuniting...
    MTWorks Newborn Award/NEWvember Finalist/2019 Panndora's Box Honorable Mention and other honors

    (Full length) Kevin and David were a loving couple, but now Kevin is dead and stuck in a boring afterlife with little to do but eat popcorn and watch the living. When David decides to marry a woman, Kevin seizes the chance to wrap up unfinished business--making sure David is happy, and reuniting two living friends, once best friends but now mysteriously estranged--which Kevin attempts with the aid of two dead friends, until things begin to go wrong. A play about love, loss, and the power of memory. (Play 1 in the Ghost Trilogy of standalone plays)
  • QUASARS
    Included in THE BEST WOMEN'S STAGE MONOLOGUES and BEST CONTEMPORARY MONOLOGUES FOR WOMEN 18-35

    (Full length) When sculptor Josh's wife becomes seriously ill but won't slow down, Josh takes secretive measures to keep Erin at home. But their nine-year-old daughter witnesses his ploys, bringing unwanted scrutiny from a young Catholic priest. As Erin's illness worsens Josh must...
    Included in THE BEST WOMEN'S STAGE MONOLOGUES and BEST CONTEMPORARY MONOLOGUES FOR WOMEN 18-35

    (Full length) When sculptor Josh's wife becomes seriously ill but won't slow down, Josh takes secretive measures to keep Erin at home. But their nine-year-old daughter witnesses his ploys, bringing unwanted scrutiny from a young Catholic priest. As Erin's illness worsens Josh must learn to let go--and try to grow up-- with help from a troubled priest and a strange young woman with piercings.
  • SLANTED LIGHT
    2022 Bechdel Group Shortlist

    (Full length) Joanna is a poet and single parent working part-time in a funeral home--an odd choice, considering that Joanna can see dead people. When a dead teenage boy follows her home and ensconces himself in her attic, Joanna and her teenage daughter Miranda must learn some hard truths about living and dying. (Play 3 in the Ghost Trilogy of standalone plays)
  • Abundance
    Selected for Dramatic Question Theatre's DQTini Series

    (1 Min) No one--and nothing--likes to be alone. A pandemic play for any two performers.
  • Admiral Grace Hopper Revisits
    Productions include 6th Street Playhouse and Rover Dramawerks

    (One Act/Solo/Monologue) 85-year-old, former U.S. Navy Rear Admiral and computer pioneer Grace Hopper speaks about life, computer compilers, and kicking some ass in this short solo play about perseverance and passion.
  • Bars
    Produced by Primal Theatre UK (2019)

    (Monologue) Sky, a pet parakeet, has a request. Or three.
  • Belle, ex-wife of a Beast
    Selected for The Writers Block Radio Hour (2020)

    (Monologue) A former princess speaks.
  • The Bookstore
    Productions by The Playhouse at White Lake and others

    (10 Min) When a popular YA action novel appears on the shelves, a bored poetry book decides to make a little mischief.
  • Cage
    Produced by Primal Theatre UK (2019)

    (Monologue) Thumper the pet rabbit describes their habit for the audience.
  • Chem Class
    Selected for the Lanford Wilson New American Play Festival 2022
    Publication forthcoming in The Lanford Wilson New American Play Festival 2022: The Short Plays

    (10 Min) On their morning walk to school, Alex asks his friend Sofia to their Junior Prom. But Sofia's reaction isn't what Alex had hoped for--or so he thought. A play about taking risks and being ourselves. (Written for THE WALKING PLAYS)
  • Circumnavigation
    Selected for Stage Left Theater's Fast and Furious (2021)

    (Monologue) Flash, a young goldfish, loves their new home. Really.
  • Closet Cat
    Selected for Gi60 US and published in some scripts literary magazine (2021)

    (Monologue) Sometimes the best place to be is your owner's closet.
  • Cops
    (3 Min) Two adults speak about their different encounters with the police.
  • Dishwasher
    (10 Min) Alan’s dishwasher has been acting up. Carter, a repairman, visits and discovers that even household appliances require some kindness. A play about dysfunctional relationships and repairs.
  • Domestic Service
    Produced by White Mouse Theater

    (10 Min) When Oscar-nominated, African-American actress Louise Beavers is cast as yet another maid in another Hollywood movie but this one has a very shocking twist, she finds herself forced to make a difficult decision.
  • Egypt
    Selected for Mind the Gap Theatre's Housebound Series and published in some scripts literary magazine #5

    (Monologue) The six-month-old fetus of a murdered woman speaks. (CW: domestic violence; murder)
  • Emily's Room
    Selected for Rover Dramawerks' 365 Women a Year Festival

    (15 Min) 54-year-old recluse Emily Dickinson and her 44-year-old Irish maid reach an unspoken understanding that, unknown to them, will alter the course of American literature.
  • Expectations
    Selected for Short+Sweet Sydney 2021 and other productions / Shortlist: Short+Sweet Dubai 2022 and 2021

