Baker at the 2014
Brooklyn Book Festival
|Born||April 1981 (age 39)|
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
|Notable works||Body Awareness (2008)|
Circle Mirror Transformation (2009)
The Aliens (2010)
The Flick (2013)
|Notable awards||Pulitzer Prize for Drama|
Steinberg Playwright Award
Annie Baker (born April 1981) is an American playwright and teacher who won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for her play The Flick. Among her works are the Shirley, Vermont plays, which take place in the fictional town of Shirley: Circle Mirror Transformation, Body Awareness, and The Aliens. She was named a MacArthur Fellow for 2017.
Baker's family lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when Baker was born, but soon moved to Amherst, Massachusetts, where she grew up and where her father, Conn Nugent, was an administrator for the Five Colleges consortium and her mother Linda Baker was a psychology doctoral student. Her brother is author Benjamin Baker Nugent. Baker graduated from the Department of Dramatic Writing at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. She earned her Master of Fine Arts degree in playwriting from Brooklyn College in 2009. One of her early jobs was as a guest-wrangler helping to oversee contestants on the reality-television program The Bachelor.
Through her marriage to Nico Baumbach, she is the sister-in-law of Noah Baumbach.
Body Awareness, her first play produced Off-Broadway, was staged by the Atlantic Theater Company in May and June 2008. The play featured JoBeth Williams. Circle Mirror Transformation premiered Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons in October 2009 and received the Obie Award for Best New American Play and Performance.
The Aliens, which premiered Off-Broadway at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in April 2010, was a finalist for the 2010 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and shared the 2010 Obie Award for Best New American Play with Circle Mirror Transformation.
Her adaptation of Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya premiered at the Soho Repertory Theatre in June 2012, running through August 26, and was called a "funky, fresh new production" by The New York Times reviewer. Directed by Sam Gold, the cast featured Reed Birney (as Vanya), Maria Dizzia, Georgia Engel, Peter Friedman, Michael Shannon (as Astrov), Rebecca Schull and Merritt Wever (as Sonya). Michael Shannon and Merritt Wever received the 2012 Joe A. Callaway Award for their performances.
Baker's The Antipodes premiered Off-Broadway at the Signature Theatre Company with previews on April 4, 2017; it opened officially on April 23, directed by Lila Neugebauer. The cast featured Phillip James Brannon, Josh Charles, Josh Hamilton, Danny Mastrogiorgio, Danny McCarthy, Emily Cass McDonnell, Brian Miskell, Will Patton, and Nicole Rodenburg. The engagement was extended to June 4.
John opened Off-Broadway at the Signature Theatre on July 22, 2015 (previews), directed by Sam Gold and starring Georgia Engel and Lois Smith. The play ran to September 6. This marked the fifth time that Baker and Gold worked together, starting with Circle Mirror Transformation in 2009. The play is set in a bed and breakfast in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Time ranked it at No. 8 on its list of Top Ten Plays and Musicals for 2015. It is No. 8 in The Hollywood Reporter's "Best New York Theater of 2015". The New York Times wrote that the play is a "...haunting and haunted meditation on topics she has made so singularly her own: the omnipresence of loneliness in human life, and the troubled search for love and lasting connection."
John was nominated for the 2016 Lucille Lortel Awards, Outstanding Play; Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play (Georgia Engel); Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play (Lois Smith); Outstanding Scenic Design (Mimi Lien); and Outstanding Lighting Design (Mark Barton). John received six 2016 Drama Desk Award nominations: Outstanding Play; Outstanding Actress in a Play (Georgia Engel); Outstanding Director of a Play; Outstanding Set Design for a Play (Mimi Lien); Outstanding Lighting Design for a Play (Mike Barton); and Outstanding Sound Design in a Play (Bray Poor). John won the 2016 Obie Awards for Performance for Georgia Engel and a Special Citations: Collaboration, for Annie Baker, Sam Gold and the design team.
John opened in the West End at the National Theatre in January 2018. Directed by James Macdonald, Marylouise Burke (Mertis) and June Watson (Genevieve) star. Andy Propst of Time Out ranked it the 40th best play ever written, and it made a 2019 list by The Independent.
The Shirley, Vermont Plays Festival
In October and November 2010, three Boston theatre companies produced Baker's three plays that are set in the fictional town of Shirley, Vermont: Circle Mirror Transformation, produced by the Huntington Theatre Company, Body Awareness, produced by SpeakEasy Stage Company, and The Aliens, produced by Company One.
She teaches playwriting at New York University, Barnard College, and in the MFA program at Stony Brook Southampton. She is also on the faculty of the Rita and Burton Goldberg MFA in Playwriting program of Hunter College.
In July 2017, Baker was among 60 artists who signed an open letter organized by the group Adalah-NY that called on Lincoln Center to cancel performances of a play by Israeli author and peace activist David Grossman.
