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The Brooklyn-born Shear first came to prominence with her 1994 self-penned solo performance piece Blown Sideways Through Life, which enjoyed a run of 221 performances at the off-Broadway Cherry Lane Theatre and won her an Obie Award and a Drama Desk Award nomination. Shear's employment experiences as a member of the American work force - sixty-four jobs in all, including pastry chef, nude model, waitress, whorehouse receptionist, proofreader, and Italian translator - provided her with a wealth of material for her piece. She adapted it for a 1995 presentation on the PBS series American Playhouse.
Shear hit her stride in 2000 with Dirty Blonde, her exploration of the life and career of Mae West, which earned her Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations for both Best Play and Best Actress and won her the Theatre World Award.
Shear's acting credits include the films It Could Happen to You (1994) and Living Out Loud (1998) and a memorable guest appearance as the "fake Monica" on the NBC sitcom Friends. She has also written for such publications as The New York Times, Vogue, Glamour and Travel & Leisure, among others.
Restoration, a new play written by her, premiered in June 2009 at La Jolla Playhouse in La Jolla, California, commissioned by La Jolla Playhouse Artistic Director Christopher Ashley, after an idea by Shear. In Restoration, Shear plays "Giulia, a down-on-her-luck art restorer from Brooklyn who receives what could possibly be a career-reviving job of 'refreshing' Michelangelo’s David in time for its quincentennial celebration in Florence."
Christopher Ashley, who staged the world premiere of the new work at La Jolla Playhouse, directed the work for its New York debut. Previews began April 30, 2010 and opening night was May 19, 2010 at the New York Theatre Workshop in Manhattan.
- Lortel Archives listing
- Internet Broadway Database listing
- Salon.com interview
- BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour interview