Terry Baum Biography
Pioneer lesbian playwright Terry Baum has been writing plays since 1972, on issues ranging from
gay and immigrant rights, feminism, anti-Semitism, and medical-ethical dilemmas to the eternal
pursuit of love.
In 1972, while a graduate student at UC Santa Barbara, Baum founded the Isla Vista Community
Theater, which included a children’s theater project and a feminist project. Baum co-wrote and acted in all shows. In 1974, Baum moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and founded Lilith, a women's theater collective, which she led for five years. In 1979, Lilith toured Europe with Moonlighting, A Play About Women and work and Sacrifices, A Fable About the Women’s Movement, both conceived by and co-written by Baum.
In 1980, Baum wrote Dos Lesbos, A Play By, For and About Perverts with Carolyn Myers. Baum co-starred in the original production, and this two-woman tour-de-force played for two years. Dos Lesbos has been published, translated into Dutch, Swedish, and Italian and continues to be produced around the world. It inspired the first anthology of plays by lesbians, Places, Please, (1985) edited by Kate McDermott.
In 1982, Baum’s first solo show, Ego Trip, or I’m Getting My Shit Together and Dumping It All on You,
had a long run in San Francisco. This very personal show explored coming out as a lesbian, and
being a temp worker in a big corporation, among other compelling life issues. In 1983, Baum
premiered her solo drama, Immediate Family at the First Women's Theater Festival in Santa Cruz.
She has toured the U.S., Europe and in Israel with this tale of a woman's struggle to have her dying
wife removed from a respirator. Since being published in Places, Please, it has been translated into
French and Dutch and produced all over the world. It was a great success on Dutch stage and
television, performed by a Dutch movie star. It also won the KPFA Radio Playwriting Competition. A film of Baum in Immediate Family has been shown at gay film festivals in Berlin, Milan and San
Francisco. In March, 2015, Baum performed Immediate Family at Mejunje, the diversity center in
Santa Clara, Cuba.
In 1986, Baum moved to Amsterdam, where she created One Fool or How I Learned to Stop
Worrying and Love the Dutch or the Astonishing and Terrifying Adventures of a Yankee Dyke in
Amsterdam. One Fool was chosen one of the ten best plays of 1988 by the San Francisco Bay
Guardian, and was published in Tough Acts to Follow, an anthology of gay one-act plays in 1992.
While living in Europe, Baum also wrote (with Stephanie Johnson) The Black Jewish American
Lesbian Show, which dealt with homophobia, racism and anti-Semitism in a probing but
In 1991, Women in Line, an absurd farce about women's rage, was produced by Love Creek Theater
in New York City, a gay festival in Pittsburgh, and a battered women’s shelter in Ashland, Oregon. In
1994, Baum's play Enid's Fly Trap, about the demise of a lesbian bar, won the Restless Pens Award
and received staged readings in San Francisco and Ashland, Oregon. In 1996, Two Fools, or Love
Conquers All – Not!, the romance of two women who can’t legally live in the same country, premiered in San Francisco. It was published in Intimate Acts (1997), and had two successful runs in New York (1998, 1999) and was produced by Theatre Rhinoceros in San Francisco (2004).
Divide the Living Child, was part of the Ashland (Ore.) New Plays Festival and had a full production at Ashland University in Ohio (1999). This play takes place in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam and concerns a Jewish mother and daughter who are hidden by a Christian woman bent on converting the young girl. Both Enid's and Divide were semi-finalists for the Jane Chambers Award; Two Fools was a finalist.
In 2002, City Lights Theater (San Jose) commissioned Baum to write Chanukah Butch for their
annual holiday show. Waiting for the Podiatrist (renamed Awaiting the Podiatrist), a solo play with
songs and puppets, premiered in San Francisco in 2003. This one-woman farce portrays a mother
and middle-aged daughter wrestling with whether to pull the plug on the comatose father whose
toenails desperately need clipping. It received rave reviews in San Francisco, and toured to Ohio and Holland.
Baum’s play about her 2004 run as the Green Party candidate for Congress, Baum for Peace,
premiered in Ashland, Ore., ran at The Marsh in San Francisco in 2006, and was part of the 2007
New York International Fringe Festival.
In January 2008, The Crackpot Crones, a collaboration with Carolyn Myers, premiered in New
Mexico. The Crones’ feminist sketch comedy and improvisation have graced the New York
International Fringe Festival (2012), the Santa Cruz Fringe Festival (2013, Women on the Way
Festival and the National Queer Arts Festival, the University of Redlands (CA), and various venues in
New York, Oregon and California. In 2016, the Crones toured Mexico, performing in English and
Spanish in Mexico City, Oaxaca and San Miguel de Allende.
In February 2013, Baum toured her new play, Lesbo Solo! A Lesbian Life in the Theater, in South
Africa. Lesbo Solo consists of excerpts from several of Baum’s plays, interspersed with her
descriptions of the creation of these works. Her one-act play, Bride of Lesbostein, a lesbian parody of the Frankenstein myth, premiered in October 2013 at The Garage in San Francisco. Crones for the Holidays, written and performed by Baum and Myers, was a hit in 2013 at the Exit Theater in San Francisco.
Baum’s solo play, Hick: A Love Story, The Romance of Lorena Hickok & Eleanor Roosevelt, opened
in San Francisco in July 2014 to great acclaim and played to packed houses. Critics lauded the play
as “A real love story like no other,” and Baum’s performance as “Brilliant!” Hick also had a sold-out
run in 2015 in Berkeley. In August 2015 Hick was produced at the New York International Fringe Festival, where it was selected as a Fringe Fave and chosen for the Fringe Encore Series. Baum then performed Hick at the Baltimore Theatre Project in February 2016. Baum will reprise Awaiting the Podiatrist at the 2016 San Francisco Fringe Festival.
Baum remains a committed political activist. Besides running for Congress, she ran for Mayor of San Francisco in 2011. She had a great time and made a difference. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild.