Theresa Rebeck

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Theresa Rebeck
Born (1958-02-19) February 19, 1958 (age 66)
EducationUniversity of Notre Dame (BA)
Brandeis University (MA, MFA, PhD)
  • Playwright
  • writer
  • novelist
SpouseJess Lynn

Theresa Rebeck (born February 19, 1958)[citation needed] is an American playwright, television writer, and novelist. Her work has appeared on the Broadway and Off-Broadway stage, in film, and on television. Among her awards are the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Award. In 2012, she received the Athena Film Festival Award for Excellence as a Playwright and Author of Films, Books, and Television.[1] She is a 2009 recipient of the Alex Awards. Her works have influenced American playwrights by bringing a feminist edge in her old works.

Early life and education[edit]

Rebeck was born in Kenwood, Ohio, and graduated from Cincinnati's Ursuline Academy in 1976.[2][3] She earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Notre Dame in 1980,[4] and followed that with three degrees from Brandeis University: an MA in English 1983, a MFA in Playwriting in 1986, and a PhD in Victorian era melodrama, awarded in 1989.[5]


Past New York productions of her work include Mauritius on Broadway at the Biltmore Theatre in a Manhattan Theater Club production; The Scene, The Water's Edge, Loose Knit, The Family of Mann and Spike Heels at Second Stage Theatre; Bad Dates and The Butterfly Collection at Playwrights Horizons; and View of the Dome at New York Theatre Workshop. Omnium Gatherum (co-written, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2003) was featured at the Humana Festival, and had a commercial run at the Variety Arts Theatre in 2003.[6] Her play The Understudy, premiered at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in the summer of 2008, with a cast including Reg Rogers, Bradley Cooper and Kristen Johnson, and ran in New York at the Roundabout Theatre from October 2009 – January 2010, featuring Julie White, Justin Kirk, and Mark-Paul Gosselaar in the cast.[7] The off-Broadway and regional theatre hit comedy premiered in 2015 at Artists Repertory Theatre in Portland.[8] Rebeck was attached as a book writer for the new musical Ever After, based on the Drew Barrymore movie of the same name.[9] That show was expected to start pre-Broadway tryouts in San Francisco in April 2009, but was postponed. Her play, Mauritius, ran at the Pasadena Playhouse in California from March 27 through April 26, 2009.[10]

Her play Seminar played on Broadway starting in October 2011, and starred Alan Rickman.[11] In May 2014 Seminar premiered in San Francisco at San Francisco Playhouse receiving outstanding reviews.[12] Her play Fool premiered at the Alley Theatre, Houston, Texas, in February 2014.[13] The theme of the play Seminar was women empowerment through sexuality and the struggles of what it is to be a female in an industry dominated by men.

Her play Poor Behavior opened Off-Broadway at Primary Stages in August 2014. The play premiered at the Mark Taper Forum in 2011.[14]

In an article in The New York Times in September 2007, she said that her plays were about "betrayal and treason and poor behavior. A lot of poor behavior."[15] Rebeck's other publications include Free Fire Zone, a book of comedic essays about writing and show business. She has written for American Theatre magazine and has had excerpts of her plays published in the Harvard Review. Rebeck's first novel, Three Girls and Their Brother, was published in 2008 by Random House/Shaye Areheart Books.

She has received awards including the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Award, the Writers Guild of America Award for Episodic Drama, the Hispanic Images Imagen Award, and the Peabody Award, all for her work on NYPD Blue. She has won the National Theatre Conference Award (for The Family of Mann), and was awarded the William Inge New Voices Playwriting Award in 2003 for The Bells. Mauritius was originally produced at Boston's Huntington Theatre, where it received the 2007 IRNE Award for Best New Play as well as the Elliot Norton Award. In 2010, Rebeck was honored with the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award for an American playwright in mid-career.

In television, Rebeck has written for Dream On, Brooklyn Bridge, L.A. Law, American Dreamer, Maximum Bob, First Wave, and Third Watch. She has been a writer/producer for Canterbury's Law, Smith, Law & Order: Criminal Intent and NYPD Blue. Through March 2012 she was one of the executive producers for the NBC musical series Smash, which she created, and which also debuted on February 6, 2012. Her produced feature film screenplays include Harriet the Spy, Gossip, and the independent feature Sunday on the Rocks.


Rebeck is Distinguished Professor of Playwriting and holds the Lyndall Finley Wortham Chair in the Performing Arts at the University of Houston.