Time Out New York wrote in 2008 that Baker "creates normal individuals coping with everyday issues in their small-town lives," and that her play Body Awareness "marks the arrival of a new playwright who would seem to fit the quirky bill, but aims for sincerity instead. Even though there's goofiness aplenty in her work, [she] sticks to straightforward narrative and simple dialogue. The writing isn't superficially clever, it's smart." The New Yorker said Baker "wants life onstage to be so vivid, natural, and emotionally precise that it bleeds into the audience’s visceral experience of time and space. Drawing on the immediacy of overheard conversation, she has pioneered a style of theatre made to seem as untheatrical as possible, while using the tools of the stage to focus audience attention...." The website The Daily Beast found that, "Baker’s skill is to make us work hard as an audience to make our own sense of her play[s] — the best, most enriching way to view any theatrical performance. Baker’s works are not for those who want easy, A-leads-to-B plots, and spoon-fed meanings... Baker, as all great playwrights do, is holding a mirror up to us all."
She was a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow, Creative Arts Drama & Performance Art. A new play, titled The Last of the Little Hours, written by Baker was chosen for development at the Sundance Institute's 2014 Theatre Lab in Utah to be presented in July. Annie Baker directed the play herself. The play "follows the daily life of a group of Benedictine monks."
Baker is part of the Signature Theatre's "Residency Five" program, which "guarantees each playwright three world-premiere productions of new plays over the course of a five-year residency." John is Baker's first play under this program. The Antipodes is her second play under this program, and premiered on April 18, 2017.
She has been named a 2017 MacArthur Fellow (also known as a "Genius" Grant), which has a monetary amount of $625,000 over a five-year period. She was awarded for “mining the minutiae of how we speak, act, and relate to one another and the absurdity and tragedy that result from the limitations of language.”
- Body Awareness, world premiere at Atlantic Theater Company, June 2008
- Circle Mirror Transformation, world premiere at Playwrights Horizons, October 2009
- The Aliens, world premiere at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater (Off-Broadway), April 2010
- Nocturama, reading, May 10, 2010 at Manhattan Theatre Club
- Uncle Vanya (adaptation), June 2012 at Soho Repertory Theatre
- The Flick, world premiere at Playwrights Horizons, March 2013
- John, world premiere at Signature Theatre Company, July 2015
- The Antipodes, world premiere at Signature Theatre Company, April 2017
- Heller, Nathan (February 25, 2013). "Just Saying: The anti-theatrical theatre of Annie Baker". The New Yorker. 89 (2). pp. 30–35. Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved May 2, 2015.
- McGee, Celia (May 25, 2008). "Childhood Is the Mother of the Play". The New York Times.
- "Annie Baker '09 M.F.A. Receives Pulitzer Prize for 'The Flick'". Brooklyn College. April 16, 2014.
- Kachka, Boris (December 17, 2015). "Playwright Annie Baker on the Limits of Dramatic Memoir, Her Odd Jobs in Reality TV, and Why She Finds Hollywood More Appealing Than Broadway". Vulture.com (New York magazine). Archived from the original on December 18, 2015. Retrieved December 20, 2015.
- Isherwood, Charles. "Review of 'Body Awareness'" The New York Times, June 6, 2008
- Jones, Kenneth (January 2010). "Acclaimed 'Circle Mirror Transformation' Gets Another Extension, But Must Close Jan. 31". Playbill. Archived from the original on 2014-01-09. Retrieved 2010-05-18.
- "Internet Off-Broadway Database "Listing, 'Circle Mirror Transformation'" Archived 2012-10-08 at the Wayback Machine lortel.org, retrieved May 18, 2010
- Gans, Andrew (May 17, 2010). "'Circle Mirror Transformation', 'Aliens', Metcalf and More Win OBIE Awards". Playbill. Archived from the original on May 21, 2010. Retrieved May 18, 2010.
- Hernandez, Ernio (April 22, 2010). "Baker's World Premiere, Vermont-Set 'The Aliens' Opens Off-Broadway". Playbill. Archived from the original on October 15, 2012. Retrieved May 18, 2010.
- Isherwood, Charles. "Theater Review. 'Uncle Vanya,' Adapted by Annie Baker, at Soho Rep" The New York Times, June 18, 2012
- Hetrick, Adam (June 28, 2012). "Soho Rep Extends Annie Baker Adaptation of 'Uncle Vanya' Into August". Playbill.
- Gans, Andrew (December 6, 2012). "Michael Shannon and Merritt Wever Are Recipients of Actors' Equity Joe A. Callaway Award". Playbill.
