( 1942- )
Jensen, who was raised in Beaver, Utah, has lived in New York City, California, Detroit, Georgia, Virginia, New Hampshire, Ohio, and, currently, Nevada. She holds a BA and MA from Utah State University and a Ph.D. in theatre from Wayne State University in Detroit. In the 1970s she began writing plays, and between 1974 and 1977, with her partner Mary Roberts, she explored improvisational methods of composition and performance. They performed their own material at the Grand Circus Exchange, Detroit, Michigan a theatre they managed for three years, at the Attic Theatre in Detroit, and in a showcase in New York. A teacher of playwriting, Jensen has taught at a number of colleges and universities and now heads the graduate program in playwriting at the University of Nevada--Las Vegas. Prior to that position, she lived in Los Angeles and wrote for film and television. She wrote episodes for a Norman Lear pilot, worked in comedy development for Columbia Pictures Television, and cowrote a half-hour film for the American Film Institute. Because of her varied geographical past, Jensen said in correspondence about herself that "she thinks she knows a lot about America."
Jensen's plays often deal with troubled, working-class families who are held together by the resources of the wife and mother. The perspective is quirky and off-center, and a character's damaged psyche is manifested as a darkly humorous eccentricity. In Stray Dogs, Nyda, the mother, is married to Myers, an alcoholic, and has two young boys: one hyperactive and mean-spirited and the other well- behaved but judgmental because of his adherence to the Mormon religion. The