Annie Baker

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Annie Baker
9.21.14AnnieBakerByLuigiNovi1.jpg
Baker at the 2014
Brooklyn Book Festival
Born April 1981 (age 34)
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Occupation Playwright
Nationality American
Notable works Body Awareness (2008)
Circle Mirror Transformation (2009)
The Aliens (2010)
The Flick (2013)

Annie Baker (born April 1981)[1] 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.

Early life[edit]

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.[1] Her brother is Benjamin Baker Nugent, author of American Nerd: The Story of My People.[2] Baker graduated from the Department of Dramatic Writing at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.[2] She earned her Master of Fine Arts degree in playwriting from Brooklyn College in 2009.[3] One of her early jobs was as a guest-wrangler helping to oversee contestants on the reality-television program The Bachelor.[4]

Career[edit]

Plays[edit]

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.[5] Circle Mirror Transformation premiered Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons[6][7] in October 2009 and received the Obie Award[8] 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.[8][9]

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.[10] 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).[11] Michael Shannon and Merritt Wever received the 2012 Joe A. Callaway Award for their performances.[12]

The Flick premiered at Playwrights Horizons in March 2013, and received the Obie Award for Playwriting in 2013.[13] The Flick won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.[14]

Baker's new play, The Antipodes, will premiere at the Signature Theatre Company in April 2017, to be directed by Lila Neugebauer.[15]

John[edit]

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.[16] This marked the fifth time that Baker and Gold worked together, starting with Circle Mirror Transformation in 2009.[17] 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.[18] It is No. 8 in The Hollywood Reporter's "Best New York Theater of 2015".[19]

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).[20] 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).[21] 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.[22]

The Shirley, Vermont Plays Festival[edit]

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.[23][24][25]

Teaching[edit]

She teaches playwriting at New York University, Barnard College,[26] and in the MFA program at SUNY Stony Brook Southampton. She is also on the faculty of the Rita and Burton Goldberg MFA in Playwriting program of Hunter College.[27]

Style[edit]

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."[28] 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...."[1] 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."[29]

Honors[edit]

Baker was one of seven playwrights selected to participate in the 2008 Sundance Institute Theatre Lab.[30] In 2011 she was named a Fellow of United States Artists.[31] In 2013 she received The Steinberg Playwright Award, which included a $50,000 prize.[32]

She is a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow, Creative Arts Drama & Performance Art.[33] 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."[34]

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.[35]

She is a MacDowell Colony Fellow taking residence in 2009 and 2014.[36][37]

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.[38][39]

Works[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c 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 20, 2015. Retrieved May 2, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b McGee, Celia (May 25, 2008). "Childhood Is the Mother of the Play". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ "Annie Baker '09 M.F.A. Receives Pulitzer Prize for 'The Flick'". Brooklyn College. April 16, 2014. 
  4. ^ 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 20, 2015. Retrieved December 20, 2015. 
  5. ^ Isherwood, Charles. "Review of 'Body Awareness'" New York Times, June 6, 2008
  6. ^ Jones, Kenneth (January 2010). "Acclaimed 'Circle Mirror Transformation' Gets Another Extension, But Must Close Jan. 31". Playbill. 
  7. ^ "Internet Off-Broadway Database "Listing, 'Circle Mirror Transformation'" lortel.org, retrieved May 18, 2010
  8. ^ a b Gans, Andrew (May 17, 2010). "'Circle Mirror Transformation', 'Aliens', Metcalf and More Win OBIE Awards". Playbill. 
  9. ^ Hernandez, Ernio (April 22, 2010). "Baker's World Premiere, Vermont-Set 'The Aliens' Opens Off-Broadway". Playbill. 
  10. ^ Isherwood, Charles. "Theater Review. 'Uncle Vanya,' Adapted by Annie Baker, at Soho Rep" The New York Times, June 18, 2012
  11. ^ Hetrick, Adam (June 28, 2012). "Soho Rep Extends Annie Baker Adaptation of 'Uncle Vanya' Into August". Playbill. 
  12. ^ Gans, Andrew (December 6, 2012). "Michael Shannon and Merritt Wever Are Recipients of Actors' Equity Joe A. Callaway Award". Playbill. 
  13. ^ Gans, Andrew. " 'Detroit', 'Grimly Handsome', Eisa Davis, John Rando, Shuler Hensley and More Are Obie Winners" playbill.com, May 20, 2013
  14. ^ Gans, Andrew (April 14, 2014). "Annie Bakers 'The Flick' Wins 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama". Playbill. Archived from the original on December 20, 2015. 
  15. ^ Clement, Olivia. "Signature Announces World Premieres By Annie Baker, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and Will Eno" Playbill, April 12, 2016
  16. ^ Clement, Olivia (June 18, 2015). "Annie Baker and Sam Gold Reunite for World Premiere of 'John'". Playbill. 
  17. ^ Soloski, Alexis. "Annie Baker and Sam Gold: A Writer and Director Going Steady on the Job" The New York Times, July 15, 2015
  18. ^ Zoglin, Richard. "Top 10 Plays & Musicals" Time, December 1, 2015
  19. ^ Rooney, David (December 17, 2015). "David Rooney's Best New York Theater of 2015". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on December 20, 2015. Retrieved December 20, 2015. 
  20. ^ "2016 Lucile Lortel Award Nominations Announced", Playbill, March 30, 2016
  21. ^ Viagas, Robert. "'She Loves Me' Leads Drama Desk Nominations", Playbill, April 28, 2016
  22. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Winners Announced for 61st Annual Obie Awards" Playbill, May 23, 2016
  23. ^ Dunn, Thom. "Shirley, Vt. Plays" shirleyvtplays.com, August 9, 2010, accessed April 19, 2014
  24. ^ "Presenting an exciting collaborative festival of Annie Baker’s 'The Shirley, VT Plays'" speakeasystage.com, accessed April 19, 2014[dead link]
  25. ^ "Body Awareness, 2010" speakeasystage.com, accessed October 13, 2015
  26. ^ "Annie Baker Bio" Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, accessed April 20, 2014
  27. ^ "MFA in Playwriting" hunter.cuny.edu, accessed October 9, 2015
  28. ^ Cooper, Amanda (May 28, 2008). "Let's Get Physical". Time Out New York. 
  29. ^ Teeman, Tim (August 13, 2015). "How Annie Baker's Disturbing Genius Is Shaking Up Theater". The Daily Beast. 
  30. ^ "2008 Sundance Institute Theatre Lab fellows". Playbill. 
  31. ^ United States Artists Official Website
  32. ^ Purcell, Carey. "Annie Baker and Rajiv Joseph Honored With Steinberg Playwright "Mimi" Awards" playbill.com, October 2, 2013
  33. ^ "Fellows, 2014" Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, accessed April 20, 2014
  34. ^ Hetrick, Adam (April 24, 2014). "Pulitzer Winners Annie Baker and Doug Wright Tapped for Sundance Theatre Lab". Playbill. 
  35. ^ "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
  36. ^ "MacDowell Colony" macdowellcolony.org, Summer 2015, Vol. 44, No. 1, Summer 2015, p. 5
  37. ^ "The MacDowell Colony" issuu.com, themacdowellcolony, Winter 2009, p. 16
  38. ^ "Residency Five" signaturetheatre.org, accessed October 12, 2015
  39. ^ Jones, Kenneth (January 16, 2013). "Signature's Resident Playwrights Group Welcomes Dramatists Martha Clarke and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins". Playbill. 
  40. ^ 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. 

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