March 28, 2023

Two MacArthur Fellows Join UT Playwriting Faculty


The University of Texas has added two MacArthur Fellows to its playwriting faculty

Annie Baker and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins with join UT’s College of Fine Arts Department of Theatre and Dance in fall 2019.

“Annie and Branden are reinventing what theatre can be and say,” KJ Sanchez, head of the school’s playwriting and directing program, said in a statement. “Their work brings a younger audience to the theatre, and they’re exactly the right artists for talking about our current culture, race relations, generational questions, and what it means to be human today.”

Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for her play “The Flick,” Baker was named a 2017 MacArthur fellow. Her plays concern everyday people in ordinary circumstances who are nevertheless infused with heightened sense of the surreal.

Jacobs-Jenkins is a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and a 2016 MacArthur fellow. His work draws inspiration from a variety of genres to examine divisive issues surrounding identity, race, class, and family. His plays include “Everybody,” “An Octoroon,” and “Appropriate.”

Mary Wiseman and Austin Smith in “An Octoroon” at Brooklyn’s Polonsky Shakespeare Center. Credit: Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Baker and Jacobs-Jenkins have worked together before. Previously, the two served as co-artistic directors for the Goldberg MFA playwriting program at Hunter College of the City University of New York.

Baker received a B.F.A. from New York University and an M.F.A. from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. Her plays have been produced at the Soho Repertory, Signature Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, Royal Court, National Theatre, numerous regional theaters across the United States and in more than a dozen countries worldwide.

Jacobs-Jenkins received a B.A. from Princeton University and an M.A. from New York University, and he is a graduate of the Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program at Juilliard. His plays have been performed at such venues as Lincoln Center Theatre/LCT3, Soho Rep, the Public Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, Actors Theater of Louisville, and Center Theatre Group, among many other

Among UT’s current playwriting faculty are Sanchez, Steven Dietz, Kirk Lynn, Liz Engelman, Patrick Shaw, and Alexandra Bassiakou Shaw.

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