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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.


BIO


Jennifer Barclay is a Chicago-bred actor-turned-playwright, now living in DC. Her play Ripe Frenzy won the National New Play Network's 2016 Smith Prize for Political Theatre and the 2018 Dramatists Guild Fund Writers Alliance Grant. Ripe Frenzy was developed at Woolly Mammoth, the 2017 Ojai Playwrights Conference, NNPN/PlayPenn, and had a 2018 NNPN Rolling World Premiere at New Rep in Boston, Synchronicity Theatre in Atlanta and Greenway Court in LA. Her other plays include This Profound Abyss, Housebound, Yellowstone: the ballad of the red-state white man, 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. Jennifer's plays have been produced and developed by Steppenwolf, La Jolla Playhouse, The Old Globe, RedCat, The Kennedy Center, Center Stage, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Co, Andy's Summer Playhouse, American Blues Theatre, The International Theatre of Vienna and The Edinburgh Fringe, among others. Awards include: Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award, Kennedy Center National Science Playwriting Award, Pinter Review Gold Medal, BETC New Generations Award. Jennifer has been a Fellow at the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Hawthornden International Writers Retreat in Scotland and will join The New Harmony Project in 2019. She has been a playwright in residence at South Coast Rep, Center Stage and Arena Stage. Jennifer has a degree in Theatre from Northwestern University and an MFA in Playwriting at UC San Diego, where she studied with Naomi Iizuka. She is proud to be an NNPN Affiliated Artist, a member of the Dramatists Guild, and an Assistant Professor of Playwriting and Performance at the University of Maryland.

 

Read Jennifer's Plays
 
on the New Play Exchange

CURRENT
NEWS

 

  • Traveling to Costa Rica in March 2020 for research, thanks to a grant from the International Program for Creative Collaboration and Research.
  • Ripe Frenzy production at Andy's Summer Playhouse in NH, directed by Jared Mezzocchi, July 2019.
  • Traveling to Glacier National Park in July 2019 to research the third play in the National Parks Trilogy, thanks to a Creative and Performing Arts Award.
  • Writer in Residence at The New Harmony Project in Indiana, May 2019.
  • This Profound Abyss workshop, directed by Johanna Gruenhut, May 2019.
  • Housebound workshop at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Co, directed by Shana Cooper, April 2019.
  • Traveled to London and Dublin for research in January 2019, thanks to a grant from the International Program for Creative Collaboration and Research.

Ripe Frenzy

RIPE FRENZY

  • Ripe Frenzy submerges us in the before, during and after of a mass shooting in a small-town high school theatre, during opening night of its 40th production of Our Town. 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. Ripe Frenzy won the National New Play Network's 2016 Smith Prize for Political Theatre and the 2018 Dramatists Guild Fund Writers Alliance Grant. The play was developed at Woolly Mammoth, the 2017 Ojai Playwrights Conference, NNPN/PlayPenn, Ripe Frenzy won the National New Play Network's 2016 Smith Prize for Political Theatre and the 2018 Dramatists Guild Fund Writers Alliance Grant. Ripe Frenzy was developed at Woolly Mammoth, the 2017 Ojai Playwrights Conference, NNPN/PlayPenn, and had a 2018 NNPN Rolling World Premiere at New Rep in Boston, Synchronicity Theatre in Atlanta and Greenway Court in LA. Upcoming production at Andy's Summer Playhouse in NH, July 2019.
  • You can read Ripe Frenzy here.
  • Articles about Ripe Frenzy in:

Yellowstone

YELLOWSTONE

  • 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, entitlement and a love of the land that challenges us to open up a true dialogue across the national liberal-conservative divide. Yellowstone is part of Barclay's National Parks trilogy.
  • You can read Yellowstone here.
ObscuraOBSCURA
  • 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.
  • You can read Obscura here.

FREEDOM, NY

  • 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.
  • You can read Freedom, NY here.


 

EAT IT TOO

  • 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.
  • You can read Eat it Too here.

 

HOUSEBOUND

  • A diplomat and his wife take in a nanny from Cameroon to help raise their children. But what happens when she isn't allowed to leave? In a darkly absurd look at human trafficking and domestic servitude, Housebound examines two mothers' dependency on one another, fireflies, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and what freedom truly means in the United States of America.
  • (4-5 F, 2 M)
  • Housebound has been developed through a unique and extended collaboration with director Shana Cooper. First, Shana and I interviewed human trafficking survivors in Washington, DC over the course of several months. Then (before I had written a word of the play) we held a week-long workshop with five actors, a dramaturg and three designers. Using Shana's Essence Work approach, we explored non-verbal creative interpretations of our research, and the designers papered our walls with visual inspiration. Then, I went away on a retreat to write the first draft. In both November 2017 and April 2019, we collaborated with Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company for two additional (more traditional) workshops.

 

THIS PROFOUND ABYSS

  • This Profound Abyss is a bucolic, gender-bending love comedy in conversation with A Midsummer Night's Dream. Puck, a drag performing rock climber, is our tour guide—leading us into the wonders (and terrors) of Yosemite National Park with song, Foley sound effects, and a few bad Yelp reviews. The wealthy elite have gathered for a wedding at Yosemite's luxurious Ahwahnee Hotel. The bride, groom, maid of honor and non-binary best person are safe from the vagaries of nature behind their floor-to-ceiling windows-- but they are embroiled in a tangle of forbidden, inconvenient love. Outside, in Camp 4, the cis-male dominance of the park's rock climbing community is being ruptured by the contemporary fairy named Puck and a female rock climber named Jax who recently triumphed with a major free solo first ascent. Also in Yosemite's Valley, a trio of college kids known as The Curry Crew spend their summer working crappy jobs in the park, and spend their free time devising a Theatre of the Oppressed play to perform at the wedding reception. When a tourist dies and a search for the missing body is launched, the three groups of characters bust out into the back country in a quick domino-effect lovelorn succession that leads them up Yosemite's granite peaks. As everyone collides amidst the glories and dangers of Yosemite's back country, the love allegiances go through seismic shifts and death gets uncomfortably close and personal.
  • (5W, 5M, 2 non-binary)
  • This Profound Abyss is part of Barclay's National Parks Trilogy.

THE
HUMAN
CAPACITY

  • 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.
  • Drama. 3M, 2W. 90 minutes.
  • You can read The Human Capacity here.


Jennifer has been a Fellow at the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Hawthornden International Writers Retreat in Scotland and will join The New Harmony Project in 2019. At Hawthornden Castle, she met the love of her life, writer Andrew Newsham.

 


CLEARING HEDGES
The award winning one-woman show about
Babe Didrikson Zaharias
Updated 5/11/19 Copyright 2002-2019 Barclay Studios. All rights reserved