Jennie Webb is an independent Los Angeles writer, dramaturg and playwright. Her plays, including Currency, Yard Sale Signs, Remodeling Plans, Unclaimed Assets, GreenHouse, On Tuesday, Brand New Script, It’s Not About Race, Buying a House, About What Matters, Reach, Smiling Cat Candy Heart and Carry On have been produced locally (by Inkwell Theater, Santa Monica Rep, Rogue Machine Theatre, The Road Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse’s WOW Festival, EST/LA and others), at colleges and universities across the country and in India, Iceland, Canada and the UK. She has been a part of The Playwright Center’s PlayLabs, Great Plains Theatre Conferences, Little Black Dress INK Female Playwrights ONSTAGE Festivals, Protest Plays Project, the Virginia Avenue Project, 365 Women a Year, National Winter Playwrights Retreat, The Road Theatre Company Summer Playwrights Festivals and Under Construction 1, PlayGround-LA, Moving Arts MADlab, Blank Theatre’s Living Room Series and Rogue Artists Ensemble’s inaugural Rogue Lab with plays including The Complete Story of the War, Rebecca on the Bus, Seperate Loads, Crazy Bitch, Jilt, Into the Gobpile, Not Cake, adaptation.resilience and Footprint; her work is published by Heinemann Press, Smith & Kraus, Next Stage Press and ICWP.
Her plays have been named finalist (O’Neill Playwrights Conference, Gulfshore Playhouse New Play and City Theatre National Short Play Awards) and semi-finalists (PlayPenn, Athena Project, Trustus Theatre Festival, O’Neill) in numerous competitions and she is a two-time winner of a Max K. Lerner Playwriting Fellowship. She is currently a member of the Playwrights Union, EST/LA, Honor Roll!, Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas and the Dramatists Guild. She is the recipient of a Women in Theatre Red Carpet Award and is co-founder and editor-at-large of the Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative (LAFPI).
A graduate of USC’s School of Drama, Jennie started her career as a stand-up comedienne and improv artist. She wrote material as half of the female stand-up duo “Frisk and Webb,” and later performed sketch and improvisational comedy in night-clubs and theaters as the only woman in the politically-inspired trio “Rabble Without a Cause.” She later worked with a group of women writer/performers to develop original material as part of a deal with Paramount Studios.
In 1987 Jennie co-founded The Rough Theater, a non-profit theater company which actively produced new works through the mid-nineties. She updated and adapted the company’s first production, LA Book of the Dead, and co-wrote its successful follow-up, Killing Miss America. Killing Miss America has subsequently been produced a number of times at theaters in and around Los Angeles. For the LA Open Festival in 1990, the company joined other Los Angeles artists to form the performance collective “Urbanites Evolve!,” workshopping a street-theater one-act version of her play GreenHouse at an abandoned mortar shell bunker in San Pedro, estate ruins in Hollywood, and late-night off-Hollywood Boulevard. Subsequent readings of GreenHouse were sponsored by Theatricum Botanicum and A.S.K. Theater Projects. She had a 30+ years connection to Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum (where she created and ran the company’s new play development program, Botanicum Seedlings).
In 2000 Jennie renewed her focus on her playwriting. From 2000-2002 her plays were chosen as winners in the Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights (ALAP) new play competitions, and in 2001 her her play Unclaimed Assets premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and The Complete Story of the War was selected by The Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis for development in their PlayLabs. Shortly thereafter Jennie received a commission from Theatricum Botanicum and wrote the one-act Tilting, which was developed through readings and workshops from 2002-2003. In 2003 she was commissioned to write short radio plays broadcast on KPFK-FM. Her work has since been produced, published and supported by theaters and organizations around the globe.
For a number of years Jennie also reviewed theater—most notably for Backstage and on air for KCRW-FM, Southern California’s premier NPR affiliate. She is the author of articles, essays and criticism appearing in the Los Angeles Times, United Parenting Publications, TheaterMania.com and other publications, and served as the LA correspondent for a NY-based stage trade, TheatreScope. She was a guest columnist for an alternative Southern California weekly, and had popular columns in print publications entitled “The Jennie Webb Site” and “Girlfriend’s Guide to the Universe.”
Since co-founding the LA Female Playwrights Initiative (LAFPI) in 2010, she has been an active voice in the gender parity movement.
Jennie often appears as a guest on public radio programs to discuss local arts events and issues, and serves as a guest lecturer at the university level. She has taught Shakespeare text analysis courses, playwriting classes for children & teens and improvisational comedy with The Harvey Lembeck Professional Comedy Workshop. She currently works as a professional dramaturg and runs workshops for playwrights.
Asked to describe her own works a playwright, Jennie uses the term “domestic absurdism.” She writes complex characters for strong women actors and believes in tackling difficult subject matter through darkly comic choices. She lives in Northeast Los Angeles with her housecats Molly and Mick.
Read Jennie Webb’s Indie Theater Now profile by Henry Murray
Check out the interview with Jennie Webb for The Blog @ Boston Court by Sara Israel, From the Desk of…