Baker at the 2014
Brooklyn Book Festival
|Born||1981 (age 33–34)
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
|Notable works||The Flick (2013)|
Annie Baker (born 1981) is a American playwright and teacher. She 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.
Baker was born in 1981, and grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts. She graduated from the Department of Dramatic Writing at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. She earned her MFA in the playwriting program from Brooklyn College in 2009.
In a 2013 New Yorker magazine article on Baker, Nathan Heller described her works: "Annie Baker, a thirty-one-year-old playwright, is one answer to this question; she 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... A lot of critics, trying to pinpoint Baker’s appealing blend of naturalness and precision, have called her a “realist” or a “naturalist.” She thinks neither label works."
In reviewing John, Tim Teeman, the reviewer for The Daily Beast compared that play and The Flick: "The linking factor is the genius—truly, no exaggeration—behind their crafting and execution. On the outside these are small lives, but only on the outside. As you follow the theater workers in 'The Flick', and in 'John' the young couple and the daffy-seeming innkeeper, you are enveloped in the lives and minds of absorbing, complicated characters.... The ingenuity of Baker’s work is not just in her writing but also its staging—both plays are directed by Sam Gold and include clever sleights of directorial hand that demand the audience’s greater attention than simply focusing on Baker’s words.... Baker’s skill is to make us work hard as an audience to make our own sense of her play—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."
Body Awareness was staged Off-Broadway by the Atlantic Theater Company in May and June 2008. The play featured JoBeth Williams and was nominated for a Drama Desk Award and an Outer Critics Circle Award.
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 play was directed by Sam Gold.
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.
The Flick premiered at Playwrights Horizons in March 2013. The New York Times reviewer wrote: "Ms. Baker, one of the freshest and most talented dramatists to emerge Off-Broadway in the past decade, writes with tenderness and keen insight..." The play received the Obie Award for Playwriting in 2013. The Flick won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Her play John opened Off-Broadway at the Signature Theatre on July 22, 2015 (previews), directed by Sam Gold. The play ran to September 6. The cast featured Lois Smith and Georgia Engel. This is the fifth time that Baker and Gold have worked together, starting with Circle Mirror Transformation in 2009. The play is set in a Bed and breakfast in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The Hollywood Reporter reviewer described the play: "dealing with love and relationships and sadness...also about the difference between our public selves and our private ones....John is recognizably a Baker play, her characters trying to figure out how to exist with each other, with wise insights inside mundane observations, comfortable with long pauses and a slow pace (and a sizable running time)."
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 SUNY Stony Brook Southampton. She is also on the faculty of the Rita and Burton Goldberg MFA in Playwriting program of Hunter College.
Baker was one of seven playwrights selected to participate in the 2008 Sundance Institute Theatre Lab. In 2011 she was named a Fellow of United States Artists. In 2013 she received The Steinberg Playwright Award, which included a $50,000 prize.
She is 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."
She is a New York Public Library 2015 Cullman Center Fellow, which runs from September 2015 through May 2016; she will work on a play about 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.
- 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
- Gans, Andrew. "Annie Bakers 'The Flick' Wins 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama" Playbill, April 14, 2014
- McGee, Celia. "Profile" New York Times, May 25, 2008
- "Annie Baker ’09 M.F.A. Receives Pulitzer Prize for 'The Flick'" brooklyn.cuny.edu, April 16, 2014
- Heller, Nathan. "Just Saying. The anti-theatrical theatre of Annie Baker" The New Yorker, February 25, 2013
- Teeman, Tim. "How Annie Baker’s Disturbing Genius Is Shaking Up Theater" thedailybeast.com, August 13, 2015
- Isherwood, Charles. "Review of 'Body Awareness'" New York Times, June 6, 2008
- Cote, David. "Review of 'Body Awareness' " TimeOut New York, May 2008
- Jones, Kenneth. "Acclaimed 'Circle Mirror Transformation' Gets Another Extension, But Must Close Jan. 31" playbill.com, January 2010
- "Internet Off-Broadway Database "Listing, 'Circle Mirror Transformation'" lortel.org, retrieved May 18, 2010
- Gans, Andrew." 'Circle Mirror Transformation', 'Aliens', Metcalf and More Win OBIE Awards" playbill.com, May 17, 2010
- Jones, Kenneth. "Casting Complete for Goldfarb and Baker Plays at Playwrights Horizons", playbill.com, June 2009
- Hernandez, Ernio. "Baker's World Premiere, Vermont-Set 'The Aliens' Opens Off-Broadway" playbill.com, April 22, 2010
- Isherwood, Charles. "Theater Review. 'Uncle Vanya,' Adapted by Annie Baker, at Soho Rep" The New York Times, June 18, 2012
- Hetrick, Adam "Soho Rep Extends Annie Baker Adaptation of 'Uncle Vanya' Into August" Playbill, June 28, 2012
- Gans, Andrew. "Michael Shannon and Merritt Wever Are Recipients of Actors' Equity Joe A. Callaway Award" Playbill, December 6, 2012
- Isherwood, Charles. "Theater review. 'The Flick,' by Annie Baker, at Playwrights Horizons" The New York Times, March 12, 2013
- Gans, Andrew. " 'Detroit', 'Grimly Handsome', Eisa Davis, John Rando, Shuler Hensley and More Are Obie Winners" playbill.com, May 20, 2013
- Clement, Olivia. "Annie Baker and Sam Gold Reunite for World Premiere of 'John' " playbill.com, June 18, 2015
- Clement, Olivia. "World Premiere of New Annie Baker and Sam Gold Collaboration, 'John', Begins Tonight" playbill.com, July 22, 2015
- Soloski, Alexis. "Annie Baker and Sam Gold: A Writer and Director Going Steady on the Job" The New York Times, July 15, 2015
- Oxfeld, Jesse. "'John': Theater Review" Hollywood Reporter", August 11, 2015
- Dunn, Thom. "Shirley, Vt. Plays" shirleyvtplays.com, August 9, 2010, accessed April 19, 2014
- "Presenting an exciting collaborative festival of Annie Baker’s 'The Shirley, VT Plays'" speakeasystage.com, accessed April 19, 2014[dead link]
- "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
- "2008 Sundance Institute Theatre Lab fellows" Playbill.com
- United States Artists Official Website
- Purcell, Carey. "Annie Baker and Rajiv Joseph Honored With Steinberg Playwright "Mimi" Awards" playbill.com, October 2, 2013
- "Fellows, 2014" Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, accessed April 20, 2014
- Hetrick, Adam. "Pulitzer Winners Annie Baker and Doug Wright Tapped for Sundance Theatre Lab" Playbill, April 24, 2014
- "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
- "Residency Five" signaturetheatre.org, accessed October 12, 2015
- Jones, Kenneth. "Signature's Resident Playwrights Group Welcomes Dramatists Martha Clarke and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins" Playbill, January 16, 2013
- Jones, Kenneth."Nellie Bly Musical Will Sing in MTC Reading Series; Schreck, Mensch, Baker and More Get Voice" playbill.com, April 15, 2010
- Heller, Nathan (February 25, 2013). "Just saying : the anti-theatrical theatre of Annie Baker". Onward and Upward with the Arts. The New Yorker 89 (2): 30–35. Retrieved 2015-05-02.
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