Branden Jacobs-Jenkins

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Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Born (1984-12-29) December 29, 1984 (age 34)
Washington, DC
Alma materPrinceton University (BA)
New York University (MA)
Juilliard School (GrDip)
Notable awardsObie Award
Steinberg Playwright Award

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is an American playwright. He won the 2014 Obie Award for Best New American Play, for his plays Appropriate and An Octoroon. His plays Gloria and Everybody were finalists for the 2016 and 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Drama respectively. He was named a MacArthur Fellow for 2016.

Early life[edit]

Jacobs-Jenkins was born in Washington, DC. His father, Benjamin Jenkins, is a retired dentist and his mother, Patricia Jacobs, is a business consultant. He graduated from Princeton University in 2006, with a major in anthropology, and earned a master's degree in performance studies from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in 2007. He has taught playwriting at the Tisch School and also at Princeton.[1] He graduated from the Lila Acheson Wallace Playwrights Program at The Juilliard School.[2]

He worked at the New Yorker Magazine where he edited and wrote reviews.[3]


He became a member of the Signature Theatre Residency Five program in 2013. The program "guarantees three full productions of new work."[4]

Neighbors premiered Off-Broadway at the Public Theater/Public LAB in February - March 2010,[5][6] and was then presented at the Matrix Theatre Company, Los Angeles in August 2010, directed by Nataki Garrett. The play was produced by the Mixed Blood Theater, Minneapolis, Minnesota in September to October 2011, also directed by Nataki Garrett.[7] It premiered in Boston in 2011 with Company One.

He received the 2014 Obie Award for Best New American Play for his plays Appropriate and An Octoroon.[1][8]

An Octoroon is an adaptation of The Octoroon by Dion Boucicault. It ran Off-Off-Broadway at the Soho Rep in April 2014 to June 2014 and then at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center, Brooklyn, New York, from February 2015 to March 29, 2015.[9][10] Artists Repertory Theatre, Portland, Oregon, staged An Octoroon from September 3 to October 1, 2017.[11]

Appropriate was produced Off-Broadway by the Signature Theatre, at the Pershing Square Signature Center, from March 16, 2014 to April 13, 2014. The play was nominated for the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play, and also won 2014 Obie Awards for Direction (Liesl Tommy) and Performance (Johanna Day).[12][13]

War premiered at the Yale Repertory Theatre, New Haven, in December 2014, as a commission from the Yale Rep. Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz, the cast featured Tonya Pinkins, Philippe Bowgen, Rachael Holmes, Greg Keller and Trezana Beverley.[14] War opened at the Lincoln Center LCT3 series Off-Broadway on May 21, 2016 in previews, officially on June 6, directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz, and ran through July 3.[15][16][17] He wrote War while on a Fulbright Fellowship in Germany.[1][18]

His play Everybody was produced Off-Broadway by the Signature Theatre, and opened on January 31, 2017 in previews, officially on February 21. The play is "a modern riff on one of the oldest plays in the English language." Everbody is suggested by the 15th-century morality play Everyman.[19] Directed by Lila Neugebauer, the cast includes Jocelyn Bioh, Brooke Bloom, Michael Braun, Marylouise Burke, Louis Cancelmi, Lilyana Tiare Cornell, David Patrick Kelly, Lakisha Michelle May and Chris Perfetti. The role of Everybody is chosen by lottery.[20][19][21]Jacobs-Jenkins explained the play: "The that every night there’ll be a different Everyman, chosen by lottery, so the cast will shift a lot. This may be an insane idea. We’re assuming all these lovely actors are going to memorize the entire script.”[22] Everybody is a finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.[23]

His work has been seen at The Public Theater, Signature Theater, PS122, Soho Rep, Yale Repertory Theatre, Actors Theater of Louisville, The Matrix Theatre in Los Angeles, Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis, the Wilma Theater (Philadelphia), CompanyOne and SpeakEasy Stage in Boston, Theater Bielefeld in Bielefeld, Germany, the National Theatre in London, and the HighTide Festival in the UK.[24]

