Born in Cincinnati, OH; married Jess Lynn (a stage manager); children: Cooper, Cleo. Education: Brandeis University, M.F.A., Ph.D.
Home—Brooklyn, NY. E-mail—[email protected]
Taught at Brandeis University and Columbia University. Writer of episodes for television series, including: American Dreamer, 1990; Dream On, 1991; L.A. Law, 1992, 1994; Total Security, 1997; (and co-producer) NYPD Blue, 1993; (and coexecutive producer) Maximum Bob, 1998; Third Watch, 2000; (and coexecutive producer) Law and Order: Criminal Intent, 2001-03; (and consulting producer) Smith, 2007; (and consulting producer) Six, 2007; and Paris Criminal Inquiries, 2008. Also writer for Brooklyn Bridge and (and producer) for Canterbury's Law. Writer of screenplays, including Harriet the Spy, 1996; Gossip, 2000; and Catwoman, 2004.
Edgar, Mystery Writers of America, for Best Television Episode, 1993, for NYPD Blue episode "Torah! Torah! Torah!"; Emmy nomination (shared) for Outstanding Drama Series, 1993, for NYPD Blue; Writers Guild of America award (shared) for Episodic Drama, 1993, for NYPD Blue episode "Girl Talk"; Hispanic Images Imagen Award and Peabody for NYPD Blue; National Theatre Conference Award for The Family of Mann; Omnium Gatherum was a Pulitzer Prize finalist; William Inge New Voices Playwriting Award, 2003, for The Bells; IRNE Award for Best New Play, and Eliot Norton Award, both 2007, both for Mauritius.
PLAYS, EXCEPT AS NOTED
Loose Knit, Samuel French (New York, NY), 1994.
Bad Dates (produced in Boston, MA, 1994), Samuel French, (New York, NY), 2004.
The Family of Mann: A Comedy in Two Acts (produced in New York, NY, 1994), Samuel French (New York, NY), 1995.
Sunday on the Rocks: A Comedy in Two Acts, Samuel French (New York, NY), 1996.
View of the Dome, Samuel French (New York, NY), 1998.
Theresa Rebeck: Complete Plays, 1989-1998, Smith & Krause (Lyme, NH), 1999.
The Butterfly Collection, Samuel French (New York, NY), 2002.
(With Alexandra Gersten Vassilaros) Omnium Gatherum, Samuel French (New York, NY), 2003.
The Water's Edge, produced in Williamstown, MA, 2004.
Dollhouse: A Drama (based on Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House), Playscripts (New York, NY), 2006.
Theresa Rebeck: Complete Plays, Volume II: 1999-2007, Smith & Kraus (Hanover, NH), 2007.
Theresa Rebeck, Volume III: The Complete Short Plays, 1989-2005, Smith & Kraus (Hanover, NH), 2007.
Free Fire Zone: A Playwright's Adventures on the Creative Battlefields of Film, TV, and Theater (memoir), Smith & Kraus (Hanover, NH), 2007.
The Bells, Samuel French (New York, NY), 2007.
Mauritius, produced in Boston, MA, 2007.
Three Girls and Their Brother: A Novel, Shaye Areheart Books (New York, NY), 2008.
Other plays include The Scene and Our House.
Theresa Rebeck is a playwright who has written many well-received plays, and has also been very successful writing for television. Her first television work was writing for NYPD Blue for Stephen Bochco. Rebeck told Michael Buckley in an interview for Playbill: "I worked for two-and-a-half years, and did about ten scripts. They pay you to be on staff, and then they pay you per episode. It's a lot of money, but that doesn't solve everything. People would say, ‘What are you complaining about? You're making a gazillion dollars.’ I thought, Well, you can still be so tortured that a gazillion dollars doesn't mean much." The show, and Rebeck, garnered many awards for its fine dramatic presentations, and Rebeck went on to write for several other dramas, including L.A. Law, Third Watch, and Law and Order: Criminal Intent. "I was doing a number of plays at the same time," Rebeck told Buckley. "When you're working on several things at once, you never know what's going to hit the front of your consciousness at any given moment." Rebeck has also written screenplays, but she now concentrates on her stage plays rather than dividing her time among many projects.
