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She attended The Potomac School in McLean, Virginia for elementary school (through 9th grade). She subsequently attended Sidwell Friends School, in Washington, DC, graduating in 1976. She graduated from Yale University in 1980, summa cum laude.
Her plays include Septimus and Clarissa, Ajax in Iraq, Days and Nights Within, A Narrow Bed, Infinity's House, Iphigenia and Other Daughters, Tongue of a Bird, The Trojan Women, Helen, The Persians, Oedipus, and The Oresteia. Producers include: Actors' Theater of Louisville, The Actors’ Gang L.A., Classic Stage Co., N.Y., The Intiman Theater, Seattle, Almeida Theater, London, The Mark Taper Forum, L.A., the Public Theater in NYC, The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The National Actors’ Theater, N.Y., The Guthrie Theater in Minnesota, and the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C., among many other venues.
McLaughlin is also an actress, having worked on and Off Broadway as well as extensively in regional theater. She is most well known for having originated the part of the Angel in Tony Kushner's Angels in America, appearing in every U.S. production from its earliest workshops through its Broadway run. Other favorite roles include The Homebody in Homebody/Kabul (Intiman Theater, Seattle), Pirate Jenny in Threepenny Opera (Trinity Rep. Elliot Norton Award), Mrs. Alving in Ghosts (Berkeley Rep.) Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream at the McCarter and the Paper Mill Playhouse, A Delicate Balance, (Arena Stage, Yale Rep.) Good People (George St. Playhouse, Seattle Rep.), Dear Elizabeth (People's Light and Theater) and Outside Mullingar (George St. Playhouse.)
Her on-screen credits include Everything Relative, The Bed You Sleep In, with guest appearances on Law & Order. She has taught playwrighting in numerous venues, from Yale School of Drama to Princeton University. She has been teaching at Barnard College since 1995.
She is a member of New Dramatists and has served on the board of T.C.G.
Her most recent publication, by T.C.G., is The Greek Plays. She is married to Rinde Eckert, a theatre artist and composer.
Awards and honors
- Great American Play Contest
- Susan Smith Blackburn Prize
- the NEA
- the Writer's Award from the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund
- the Berilla Kerr Award for playwrighting
- NEA/TCG Theatre Residency Grant.