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Awardee: Branden Jacobs-Jenkins

Performing Arts, 2016

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ playwright credits include Gloria (Vineyard Theatre), Appropriate (Obie Award; Outer Critics Circle Nomination; Signature Theatre), Neighbors (The Public Theater), An Octoroon (Obie Award; Soho Rep, Theatre for a New Audience) and War (Yale Rep). Branden is currently a Residency Five playwright at the Signature Theater.  His work has been seen at Actor’s Theater of Louisville, Victory Gardens Theater, Woolly Mammoth Theater, The Matrix Theater in LA, Mixed Blood Theater in Minneapolis, CompanyOne in Boston, and the HighTide Festival in the UK. He is under commission from Lincoln Center/LCT-3 and MTC.  Honors include a Paula Vogel Award, a fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the inaugural Tennessee Williams award. He has taught at NYU and Queens University of Charlotte and holds an MA in Performance Studies from NYU and a BA from Princeton University.  Graduate of the Lila Acheson Wallace Playwrights Program at The Juilliard School.

Project: The Jacobs-Jenkins/Tropicana Project

A My Dinner With Andre-style debate with compare-and-contrast performances delivered throughout, The Jacobs-Jenkins/Tropicana Project touches on how art relates to history and history relates to art, updating it through the artists’ personal histories and experiences. While the two artists share a number of aesthetic and thematic concerns—identity, belonging, the nature of history and storytelling—the work that they make and the context in which they make it could not be more different. Since the 80s, Carmelita has worked on the fringes of a “mainstream,” which has very little room for queer artists of color, whereas Branden, whose works have appeared at The Public Theater, has directly profited from funding structures geared towards the encouragement of “minority” voices, something virtually unheard of 25 years ago.