Branden Jacobs-Jenkins Wins Sundance's Inaugural Tennessee Williams Award

By Adam Hetrick
February 27, 2013

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, whose plays include Neighbors and The Octoroon, has been named the inaugural recipient of the Sundance Theatre Institute's Tennessee Williams Award, which will be presented April 8 in New York City.



The $10,000 grant was created to support new work for the stage, recognizing "an emerging playwright who embodies visionary storytelling and is developing a project that engages audiences in a fresh and exciting way."

Jacobs-Jenkins will be presented with the honor by Academy Award-winning actress Sally Field during an April 8 Sundance benefit at the Stephan Weiss Studio in Greenwich Village.

"Branden's burgeoning body of work already heralds a dynamic career; his audacity and poetic language are reminiscent of many of the qualities that define Mr. Williams' writing," said Sundance Institute Theatre Program artistic director Philip Himberg in a statement. "Following his wildly entertaining and dangerous Neighbors, his most recent play, Appropriate, reveals him to be an author willing to take substantial risk, and to fearlessly explore familial rage and personal emancipation. We look forward to his future output which will undoubtedly continue to reflect a singular sensibility, with humor and passion."

During the benefit, Jacobs-Jenkins and Tony-winning actress Cherry Jones (The Glass Menagerie) will perform selections from the playwrights' new work Appropriate, which will premiere at the Humana Festival in March. The evening will also feature selections from the new Sundance-nurtured musical Fun Home by Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori, featuring performances by Maggie Gyllenhaal, Judy Kuhn, David Hyde Pierce and more.

Jacobs-Jenkins work has been seen at The Public Theater, PS122, Soho Rep, The Matrix Theatre in Los Angeles, Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis, CompanyOne in Boston, Theater Bielefeld in Bielefeld, Germany and the National Theatre in London. He is currently working on commissions from Lincoln Center Theater/LCT3 and the Yale Repertory Theatre. He is an alum of the 2012 Sundance Institute Playwrights Retreat at Ucross Foundation and the 2012 Sundance Institute Theatre Lab at the Sundance Resort.

The University of the South, the beneficiary of the Williams' estate, granted Sundance permission to use the playwrights' name for the honor. Williams' body of work in includes A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Summer and Smoke and The Glass Menagerie, among others.

For information on benefit event tickets and tables or sponsorship opportunities, contact celebrate@sundance.org. Individual tickets are $500. Visit Sundance.org.