- Gans, Andrew. " 'Detroit', 'Grimly Handsome', Eisa Davis, John Rando, Shuler Hensley and More Are Obie Winners" Archived 2013-06-14 at the Wayback Machine playbill.com, May 20, 2013
- Gans, Andrew (April 14, 2014). "Annie Bakers 'The Flick' Wins 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama". Playbill. Archived from the original on January 5, 2016. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
- Clement, Olivia. "Signature Announces World Premieres By Annie Baker, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and Will Eno" Playbill, April 12, 2016
- Clement, Olivia. " 'The Good Wife' ’s Josh Charles Tapped for Annie Baker World Premiere" Playbill, February 28, 2017
- Clement, Olivia. "World Premiere of Annie Baker’s 'The Antipodes' Opens Off-Broadway" Playbill, April 23, 2017
- Clement, Olivia (June 18, 2015). "Annie Baker and Sam Gold Reunite for World Premiere of 'John'". Playbill.
- Soloski, Alexis. "Annie Baker and Sam Gold: A Writer and Director Going Steady on the Job" The New York Times, July 15, 2015
- Zoglin, Richard. "Top 10 Plays & Musicals" Time, December 1, 2015
- Rooney, David (December 17, 2015). "David Rooney's Best New York Theater of 2015". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on December 19, 2015. Retrieved December 20, 2015.
- Isherwood, Charles. "Review: In 'John,' Pondering Life’s Mysteries From Gettysburg" The New York Times, August 11, 2015
- "2016 Lucile Lortel Award Nominations Announced", Playbill, March 30, 2016
- Viagas, Robert. "'She Loves Me' Leads Drama Desk Nominations", Playbill, April 28, 2016
- Gans, Andrew. "Winners Announced for 61st Annual Obie Awards" Playbill, May 23, 2016
- Clapp, Susannah. "The week in theatre: 'John'; 'Lady Windermere’s Fan' – review" The Guardian, January 28, 2018
- "50 Best Plays of All Time: Comedies, Tragedies and Dramas Ranked". Time Out New York. Retrieved 2020-04-16.
- "The 40 best plays to read before you die". The Independent. 2019-08-18. Retrieved 2020-04-16.
- Dunn, Thom. "Shirley, Vt. Plays" shirleyvtplays.com, August 9, 2010, accessed April 19, 2014
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- "Body Awareness, 2010" speakeasystage.com, accessed October 13, 2015
- "Annie Baker Bio" Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, accessed April 20, 2014
- "MFA in Playwriting" hunter.cuny.edu, accessed October 9, 2015
- "Artists Protest Lincoln Center Play Backed by Israel". The New York Times. July 5, 2017. "The New York Times". Cite journal requires
- "Artists protest Israeli-gov't sponsored play in New York".
- Cooper, Amanda (May 28, 2008). "Let's Get Physical". Time Out New York.
- Teeman, Tim (August 13, 2015). "How Annie Baker's Disturbing Genius Is Shaking Up Theater". The Daily Beast.
- Jones, Kenneth (April 24, 2008). "Sundance's 2008 Theatre Lab Picks Treem, Thomas, Greenidge, Kron, Baker, LeFranc, Picoult". Playbill. Retrieved October 14, 2016.
- United States Artists Official Website
- Purcell, Carey. "Annie Baker and Rajiv Joseph Honored With Steinberg Playwright "Mimi" Awards" Playbill, October 2, 2013
- "Fellows, 2014" Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, accessed April 20, 2014
- Hetrick, Adam (April 24, 2014). "Pulitzer Winners Annie Baker and Doug Wright Tapped for Sundance Theatre Lab". Playbill. Archived from the original on 2014-04-26.
- "The New York Public Library's Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers Announces 2015-2016 Fellows" nypl.org, April 30, 2015
- "MacDowell Colony" Archived 2015-10-23 at the Wayback Machine macdowellcolony.org, Summer 2015, Vol. 44, No. 1, Summer 2015, p. 5
- "The MacDowell Colony" issuu.com, themacdowellcolony, Winter 2009, p. 16
- "Residency Five" Archived 2015-12-22 at the Wayback Machine signaturetheatre.org, accessed October 12, 2015
- Jones, Kenneth (January 16, 2013). "Signature's Resident Playwrights Group Welcomes Dramatists Martha Clarke and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins". Playbill.
- "Signature Theatre - The Antipodes at Signature Theatre". www.signaturetheatre.org. Retrieved 2017-03-21.
- Dwyer, Colin. "Here Are The 2017 MacArthur 'Genius' Grant Winners" npr.org, October 11, 2017
- Vankin, Deborah. "MacArthur fellows for 2017: a tragicomic novelist, an 'Afropolitan' painter and more" Los Angeles Times, October 10, 2017
- Jones, Kenneth (April 15, 2010). "Nellie Bly Musical Will Sing in MTC Reading Series; Schreck, Mensch, Baker and More Get Voice". Playbill. Retrieved May 14, 2016.
- The Antipodes signaturetheatre.org, accessed August 30, 2016
- The Antipodes lortel.org, retrieved October 11, 2017