Discipline: Theatre – playwriting

Jennifer Barclay

Discipline: Theatre – playwriting
Region: Silver Spring, MD
MacDowell Fellowships: 2016, 2023

Jennifer Barclay is a Chicago actor-turned-playwright, now living in D.C. Her two primary missions as a playwright are to increase the canon of juicy, stereotype-busting roles for women, and to write intimate socio-political stories that inspire curiosity and empathy. She is an NNPN Affiliated Artist, a member of the Dramatists Guild, and an associate professor at the University of Maryland.

Barclay has had Fellowships and residencies at MacDowell, VCCA, Hawthornden International Writers Retreat, Ojai Playwrights Conference, New Harmony, South Coast Rep, Center Stage, and Arena Stage. Her plays have been produced and developed by Steppenwolf, Woolly Mammoth, La Jolla Playhouse, The Old Globe, RedCat, The Kennedy Center, Center Stage, PlayPenn, Arizona Theatre Company, Signature Theatre, The International Theatre of Vienna, and The Edinburgh Fringe, among others.

Her other plays include Hot Little Slice, Housebound, Obscura, Freedom NY, The Human Capacity, Danny, Red Helen, The Attic Dwellers, Eat It Too, and she is in the midst of developing a trilogy set in the national parks including Yellowstone, This Profound Abyss (set in Yosemite), and an untitled play set in Glacier National Park. She is also developing Murdered Men Do Drip and Bleed, a three-theatre international commission with Mosaic (D.C.), Solas Nua (D.C.) and Fishamble (Dublin), co-written with Irish-Palestinian playwright Hannah Khalil.

Barclay developed two new plays while in residence at MacDowell in 2016. One of the plays, Sierra Nevada, examines the potential and fragility of the human body in juxtaposition with the potential and fragility of the wilderness. The other play, Ripe Frenzy, explores the impact that media is having on our national epidemic of mass shootings. Ripe Frenzy, a Smith Prize for Political Theatre commission from the National New Play Network (NNPN), was subsequently developed at Woolly Mammoth, the 2017 Ojai Playwrights Conference, and NNPN/PlayPenn. It won the 2018 Dramatists Guild Fund Writers Alliance Grant and had a 2018 NNPN Rolling World Premiere at New Rep in Boston, Synchronicity Theatre in Atlanta, and Greenway Court in Los Angeles.

During her 2023 Fellowship, she wrote a new play, Possession, and a new TV pilot, “Tenure.” Possession is an obsessive revenge dark comedy which juxtaposes women's pro basketball with gestational surrogacy. "Tenure" is a half-hour dark comedy for television set in the world of academia.



Jennifer Barclay worked in the Sorosis studio.

Sorosis Studio was funded by the New York Carol Club of Sorosis. The small, masonry studio was designed by F. Winsor, Jr., the architect who also designed Savidge Library (1926) and Mixter Studio (1927). At the time of construction, the large porch on the southeast façade offered a spectacular mountain view that has since been obscured…

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