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Lisa Loomer

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Lisa Loomer
Born1950 (age 73–74)
New York City, U.S.
OccupationPlaywright, screenwriter, actress
Alma materNew York University Tisch School of the Arts
Notable worksThe Waiting Room

Living Out

Notable awardsJane Chambers Playwriting Award

Susan Smith Blackburn Prize
Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award
Back Stage West Garland Award for Playwriting
Imagen Award

American Theatre Critics Association Steinberg New Play Award

Lisa Loomer (born 1950) is an American playwright and screenwriter[1] who has also worked as an actress and stand-up comic.[2] She is best known for her play The Waiting Room (1994), in which three women from different time periods meet in a modern doctor's waiting room, each suffering from the effects of their various societies' cosmetic body modification practices (foot binding, corsetry, and breast implantation).[3][4] She also co-wrote the screenplay for the film Girl, Interrupted. Many of her plays deal with the experiences of Latinas and immigrant characters. Others deal with social and political issues through the lens of contemporary family life. Beyond that, Loomer's play The Waiting Room discusses issues such as body image, breast cancer, and non-Western medicine.[5]

Early life[edit]

Lisa Loomer was born in New York and moved to Mexico with her family in her late teens.[6][7] She is of Spanish and Romanian ancestry.[1] Loomer studied theatre at Brandeis University and New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.[5][6]


Lisa Loomer began her career as an actress and comedienne. Her first work for theater was A Crowd of Two at the American Place Theatre. This was followed by a one-woman show, All By Herselves, at the Westside Arts Theatre. She began writing plays at the Intar Playwrights Lab, under the direction of Maria Irene Fornes. Her first play Birds was produced by South Coast Rep.

Lisa Loomer's play Roe, about Roe v. Wade, was originally commissioned through the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's American Revolutions program.[8] It was first produced at OSF in a production that traveled to Arena Stage[9] and Berkeley Rep.[10] It received the Jane Chambers Playwriting Award[11] and the Pen Award.[12]

Her play Homefree was commissioned and developed at Denver Center Theater Company before receiving its world premiere in Los Angeles at the Road Theatre.[13]

Café Vida, about female gang members, was presented at the Los Angeles Theatre Center by the Cornerstone Theatre Company in partnership with Homeboy Industries, and was nominated for an Ovation Award for Best Play.[14]

Two Things You Don't Talk About at Dinner had its world premiere at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

Distracted had its world premiere at the Mark Taper Forum and was subsequently produced at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The play was produced at the Roundabout Theatre Company in New York in a production starring Cynthia Nixon and has subsequently been produced in theatres throughout the U.S.

Living Out had its world premiere at the Mark Taper Forum and was produced at the Second Stage Theater in New York. It has been produced at such theaters as Seattle Rep, Milwaukee Rep, The Denver Center, and Theatreworks, often in bi-lingual productions, as well as in Israel, Europe, and Mexico.

Her play The Waiting Room went from the Williamstown Theater Festival to the Mark Taper Forum to highly successful productions at Arena Stage and Trinity Rep, and then to the Vineyard Theatre in New York. It has been widely produced nationally and internationally.

Expecting Isabell had its world premiere at Arena Stage and its west coast premiere at the Mark Taper Forum. It has been produced in New York and nationally.

Bocón!, a political fable for young audiences, began at the Taper and has been seen throughout the country, from the Kennedy Center, to Seattle's Group Theater and the La Jolla Playhouse, as well as in Germany, Alaska, and Mexico.

For the Cornerstone Theatre Company, she also wrote Broken Hearts, produced at the Los Angeles Theatre Center.

Other plays by Loomer which have been performed publicly include Maria, Maria, Maria, Maria! (Mixed Blood), Accelerando (Odyssey Theatre Ensemble), and Looking for Angels (The Public Theater).

Loomer is an alumna of New Dramatists and the recipient of two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and a grant from the New York Foundation for the Arts. Awards include the Jane Chambers Award[15] (twice), the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award,[16] a Garland Award, a Lurie Foundation Award, an Ovation Award, and the American Theatre Critics Association Award[17] (twice). She has also received an Imagen Award for positive portrayals of Latinos in all media. Her plays have been selected for the Otis Guernsey Jr./Burns Mantle anthologies The Best Plays of 1994–1995, The Best Plays of 1998–1999, and The Best Plays of 2003-2004. Loomer's works have been published by Dramatists Play Service, TCG, Dramatic Publishing, and Arte Publico Press. Roe, The Waiting Room, and Living Out are widely taught in university drama programs, Women's Studies programs, and Latino Studies programs.

Loomer also writes for film and television, both comedy and drama. She was a supervising producer for the second season of Love Is… on OWN. Her films include Girl, Interrupted, and Nappily Ever After for Netflix. Loomer has written TV pilots for HBO, CBS, Fox, and Showtime.