    (Short) Novelist Charles Dickens and his wife Kate Dickens speak about the legal separation Dickens initiated after twenty-two years of marriage and nine children—narratives that differ substantially from each other. A play about power and women's lives.
  • First Day in Trade
    Published in THE BEST TEN-MINUTE PLAYS 2017 (Smith and Kraus)

    (10 Min) At a New York publishing house, an impoverished assistant learns that one of the world's wealthiest women--editor Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis--might want to bum cigarettes from her. (Inspired by a true incident)
  • Fridge
    Published in THE BEST TEN-MINUTE PLAYS 2021 (Smith and Kraus)

    (10 Min) A woman and her fridge. A play about failure and acceptance.
  • The Gorilla
    Produced by Primal Theater UK

    (10 Min) When a gorilla at the zoo takes a surprising interest in Myra, she finds her life transforming--but for better or worse?
  • The Great Gaffe
    Published in THE BEST TEN-MINUTE PLAYS 2016 (Smith and Kraus)

    (10 Min) Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Edith Wharton gives a tea party for F. Scott Fitzgerald, struggling young author of THE GREAT GATSBY, with disastrous results.
  • Greed (or the alligator play)
    (10 Min) Corey questions reality when an alligator appears at the picnic and eats up all the guac. A play about environmental encroachment, with a talking alligator.
  • I'm Not Malala
    Selected for The PlayGround Experiment's Faces of America Festival #1

    (Monologue) Julia isn't Malala. But maybe Malala can help?
  • In Memory of Maria Mercader
    Performed and published in The COVID Monologues by Breath of Fire Latina Theater Ensemble

    (Monologue) CBS news producer and my high-school friend Maria Mercader died during the COVID pandemic in New York. This was written to celebrate Maria and her life.
  • Invasion
    (1 Min) Where are all the people? Who cares? There's grass! (A pandemic play with goats.)
  • Invisible (one-minute version)
    Selected for Gi60 US (2022)

    (Monologue) Scout the dog explains the new invisible fence to a potential playmate.
  • Invisible (3-minute version)
    Selected for "Natural Distancing" at Civic Theater of Greater Lafayette (2020)

    (Monologue) Scout the dog explains the new invisible fence to a potential playmate.
  • January
    (Monologue) Bella, age twelve, ponders her mom’s reaction to Bella's interest in hanging out with the new girl at school, who isn’t like everyone else.
  • Kitty
    (6 min) Things with Kitty don't work out quite the way Tyler expected. (Or: a stray cat seeks vengeance)
  • Like Knives
    Written by invitation for Brave New World Rep's "Over and Above" and performed by Laura San Giacomo

    (Monologue) A middle-aged bar owner has some words for her ageist male customer--after she locks the door.
  • Lion Cut
    (Monologue) Snowball the cat struggles with new ideas about human beings.
  • Listening
    Audience-choice winner in Weathervane Playhouse's 2019 8x10 Theatrefest (and other productions)

    (10 Min--A Hailey Play, #1) Stuck for the weekend at her preoccupied, divorced dad's house (and never mind having to deal with Dad's new girlfriend, Sandra), sixteen-year-old Hailey learns that listening to old-people music can actually be life-altering.
  • Lucy Tries Again
    Selected for Crafton Hills College New Works Festival (2021)

    (10 Min) 16-year-old Lucy Ball has just been kicked out of her NYC drama school for being too shy and having insufficient talent. Back home with her mom, Lucy tries to figure out what if anything to do next. (Based on the life of iconic TV star Lucille Ball)
  • Matthew Weaver Finds Me
    (5 Min) Frustrated by the play she's writing for Matthew Weaver's birthday, Jennifer brainstorms with Matthew. A unicorn might appear. (Included in 40ish Short Plays About Matthew Weaver compiled by playwright Matthew Weaver)
  • Mending
    (10 Min) At Monticello the day after Thomas Jefferson's death, an enslaved woman, Sally Hemings, and her 21-year-old enslaved son by Jefferson wait to hear their fate.
  • Menopause Play
    (10 Min) Fed up with having her menopausal symptoms unacknowledged and ignored, a playwright decides to write about it. This is her play, and you'd better listen.
  • Microwave
    Produced by PlayZoomers (2021)

    (10 Min) A play about give and take with a common household appliance.
  • A Midsummer Night's Script (10-Minute Version)
    Selected for Funny Shorts Live! (2021)

    (10 Min) London, 1595 -- The Lord Chamberlain's Men are having trouble with their latest play, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM.
  • A Midsummer Night's Script (5-minute version)
    (5 Min version written in 2020 for Caravan Productions and published in A YEAR WITH THE CARAVAN]
  • Most Wonderful
    Published in THE BEST NEW TEN-MINUTE PLAYS 2021 (Applause)

    (10 Min) Two unemployed roommates learn the meaning of Christmas with help from a can of beans and some dental floss.
  • The Mysterious Affair at the Christies
    Produced by Saw It Here First Productions (London), Rover Dramawerks and other theaters.