Jack Helbig reviewed Rebeck's three volumes of collected plays in Booklist. The first covers 1989 to 1998, the period during which Rebeck was so prolific in writing television scripts. Helbig favored The Family of Mann: A Comedy in Two Acts, Rebeck's comedic rant at the sexist, narrow-minded, and juvenile world of television writing. Helbig noted that all of the major living playwrights have written about this subject, "but no one else has portrayed its mixture of stupidity and crude power politics as well as Rebeck does."
Helbig later reviewed Theresa Rebeck: Complete Plays, Volume II: 1999-2007, and Theresa Rebeck, Volume III: The Complete Short Plays, 1989-2005. Helbig wrote that the short plays in the third volume, "in particular, display Rebeck's ability to establish a character and set a story going within a few, adroitly polished lines of dialogue." Helbig also noted her "wicked sense of humor."
Free Fire Zone: A Playwright's Adventures on the Creative Battlefields of Film, TV, and Theater is Rebeck's memoir of her life as a writer and survival in Los Angeles. Helbig felt that her commentary on writing plays and television episodes, "and the rewards and difficulties of working for various media should gratify aspiring writers." Laura A. Ewald reviewed the book in Library Journal, and she also recommended it for anyone considering writing for show business. Ewald felt this book to be "sometimes caustically cynical but always brutally honest" and wrote that Rebeck's considerable experience "gives her anecdotal evidence huge impact."
Three Girls and Their Brother: A Novel is Rebeck's first novel, about which Booklist reviewer Joanne Wilkinson wrote: "Rebeck lands one roundhouse punch after another in this supremely gratifying take-down of show-biz politics." The story is narrated by each of the four siblings of the title. They are the grandchildren of famous literary critic Leo Heller, and the girls Daria, Polly, and Amelia (who are eighteen, seventeen, and fourteen respectively) are beautiful red-haired girls who are photographed for the New Yorker. This takes them out of their Brooklyn environment where they are being raised by their former beauty-queen mother, and into the world of celebrity, where they become easy prey for agents, paparazzi, and other hangers-on who would benefit from their success. When the youngest, Amelia, is groped by an aging movie star, she bites him, but she apologizes and their careers continue to skyrocket with shoots for the top fashion magazines. Amelia is then invited to appear in an off-Broadway play, which increases both her vulnerability and her fame. Philip, the brother who is protective of his sisters, and especially of Amelia, is sent by their mother to live with their father, from whom she is divorced, because she welcomes the publicity and rewards of show business and does not want her son to interfere.
A Kirkus Reviews contributor found this debut novel to be "a wickedly enjoyable exposé of modern celebrity" and concluded by calling it "a timely and entertaining modern morality tale." A Publishers Weekly reviewer felt that Rebeck's "insider's look at the theater world is spot on and uproarious."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Rebeck, Theresa, Free Fire Zone: A Playwright's Adventures on the Creative Battlefields of Film, TV, and Theater, Smith & Kraus (Hanover, NH), 2007.
Booklist, August, 1999, Jack Helbig, review of Theresa Rebeck: Complete Plays, 1989-1998, p. 2012; July 1, 2007, Jack Helbig, review of Free Fire Zone, p. 20; September 1, 2007, Jack Helbig, reviews of Theresa Rebeck: Complete Plays, Volume II: 1999-2007, and Theresa Rebeck, Volume III: The Complete Short Plays, 1989-2005, p. 40; February 1, 2008, Joanne Wilkinson, review of Three Girls and Their Brother: A Novel, p. 29.
Entertainment Weekly, April 4, 2008, Melissa Rose Bernardo, review of Three Girls and Their Brother, p. 67.
Internet Bookwatch, June, 2007, review of Free Fire Zone.
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2008, review of Three Girls and Their Brother.
Library Journal, August, 1999, Barry X. Miller, review of Theresa Rebeck: Complete Plays, 1989-1998, p. 90; July 1, 2007, Laura A. Ewald, review of Free Fire Zone, p. 94; February 15, 2008, Andrea Y. Griffith, review of Three Girls and Their Brother, p. 96.
Publishers Weekly, December 24, 2007, review of Three Girls and Their Brother, p. 26.
Reference & Research Book News, February, 2008, review of Free Fire Zone.
Playbill Online,http://www.playbill.com/ (January 18, 2004), Michael Buckley, "Stage to Screens: A Chat with Theresa Rebeck; Remembering Uta Hagen," author interview.