Loomer adapted the play Real Women Have Curves into a stage musical of the same name that premiered in 2023.[18]


Loomer has won the Jane Chambers Playwriting Award (in 1994 for The Waiting Room[19]), the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award, a Back Stage West Garland Award for Playwriting (in 2003 for Living Out[20]), the Imagen Award for positive portrayals of Latinos in all media, and American Theatre Critics Association Steinberg New Play Award (in 1995 for The Waiting Room and in 1999 for Expecting Isabel.)[2][21] She was also the recipient of two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, and one from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.[22]

Select plays[edit]

Play Title Premiere Date Premiere Theatre Premiere City Premiere Reviews ISBN for published version of play
Chain of Life 1990 Renegade Theatre Company's One Act Play Festival at the United Synagogue of Hoboken Hoboken, NJ New York Times
The Waiting Room 1994 Mark Taper Forum Los Angeles Variety ISBN 0-8222-1594-2
Maria! Maria! Maria! Maria! 1996 Mixed Blood Theatre Company Minneapolis, MN Mac Weekly
Expecting Isabel October 7, 1998 Arena Stage Washington, DC CurtainUp ISBN 0-8222-1995-6
Broken Hearts: A B.H. Mystery November 12, 1999 Cornerstone Theatre Company at the Los Angeles Theatre Center Los Angeles CurtainUp
Living Out Jan 18, 2003 Mark Taper Forum Los Angeles Curtain Up Variety TalkinBroadway.com ISBN 978-0-8222-1994-1 ISBN 0822219948
Distracted March 15, 2007 Mark Taper Forum Los Angeles Blog Critics Magazine LA Times Variety
Roe April 20, 2016 Oregon Shakespeare Festival Ashland, OR New York Times


  1. ^ a b Breslauer, Jan (August 7, 1994). "As Her Many Worlds Turn". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 25, 2007.
  2. ^ a b "Biography: Lisa Loomer". Meet the Company. Ashland, OR: Oregon Shakespeare Festival. 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-12.
  3. ^ "Seattle Rep presents Northwest premiere of LIVING OUT" (PDF). East Side Latino Leadership Forum newsletter. Bellevue and East King County, WA: East Side Latino Leadership Forum. January 2004. pp. 1–2. Retrieved 2007-10-12.
  4. ^ "Lisa Loomer - complete guide to Playwrights and Plays". The Playwrights Database. 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-13.
  5. ^ a b Peterson, Jane T.; Bennett, Suzanne (1997-01-01). Women Playwrights of Diversity: A Bio-bibliographical Sourcebook. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 216. ISBN 9780313291791. lisa loomer biography.
  6. ^ a b Breslauer, Jan (1994-08-07). "As Her Many Worlds Turn : Lisa Loomer is a playwright who also writes for (gasp!) TV sitcoms. And then there's the Latina thing. So, how does it all work together? Very well, thanks". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-03-10.
  7. ^ Taylor, Kate (2016-08-24). "A Playwright Finds Drama, and Humor, in Roe v. Wade". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-03-10.
  8. ^ ROE
  9. ^ "Roe". www.arenastage.org. Retrieved 2018-11-06.
  10. ^ "Roe at Berkeley Rep". www.berkeleyrep.org.
  11. ^ "Jane Chambers Playwriting Award - ATHE - Association for Theatre in Higher Education".
  12. ^ https://www.osfashland.org/press-room/press-releases/roe-pen-award.aspx. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. ^ "Review: Scenes from the street life of the young and untethered". Los Angeles Times. September 25, 2015.
  14. ^ "Café Vida". Homeboy Industries. Archived from the original on 2020-10-25. Retrieved 2018-11-06.
  15. ^ "ATHE 2019 Annual Conference—Orlando - Association for Theatre in Higher Education".
  16. ^ "Playwrights, Regionals Reap Kennedy Center New Play Grants". Playbill. October 12, 1998.
  17. ^ "Home". American Theatre Critics Association.
  18. ^ [1]
  19. ^ Layfer, Lauren ."Loomer play spotlights three ladies in 'Waiting' Archived 2007-08-19 at the Wayback Machine." The Michigan Daily Online. 1997-11-19. Retrieved on 2007-10-13.
  20. ^ Living Out: Performance Guide Archived 2007-02-21 at the Wayback Machine Palo Alto, CA: Theatre Works. 2004. 7. Retrieved on: 2007-10-13.
  21. ^ ATCA/Steinberg New Play Award Winners Archived 2008-06-18 at the Wayback Machine. St. Paul, MN: American Theatre Critics Association. 2007. Retrieved on: 2007-10-13.
  22. ^ Jennings, Coleman A. (1998). "Lisa Loomer". In Coleman A. Jennings (ed.). Theatre for Young Audiences. New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 429. ISBN 0-312-18194-9.