Rebeck is a board member of The Dramatists Guild and the Lark Play Development Center in New York City, and has taught at Brandeis University and Columbia University. In 2014 she will join the faculty of the University of Houston School of Theatre and Dance as a distinguished visiting professor of playwriting.[16]

Personal life[edit]

Rebeck is married, residing with her husband, Jess Lynn, and two children, Cooper and Cleo in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Three Girls and their Brother is dedicated to both Cooper and Cleo.[15]



Her other work as a playwright includes:

Year Title Venue Ref.
2007 Mauritius Biltmore Theatre, Broadway [17]
2007 The Understudy Williamstown Theatre Festival; World Premiere [18]
2011 O Beautiful University of Delaware [19]
2011 Poor Behavior Mark Taper Forum; World Premiere [20]
2011 What We're Up Against Magic Theatre, San Francisco [20]
2011 Seminar John Golden Theatre, Broadway [21]
2012 Dead Accounts Music Box Theatre, Broadway [22]
2016 The Nest Denver Center Theatre Company [23]
2016 Seared San Francisco Playhouse; World Premiere [24]
2018 Bernhardt/Hamlet American Airlines Theatre, Broadway [25]
2019 Dig Dorset Playhouse; World Premiere [20]
2022 Mad House Ambassadors Theatre, West End [26]
2023 I Need That American Airlines Theatre, Broadway [27]


Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes Ref.
1990–1991 American Dreamer No Yes No [28]
1992–1994 L.A. Law No Yes No 2 episodes [28]
1991–1992 Dream On No Yes No 4 episodes [28]
1991–1992 Brooklyn Bridge No Yes No 2 episodes [28]
1997 Total Security No Yes No Also Creator; 2 episodes [28]
1998 Maximum Bob No Yes Executive Episode: "Bay of Big's" [28]
2000 Third Watch No Yes No Episode: "Demolition Derby" [28]
2001–2003 Law & Order: Criminal Intent No Yes Executive 41 episodes [28]
2007–2008 Law & Order: Criminal Mind No Yes Yes 4 episodes [28]
2007 Smith No Yes Consulting Episode: "Six" [28]
2008 Canterbury's Law No Yes Executive 5 episodes [28]
2012–2013 Smash No Yes Executive Also Creator; 32 episodes [29]
2013 Copper No Yes No Episode: "Think Gently of the Erring" [28]
2014 The Divide No Yes No Episode: "I Can't Go Back" [28]
2015 Hand of God No Yes No Episode: "A Flower That Bees Prefer" [28]
2016 Of Kings and Prophets No Yes No 2 episodes [28]
2018 The Russian Cousin Yes No No Television Movie [28]
2020 For the Record Yes No No Episode: "Autumn Elegy" [28]


Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes Ref.
1995 Harriet the Spy No Yes No [28]
2000 Gossip No Yes No [28]
2004 Catwoman No Yes No Story by [30]
2004 Sunday on the Rocks No Yes No [28]
2010 Seducing Charlie Barker No Yes No Based on her play The Scene [31]
2016 Poor Behavior Yes Yes No [28]
2016 Walk No Yes No Short film [28]
2017 Trouble Yes Yes Yes [28]
2019 Date No Yes Yes Short film [28]
2022 Spike Heels No Yes No Short film [28]
2022 The 355 No Yes No [32]
2022 Glimpse Yes Yes No [28]
2024 Eco Village No No Yes [28]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Project Result Ref.
1996 Edgar Award Best Television Episode NYPD Blue (episode: "Torah! Torah! Torah!") Won
1996 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Drama Series NYPD Blue (season three) Nominated [33]
1997 NYPD Blue (season four) Nominated [34]
1997 Writers Guild of America Episodic Drama NYPD Blue (episode: "Girl Talk") Won [35]
2005 Razzie Award Worst Screenplay Catwoman Won [36]



  • I'm Glad About You (2016)
  • Twelve Rooms with a View (2011)
  • Three Girls and Their Brother: A Novel by Theresa Rebeck (2009)


  • "Free Fire Zone: A Playwright's Adventures on the Creative Battlefields of Film, TV, and Theater" (2007)


  • Rebeck, Theresa (1999), Theresa Rebeck: Complete Plays Volume I, 1989 – 1998 (1st ed.), Smith & Kraus, ISBN 1-57525-172-8
  • Rebeck, Theresa (2007), Theresa Rebeck: Complete Plays Volume II 1999 - 2007 (1st ed.), Smith & Kraus, ISBN 978-1-57525-444-9
  • Rebeck, Theresa (2007), Theresa Rebeck: Complete Plays Volume III Short Plays 1989 - 2005 (1st ed.), Smith & Kraus, ISBN 978-1-57525-447-0