    (10 Min) An imagined glimpse into Agatha Christie's troubled first marriage and the roots of her long career as a novelist.
  • Nest
    (Monologue) A woman struggles to remember the son now lost to her.
  • New Kitten
    Produced by Gi60 US (2019)

    (1 Min) Max the cat is seriously pissed off--a new kitten has moved in and expects Max to share everything including the litter box. A tiny play about jealousy and transformation.
  • Only Human
    Selected for St. Paul's Arts Council's Short New Play Festival, The Factory Theater at Greenville U's New Play Festival and by other theaters around the country

    (Monologue) A Catholic priest remembers a tragedy in his past. (Written for CodeRedPlaywrights)
  • On 9th Street
    Produced by the The New Deal Creative Arts Center (2022)

    (!0 Min) NYC, 1951: Four Abstract Expressionist women artists await the opening of their group exhibition in a condemned building in lower Manhattan. A play about the women of the 9th Street Show.
  • Out
    Produced by Gi60 UK (2019)

    (1 Min) A tiny play about the frustrations of dog-ownership.
  • Persephone
    Published in THE BEST NEW TEN-MINUTE PLAYS 2019 (Applause)

    (10 Min) A modern riff on the myth of Persephone, forced to leave her family behind forever. This Persephone returns to give her small child an unusual gift--a new mom.
  • A Piece of the Continent
    (10 Min) #45 as an old man contending with history textbooks and the realities of climate change--when it impacts him.
  • Playgroup
    Selected for The Mother-logues by Red Herring Productions and Empower Her Voice U.K. (2020)

    (Monologue) At her weekly playgroup for moms and babies, Lauren makes an unexpected confession.
  • Pre-War
    Winner of Stage It's Ten-Minute Play contest and published in STAGE IT 3 (2019)

    (10 Min) Traumatized by a recent loss, Elena finds it hard to leave her NYC apartment--until she meets Clara, her older refugee neighbor, and the women discover they have more in common than they thought.
  • Seek
    (5 Min) A father's love spans twenty years in five minutes; a daughter's love survives an unthinkable tragedy.
    (Written for CodeRedPlaywrights)
  • Shakespeare's Dilemma
    Selected for Caravan Productions (2021)

    (10 Min) London, 1593 - The Lord Chamberlain's Men are having trouble with their plans for JULIUS CAESAR--and with their new and unwanted playwright. (Standalone "prequel" to my ten-minute play A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S SCRIPT.)
  • Shelved
    Produced by NextStage Theater (2021)

    (10 Min) Two bickering French books stuck in the basement stacks of a library (and subjected to the inexplicable glares of the librarian) find themselves uniting when forced to foil a robbery plan.
  • A Split Second
    Selected for Plays for Us by The Actors Center (2020)

    (10 Min) In two different places two unrelated women--a parent with a missing child, and a traumatized driver--speak about recent events that, unknown to them, are tragically connected.
  • Street
    (Monologue) A street outside Cup Foods, Minneapolis, speaks to us.
  • Sugar
    Selected for Lakeshore Players Theatre's 2022 10-Minute Play Festival and for Rockford New Words 2022

    (10 Min) Lilia is startled when her new neighbor Jaden knocks on her door and asks to borrow sugar. But Jaden has an urgent ulterior motive that has nothing to do with sugar, and everything to do with Lilia.
  • Theoni V. Aldredge, Costume Designer, Speaks
    Produced by Tutti Bravi Productions (2021)

    (Monologue) Award-winning Greek-American costume designer Theoni V. Aldredge speaks about what women and immigrants can do.
  • Tomorrow or Next Year
    Published in Feels Blind Literary (2019)

    (5 Min) Mackenzie wants to help; Caroline wants to forget. A play about growing up in today's United States.
  • Waiting
    Selected for Weathervane Playhouse's 2022 8x10 Theatrefest

    (10 Min--A Hailey Play, #2) It's a new year and teenager Hailey's dad is getting married to his girlfriend Sandra--except that Sandra doesn't actually know it yet. When Dad tries to surprise Sandra with an engagement ring but things go terribly wrong, Hailey comes to the rescue and proves once again that adults aren't always observant.
  • Walkies
    Selected for "Snowed Under" by Caravan Productions (2021)

    (10 Min) An unexpected tragedy forges an unexpected connection. (CW: Pet loss)
  • We Were Happy
    Premiering at American Lives Theatre in October 2022

    (10-15 Min) Two Italian-American sisters remember growing up on New York's lower Eastside and find that their memories differ. But they were happy there. Maybe.
  • What I Love
    (5 minutes) A 10-year-old's love of baseball, and the man he will never become due to a life cut short by gun violence.
    (Written for CodeRedPlaywrights)