Congratulations to Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, one of this year’s MacArthur Fellows. Jacobs-Jenkins was a Lila Acheson Wallace Playwrights program fellow from 2012 to 2014 and joined the Juilliard playwriting faculty last year. He’s described his plays Neighbors, Octoroon, and Appropriate as “not technically a trilogy [though] they do feel of a piece and a period.” The three, he added, “explore the historical relationship between American theatrical forms and the question of blackness in society.” Juilliard fourth-years will present Appropriate in December.
In its citation, the committee that selected this year’s 23 MacArthur Fellows wrote, “Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is a playwright drawing from a range of contemporary and historical theatrical genres to engage frankly with complicated issues around identity, family, class, and race. 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. Although the provocation of his audience is purposeful, Jacobs-Jenkins’s creation of unsettling, shocking, often confrontational moments is not gratuitous; these elements are of a piece with the world he has established on stage and in the service of the story he is telling.”
Find more about Jacobs-Jenkins and the MacArthur Fellow (informally known as the MacArthur genius grants) program here.