( 1946- )
Schenkar was born and raised in Seattle, Washington, in the 1940s in a comfortable Jewish household but attended Episcopalian preparatory schools. She left the West Coast for Bennington College, where she planned to major in archaeology but graduated in literature. Although she continued her studies for a time at the University of California at Berkeley, she returned to the East for a doctoral program at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, but left the program when the university refused to accept a play as her dissertation. Her plays reflect her academic training in the way she draws on history and literature. Schenkar's distorted treatment of facts is, however, unique. "I go to the ends of my nerves and bring back the news. . . . I get up out of my dreams and write. I allow myself to dream things I cannot live through" ( Zimmer, 96). Her playwriting began on a farm in Vermont, and she continues to alternate living in the country with living in New York City. In the city, she has worked with Joseph Chaikin's Winter Project and the Polish Laboratory Theatre as a playwright in residence and has taught creative writing at the School for the Visual Arts. Schenkar has studied ballet, painting, and music, and she plays several instruments. She sees the composition of her plays as similar to musical composition and feels her plays should be played like Noel Coward without the subtext. Her plays are widely produced by experimental theatres and colleges and universities in North America, Great Britain, and Europe, and her work is the subject of a number of analyses in academic journals. Schenkar is a member of P.E.N., the Brontë Society, the League of Professional Theatre Women, the Women's Project, and the Dramatists Guild.