Skip to main content
Skip to main content

Jennifer Barclay

Jennifer Barclay Profile Photo

Associate Professor, Theatre Performance
Director Of Undergraduate Studies, School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies

(301) 405-6683

2825 The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
Get Directions

Research Expertise


Jennifer Barclay is an actor-turned-playwright, formerly based in Chicago and California, and so very happy to be here on faculty at UMD’s department of TDPS.  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, HouseboundYellowstone: the ballad of the red-state white manObscuraFreedom, NYThe Human CapacityDanny, Red HelenThe Attic DwellersEat 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 RepCenter 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 and a member of the Dramatists Guild.

As an actor, Professor Barclay has performed in Austria, Scotland, Chicago, California and New York, and has toured her one-woman show, Clearing Hedges, nationally and internationally.

Current and upcoming projects:

Currently, Professor Barclay is developing three new plays: HouseboundYellowstone: the last gasp of the angry white man, and This Profound AbyssHousebound is a play about domestic servitude human trafficking in the DC international community that has been developed through a highly-collaborative interview-based process that was funded by UMD TDPS, ARHU and Division of Research, through a Tier 1 Faculty Research Grant. Along with director Shana Cooper, Barclay workshopped Housebound at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Co in DC in November 2017 and April 2019. Yellowstone is an all-female 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. This Profound Abyss is a bucolic, gender-bending love comedy in conversation with A Midsummer Night’s Dream, set in Yosemite National Park. Yellowstone and This Profound Abyss are part of Professor Barclay's National Parks trilogy.

--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.



B.S. in Theatre, Northwestern University, 1999; M.F.A. in Playwriting, University of California at San Diego, 2006.

Areas of Specialization/Interest:

Playwriting, Acting, Viewpoints, Contemporary Drama, Solo Performance, Site-Specific Theatre

Professional Affiliations:

Member of the Dramatists Guild. Former: Arena Stage Playwrights' Arena, Shank Playwright in Residence at South Coast Repertory, Center Stage's Playwrights Collective.

Honors and Awards:

Dramatists Guild Foundation Writers Alliance Grant, National New Play Network's Smith Prize for Political Theatre, MacDowell Colony Fellow, Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award, Kennedy Center National Science Playwriting Award, Boston Theatre IRNE Award for Best Play at a small theatre, Pinter Review Gold Medal, Final Draft Big Break, Northwestern University’s Mary Margaret Linn Award, Princess Grace finalist, three-time Heideman Award finalist, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts residency, Hawthornden Castle International Writer’s Retreat residency, New Harmony Project writer in residence.