Playwright, theatre director, professor, activist A feminist and woman of faith, creating theatre for social change and gender justice.
Leslie Jacobson has spent 40 years producing, writing, directing, and teaching theatre committed to addressing societal challenges and to giving voice to people often marginalized by the dominant culture. She has created theatre with women in the prison system, the homeless, and a number of communities internationally. She is the Founding Artistic Director of Horizons Theatre. Under her leadership from 1977 to 2007, Horizons introduced Washington audiences to over 60 new plays and playwrights through fully staged productions, and another 50 through public staged readings. The Women’s Committee of the Dramatists Guild gave Horizons a special award for its outstanding work in producing plays by women playwrights. She has been nominated for the Helen Hayes Award in the category of Outstanding Director three times.
Jacobson has been a Professor of Theatre at The George Washington University since 1977, serving as Department Chair for 13 years. She helped to create the one-year intensive MFA program in Classical Acting with the Shakespeare Theatre, for which she serves as Director of Graduate Studies. She has developed several other new courses and programs at the University, including a course exploring Theatre for Social Change.
In 2003, Jacobson began a relationship with the impoverished rural township of Winterveldt, South Africa. In collaboration with Roy Barber, she has created eight music/theatre pieces with at-risk youth from the Bokamoso Youth Centre there, addressing the HIV/AIDS crisis, family violence, teen pregnancy, and other challenges confronting these youth. Since 2003, a dozen of the youth travel to Washington each January to perform, and to act as informal ambassadors to the D.C. community in general, and The George Washington University community in particular, while raising scholarship funds for the youth. Each summer GW students join Jacobson in working at Bokamoso.
Most recently, she was a guest artist in residence at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco. In 2008, Jacobson was awarded a Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship to Australia. She was a member of the 2001 Leadership America class, joining 99 other women leaders from around the country; and is a past president of the League of Washington Theatres. She graduated cum laude with a degree in Theatre, from Northwestern University; and with a Master of Fine Arts in Directing from Boston University.