  1. ^ The Athena Film Festival:
  2. ^ Kiesewetter, John. title = Kenwood native delves into criminal mind on Law & Order. Cincinnati Enquirer. November 18, 2001.
  3. ^ "The Women of the Years". Ursuline Academy. Theresa Rebeck '76
  4. ^ FTT Talks presents Theresa RebeckAuthor, playwright, and screenwriter“Writing for the Stage, Screen and Page Archived July 8, 2012, at University of Notre Dame Film, television, and Theatre Department. September 18, 2008. "ND '80".
  5. ^ "Class Notes: 1980s". Brandeis Magazine. Brandeis University. Summer 2011. Theresa Rebeck, M.A.'83, M.F.A.'86, Ph.D.'89
  6. ^ Brantley, Ben."Theater Review; A Feisty Feast Of Wicked Wit". The New York Times. September 26, 2003.
  7. ^ Laura Pels Theatre. Roundabout Theatre Company.
  8. ^ Artists Repertory Theatre.
  9. ^ "Kathleen Marshall Will Direct Broadway Debut of 'Ever After' Based On 1998 Cinderella Film" Archived January 4, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ McNulty, Charles. "Review: 'Mauritius' at Pasadena Playhouse". Los Angeles Times. April 5, 2009.
  11. ^ Jones, Kenneth. Broadway's Seminar, Starring Alan Rickman, Available in Presale Sept. 6–16; General Sale Starts Sept. 17" Archived September 28, 2011, at the Wayback Machine., September 6, 2011.
  12. ^ "San Francisco Playhouse". Retrieved June 22, 2020.
  13. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Theresa Rebeck's 'Fool' Opens at the Alley Theatre Feb. 26" Archived March 2, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, February 26, 2014
  14. ^ Hetrick, Adam."Ethics and Infidelity: Theresa Rebeck Comedy Poor Behavior Opens Off-Broadway Tonight" Archived August 19, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, August 17, 2014
  15. ^ a b Simonson, Robert. "An Acute Interest in Bad Behavior". The New York Times. September 23, 2007.
  16. ^ Acclaimed Playwright Theresa Rebeck Joining UH School of Theatre & Dance by Mike Emery. University of Houston News & Events, June 2, 2014. Retrieved June 9, 2014.
  17. ^ [1] Archived March 21, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ "Review: The Understudy". Time Out Boston. n.d. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  19. ^ Healy, Patrick. Staging the Politics of Abortion. The New York Times. April 13, 2011.
  20. ^ a b c "Theresa Rebeck". Abouttheartist. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
  21. ^ "Seminar (Broadway, 2011)". Playbill. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
  22. ^ Hetrick, Adam."Katie Holmes to Return to Broadway in Theresa Rebeck's 'Dead Accounts' This Fall" Archived December 30, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, July 19, 2012
  23. ^ [2] Denver, January 7, 2016
  24. ^ "Seared | World Premiere at San Francisco Playhouse", August 19, 2016
  25. ^ Bernhardt/Hamlet
  26. ^ "World Première - Mad House - Stars announced!". London Box Office. n.d. Retrieved March 17, 2022.
  27. ^ "I Need That". Playbill. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
  28. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa "Theresa Rebeck". IMDB. Retrieved May 15, 2024./
  29. ^ "Read Smash creator's essay about being fired from her own show". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
  30. ^ "Catwoman Movie Still Alive and Purring?". IGN. February 5, 2001. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
  31. ^ "Seducing Charlie Barker". Village Voice. December 7, 2011. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
  32. ^ "How 'The 355' Rewrites Spy Tropes for Female-Fronted Action Thriller". The Hollywood Reporter. January 12, 2022. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
  33. ^ "48th Primetime Emmy Awards". Television Academy. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
  34. ^ "49th Primetime Emmy Awards". Television Academy. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
  35. ^ "DIANA 'THRILLED' TO MEET MANDELA IN SOUTH AFRICA". Sun-Sentinel. March 18, 1997. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
  36. ^ "DC's Lowest Rated Movie Ever Celebrated By Star 19 Years After Notorious Razzies Win". ScreenRant. February 27, 2024. Retrieved May 15, 2024.

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