Jacobs-Jenkins currently serves on the board of Soho Rep in New York City.[25]


Gloria was produced Off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre from June 15, 2015 to July 18, 2015 and was directed by Evan Cabnet.[26] The play received a workshop at the Vineyard Theatre in January 2013.[27] The play concerns an "ambitious group of editorial assistants at a notorious Manhattan magazine."[28] Gloria was nominated for the 2016 Lucille Lortel Award, Outstanding Play.[29] Gloria was a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.[30] The Pulitzer committee wrote: "A play of wit and irony that deftly transports the audience from satire to thriller and back again."[31] Gloria received two nominations for the Outer Critics Circle Award: Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play; and Outstanding Director of a Play.[32] The play was nominated for the 2016 Drama League Award for Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Play.[33]

A production was staged at London's Hampstead Theatre in June and July 2017.[34]


He received the Helen Merrill Award in Playwrighting, Emerging Playwright category, in 2011.[35]

He received the Paula Vogel Award from the Vineyard Theatre in 2011. The award is "presented annually to an emerging writer of exceptional promise." He was in residence at the Vineyard Theatre in 2011 because of the award.[27][36]

He was given the Steinberg Playwrights Award in 2015. Paige Evans, the artistic director of LCT3 said that his "plays are fiercely intelligent, ambitious, and boldly theatrical.... They challenge, entertain, and unsettle audiences, making us laugh, gasp, and think deeply about race, class, personal ambition, and other complex issues.”[37]

He received the Windham–Campbell Literature Prize (Drama) at Yale University in 2016; the prize includes a cash amount of $150,000.[38][39] He received the 2016 PEN/Laura Pels Award, Emerging American Playwright.[40][41] In 2016, he also received a Creative Capital award with collaborating artist Carmelita Tropicana.[42]

He was named a MacArthur Fellow, Class of 2016. The fellowship comes with a monetary award of $625,000, made in installments over five years.[43] The foundation noted, in part: "Many of Jacobs-Jenkins’s plays use a historical lens to satirize and comment on modern culture, particularly the ways in which race and class are negotiated in both private and public settings."[44]

In 2018, Jacobs-Jenkins was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play Everybody.[45]


  • Neighbors (Off-Broadway, 2010)
  • War (Yale Repertory Theatre, 2014)
  • Appropriate (Off-Broadway, 2014)
  • An Octoroon (Off-Off Broadway, 2014)
  • Gloria (Off-Broadway, 2015)
  • Everybody (Off-Broadway, 2017)


