Freed was born in Manhattan and grew up in The Bronx, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Westchester County, New York. Her father, Richard, was an architect. Her mother is the actor, acting teacher and director Margaret Loft.
She earned a degree in acting at Southern Methodist University. She spent several years in New York and then attended the American Conservatory Theater (ACT) in San Francisco, receiving an M.F.A. While at ACT she wrote a play rather than a thesis for her degree. That play, Still Warm, is loosely based on the TV newswoman Jessica Savitch, and "became a precocious playwriting debut when it was produced at the Climate Theatre in 1991."
Freed was nominated as a finalist in the drama category of the 1998 Pulitzer Prizes for her play Freedomland.Freedomland was produced Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons, running from December 16, 1998 to January 3, 1999. Directed by Howard Shalwitz, the cast featured Veanne Cox, Jeffrey Donovan, and Heather Goldenhersh. The "darkly satiric comedy" premiered at the South Coast Repertory, Costa Mesa, California, in November 1997. The title is based on the "name of a Wild West theme park in the Bronx, where Freed grew up."
Her play The Psychic Life of Savages won the New York Arts Club's $10,000 Joseph Kesselring Award. The play ran at Woolly Mammoth in Washington, D. C. opening in April 1995. Lloyd Rose, reviewing for The Washington Post, called the play an "exultantly mean, painfully affecting comedy." That production won a 1995 Charles McArthur Award for outstanding new play. The play also ran at the Wilma Theater, Philadelphia in May 1998. Regarding this play, Freed "calls herself, 'an examiner of pathologies.'"
She wrote The Beard of Avon which was commissioned and premiered by South Coast Repertory, opening in May 2001. The play was produced Off-Broadway by the New York Theatre Workshop, running from November 18, 2003 to December 21, 2003. Directed by Doug Hughes, the cast included Tim Blake Nelson as Wiliam Shakspere [sic], Mark Harelik as Edward De Vere, Mary Louise Wilson as Queen Elizabeth and Kate Jennings Grant as Anne Hathaway.
Her play Safe in Hell, another South Coast Repertory commission, received its premiere production in April 2004. The play received its East Coast premiere at the Yale Repertory Theatre in November 2005. The play is "the story of real-life father and son Puritan preachers Cotton and Increase Mather. The comedy delves into the story behind the witch hunt."
The Monster-Builder premiered at Artists Repertory Theatre, Portland, Oregon, in February 2014. Called a "wonderfully wild and witty play" by Richard Wattenberg, it focuses on a master architect, Gregor Zubrowski, whose "single-minded pursuit of professional glory has stripped him of his humanity."
She wrote Hell to Pay, one of twenty works commissioned by the Berkeley Rep as part of The Food Project. She gave a lecture on the play in February 2014 at Stanford.
Her work has been produced at New York Theatre Workshop, Seattle Repertory, American Conservatory Theater, Goodman Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and other theaters around the US.
She currently teaches acting and playwriting at Stanford University.
Freed received the South Coast Repertory (SCR) 2009 Steinberg Commission, which involved a grant from the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust to write a play for SCR.