Contact Jennifer Barclay
Jennifer Barclay
Artist's Statement

My goal is to write stories which are full of raw, muscular humanity; stories which inspire and elevate, with juicy, scenery-chewing characters actors will die to gobble up. I make it a priority to create stereotype-busting roles for women; ones which I feel are infinitely more complicated than the standard leading lady or ingénue. I’m fascinated by the extremes of humanity, the dark & twisted, the psychologically unexpected, and the quirky underbelly. I write about both the intimacy of family and the magnitude of the world at large. And I believe that a play or a film at its best should be a challenge to the mind, a revelation for the heart, and a raw, joyful collision between human beings.


Jennifer Barclay is a Chicago-bred actor-turned-playwright. Recently, she relocated to D.C. to join the faculty at the University of Maryland.

Jennifer is currently a member of Center Stage's inaugural Playwrights Collective, and was previously the 2009-10 Shank Playwright in Residence at South Coast Repertory. She has been awarded the Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award (for Prank), Mary Margaret Linn Theatre Award (Northwestern University), the Pinter Review Gold Medal Prize for Drama (for The Human Capacity), Best Female Dramatic Solo at the San Francisco Fringe (for Clearing Hedges), second Prize for the Kennedy Center's 2008 National Science Playwriting Award (for The Attic Dwellers). She has been a finalist for: Actor's Theatre of Louisville's Heideman Award (three times, for Constriction, Snapshot, and Tight Curls Today), a residency at Yaddo, and the Princess Grace Award (for The Human Capacity). She's been a semi-finalist for: the O'Neill National Playwrights Conference (for both Obscura and Eat It Too), Final Draft's Big Break Screenwriting competition (for The Fontaines), The Oscars' Nicholl Screenwriting Competition (for The Right Track), and the Princess Grace Award (for Obscura).

Jennifer has been granted playwriting residencies at The Hawthornden International Writers Retreat in Scotland and The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She has been commissioned by La Jolla Playhouse, Moving Arts and the University of Maryland's Department of Physics, among others.

Jennifer's plays have been produced by La Jolla Playhouse, Teatro Vista (Chicago), Remy Bumppo (at Victory Gardens in Chicago), The International Theatre of Vienna (Austria), Collaboraction (Chicago), Red Tape (Chicago), Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co. (Chicago), Downstairs Cabaret (Rochester, NY), The Source Festival (DC), Looking Glass (NYC), Son of Semele (LA), Redcat (LA), Moving Arts (LA), the University of Maryland, the San Francisco Fringe Festival, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and UC San Diego's Baldwin Festival of New Plays. Her work has been developed by Steppenwolf (First Look Festival), The Old Globe, South Coast Repertory, the Kennedy Center, South Coast Rep, Chicago Dramatists, Northlight Theatre (Chicago), American Theatre Co. (Chicago), Piven Theatre (Chicago), Stage Left (Chicago), Breadline Theatre (Chicago), Dog & Pony Theatre Co (Chicago), Moveable Piece (LA), Moxie Theatre (San Diego), HotCity Theatre (St. Louis), Beyond the Wall Productions (NYC), NY Experimental Theatre (NYC), Looking Glass (NYC), Naked Angels (NYC), and UC San Diego.

Jennifer has written the screenplay adaptations for The Human Capacity and Freedom, NY, the original screenplays The Fontaines, Prank and The Right Track, and the TV pilot Flesh & Blood.

As an actress, Jennifer has performed in Chicago with Steppenwolf , Live Bait, Court Theatre, Mary-Arrchie and Collaboraction, among others. She has performed regionally with Peninsula Players (WI) and Acadia Repertory (ME), and abroad with the International Theatre of Vienna and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Jennifer is a graduate of Northwestern University (BS Theatre) and UC San Diego (MFA Playwriting). At Northwestern, she studied playwriting with John Logan (Oscar-nominated for The Aviator and The Gladiator, Tony-winner for Red), acting with David Downs and Kim Rubinstein, and performance studies with Tony-winners Frank Galati and Mary Zimmerman (who mentored the development of Jennifer's solo play, Clearing Hedges). At UC San Diego, Jennifer studied with with Naomi Iizuka, Les Waters, Karl Gajdusek and Kyle Donnelly.

Jennifer is now a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Playwriting and Performance at the University of Maryland.