  1. ^ a b c Witchel, Alex (November 23, 2014). "Branden Jacobs-Jenkins Is, and Is Not, Writing About Race". New York Times Magazine. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  2. ^ "Branden Jacobs-Jenkins" Signature, accessed November 7, 2016
  3. ^ Gray, Margaret. "Spotlight shines brighter on 'Appropriate' playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins" Los Angeles Times, September 24, 2015
  4. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "Signature's Resident Playwrights Group Welcomes Dramatists Martha Clarke and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins" Playbill, January 16, 2013
  5. ^ Healy, Patrick. "New Play Puts an Old Face on Race" The New York Times, February 2, 2010
  6. ^ Stasio, Marilyn. "New Play Puts an Old Face on Race" Variety, March 7, 2010
  7. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' 'Neighbors' Will Open Mixed Blood Season" Playbill, August 1, 2011
  8. ^ Gans, Andrew. "59th Annual Obie Award Winners Announced; Sydney Lucas Is Youngest Winner in Obie History" Playbill, May 19, 2014
  9. ^ Brantley, Ben. "Review: ‘An Octoroon,’ a Branden Jacobs-Jenkins Comedy About Race" The New York Times, February 27, 2015
  10. ^ Magaril, Jon. "Review. An Octoroon'", accessed March 1, 2016
  11. ^ "2017/18 Season"
  12. ^ "Branden Jacobs-Jenkins". Princeton University. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  13. ^ Appropriate, accessed March 1, 2016
  14. ^ Brantley, Ben. "'War,' Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s New Play The New York Times, December 8, 2014
  15. ^ Clement, Olivia. "LCT Off-Broadway Season to Include Marco Ramirez' The Royale Plus Greg Pierce and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins Plays" Playbill, September 21, 2015
  16. ^ Clement, Olivia. "Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ War Begins Tonight" Playbill, May 21, 2016
  17. ^ Stasio, Marilyn. "Off Broadway Review: ‘War’ by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins" Variety, June 6, 2016
  18. ^ Sokol, Fred. "Regional Reviews. War. Yale Repertory Theatre", December 1, 2014, accessed March 2, 2016
  19. ^ a b Sullivan, Lindsay. "Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' 'Everybody' Extends Before Opening Night Off-Broadway", February 13, 2017
  20. ^ Clement, Olivia. "Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ 'Everybody' Begins Jan. 31" Playbill, January 31, 2017
  21. ^ " Everybody Off-Broadway Production", retrieved February 14, 2017
  22. ^ Haun, Harry. "Why You Need to Know the Name Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins" Playbill, February 27, 2017
  23. ^ McPhee, Ryan. "Martyna Majok’s 'Cost of Living' Wins 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Drama" Playbill, April 16, 2018
  24. ^ "Branden Jacobs-Jenkins". Signature Theater. Archived from the original on 18 February 2015. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  25. ^ "Staff & Board | Soho Rep". Retrieved 2017-03-21.
  26. ^ Gloria, accessed March 1, 2016
  27. ^ a b Jones, Kenneth. "Vineyard Plans New-Play Readings and "Reunion" Presentations of Hits The Dying Gaul, Pterodactyls and More" Playbill, September 14, 2012.
  28. ^ Gloria, accessed April 18, 2016
  29. ^ "2016 Lucile Lortel Award Nominations Announced" Playbill, March 30, 2016
  30. ^ Viagas, Robert. "'Hamilton' Wins 2016 Pulitzer Prize; Miranda Reacts" Playbill, April 18, 2016
  31. ^ "Winners", accessed April 18, 2016
  32. ^ Viagas, Roibert. 2016 Outer Critics Circle Nominees Announced" Playbill, April 19, 2016
  33. ^ Gans, Andrew. "2016 Drama League Awards Nominations Announced" Playbill, April 20, 2016
  34. ^ Franklin, Marc J. "First Look at Hampstead Theatre's Production of 'Gloria'" Playbill, June 19, 2017
  35. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Playwrights Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Dorothy Fortenberry, Dan LeFranc, Radha Blank and Lisa Kron are the recipients of the 2011 Helen Merrill Awards in Playwrighting" Playbill, September 28, 2011.
  36. ^ "Branden Jacobs-Jenkins Wins 4th Annual Paula Vogel Playwriting Award", accessed March 2, 2016.
  37. ^ "Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Dominique Morisseau Win 2015 Steinberg Playwright Awards" September 22, 2015.
  38. ^ Clement, Olivia. "Branden Jacobs-Jenkins Named Windham-Campbell Prize Winner" Playbill, March 1, 2016
  39. ^ "Branden Jacobs-Jenkins". Windham–Campbell Literature Prize. February 29, 2016. Retrieved March 2, 2016.
  40. ^ Maggie Galehouse (March 1, 2016). "PEN Literary Award winners announced". Chron. Retrieved March 2, 2016.
  41. ^ "2016 PEN Literary Award Winners". PEN. March 1, 2016. Retrieved March 2, 2016.
  42. ^ "Creative Capital - Investing in Artists who Shape the Future". Retrieved 2016-11-14.
  43. ^ "Fellows Class of 2016", accessed September 22, 2016.
  44. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins Among MacArthur “Genius” Grant Winners" Playbill, September 22, 2016.
  45. ^ "Pulitzer Prize Winners" The New York Times, April 16, 2018

External links[edit]