ALUMNUS CONGRATULATIONS: Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins
Many Wildwood alumni go on to great success, be it within the theatre world or otherwise. One such success story is that of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins -- one of last years’ recipients of the MacArthur Genius Award. At the age of 31, Jacobs-Jenkins became a MacArthur Genius fellow as a Playwright, in recognition of such titles as Neighbors (2010), Appropriate (2012), An Octoroon (2014), and Gloria (2015). These plays share a common theme of exploring the world, and challenge their audiences to make connections and sympathize with communities surrounding them – to “see each other in each other.” Described as “subversive, fearless and risky” the MacArthur Grant Foundation praises Jacobs-Jenkins for “[engaging] frankly with complicated issues” as well as “[using] a historical lens to satirize and comment on modern culture.” His works have also won him the 2014 Obie Award for Best New American Play (tie between An Octoroon and Appropriate) and The Vineyard’s Paula Vogel Playwriting Award.
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins received a B.A.from Princeton University (2006) and an M.A. from New York University (2007), and he is a graduate of the Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program at Juilliard (2014). His plays have been performed at prestigious venues such as the Lincoln Center Theatre/LCT3, the Soho Rep, the Public Theatre, the Yale Repertory Theatre, the Actors Theater of Louisville, and the Center Theatre Group, among others. Jacobs-Jenkins is currently a Residency Five playwright at Signature Theatre and master-artist-in-residence in the Playwriting MFA program of Hunter College, City University of New York. But before all this, he was a member of our wonderful company, Wildwood Summer Theatre. He was a company member for several years, as well as a board member for the terms of 2002-2003 and 2003-2004. Although not citing Wildwood specifically, Jacobs-Jenkins said in his interview for the MacArthur Grant that the catalyst to his playwriting career was both his “bookish” nature and growing up in a community where “theatre was a very present thing socially.” We are very proud of our alumnus and wish him success in his future endeavors to bringing important topics and beautiful stories to the stage.