June 2016: Jennifer was awarded the 2016 Smith Prize by the National New Play Network. The prize is a commission to write, develop and produce a new political play with NNPN theatres. The play, Ripe Frenzy, will examine the way American social and journalistic media is perpetuating our mass shootings, as told through the eyes of the shooter's mother. Jennifer is currently writing and workshopping the play with her collaborators: projections designer Jared Mezzocchi and director Margot Bordelon.

June - July 2016: Jennifer will be in residence as a Fellow at the MacDowell Colony.

NYC, August 11 2016: Jennifer's short play, Tight Curls Today, will be produced in the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Festival, directed by Jessi D. Hill.

2015-16 season: Jennifer was invited to be part of Center Stage's inaugural Playwrights Collective.

2016 Finalist for the O'Neill National Playwrights Conference with her new play, Danny. Along with director Logan Vaughn, Jennifer is developing a new play, Danny, set in Chicago's infamous Cabrini-Green housing project.

March 2016: first public reading of Danny, at Center Stage, directed by Logan Vaughn.

Recently in DC and MD: Forum Theatre Artistic Director Michael Dove directed the premiere of The Human Capacity at The University of Maryland in May 2015. Nationally-renowned new-plays director Kyle Donnelly directed a workshop of The Attic Dwellers in January 2015. And Jennifer's super-short plays, Givers & Getters, Waiting and Split-Pea were produced at Round House Theatre in DC's One-Minute Play Festivals in 2014 and 2015.

Recently in NYC: Logan Vaughn directed a workshop of Danny in Harlem. And 5-time Tony Award winning designer and director Brian MacDevitt directed a reading of Obscura at Naked Angels.

In 2013, Jennifer joined the faculty at the University of Maryland in the DC area as an Assistant Professor of Playwriting and Performance.



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.
3 M, 2 F, 2 off-stage. 80 minutes.


In the year following a brutal school shooting, Justice Mayflower keeps her 12-year-old granddaughter, Portia, safe at home in their garden. But then enters their new neighbor: a joyful young Mexican, carrying a coffin. Gabriel encourages Portia to break free from Mayflower’s tyranny of fear and celebrate Dia de los Muertos.

Productions: Teatro Vista/ Remy Bumppo, UC San Diego Baldwin New Plays Festival
Readings/ Workshops: The O'Neill Center, Stage Left

Drama. 1M, 1W, 1 girl. 70 minutes.

MORE about Freedom, NY



Brett, a thriving Hollywood actress, is finally ready to return to her hometown… And she is dead set on the most horrific kind of her revenge. Eat It Too is a dark and twisted comedy that explores the fine line between the American dream and the American nightmare.

Dark comedy. 4 W, 1 M. 120 minutes.

MORE about Eat It Too


In Plunder, a hostage, an amnesiac, and a zealous psychologist fight for the right to own the identity they need and the memories they want. Robey has made a discovery: you can rewrite your past. Simply repeat more favorable memories over and over until, in your reprogrammed mind, they become fact. His goal? Marriage fights: eliminated. Brain-damaged patient: reinvented. But the patient has methods of her own and kidnaps Robey’s wife so she can steal her memories. In the midst of this captivity, the two women develop an exquisite friendship. Plunder rips into the dirty baggage that follows each of us into relationships, and weighs the pure beauty of a white lie against the stark reality of the truth.

Plunder has been read and workshopped at: Piven Theatre, American Theatre Company, and UC San Diego.

Dark Comedy. 1M, 2W. 90 minutes
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Set in East Berlin before and after the fall of the Wall, the play 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 Human Capacity is a searing look into a society and a family in turmoil, and an exploration of the human capacity for cruelty, perseverance, and forgiveness.

The Human Capacity has been read and workshopped at: Steppenwolf Theatre Company (First Look Festival of New Works), Stage Left Theatre, Piven Theatre, A Red Orchid, Northlight Theatre, and Breadline Theatre Group.

Drama. 3M, 2W. 90 minutes.
MORE about The Human Capacity

Jennifer has been awarded playwriting residencies at The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico, and Hawthornden International Writers Retreat in Scotland.
As a Hawthornden fellow, she spent the summer of '05 living in the castle you see pictured to your right. That is where she met the love of her life Andrew Newsham.

The award winning one-woman show about
Babe Didrikson Zaharias
Updated 6/29/16 Copyright 2002-2016 Barclay Studios. All rights reserved