Branden Jacobs-Jenkins Presented With Sundance Tennessee Williams Award April 8 in NYC

By Adam Hetrick
April 8, 2013

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, whose plays include Neighbors and The Octoroon, receives the first-ever Sundance Theatre Institute Tennessee Williams Award, which is presented to the playwright by Academy Award-winning actress Sally Field 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."

The honor is presented during an evening benefit at the Stephan Weiss Studio in Greenwich Village.

During the benefit, Jacobs-Jenkins and Tony-winning actress Cherry Jones (The Glass Menagerie) are set to perform selections from the playwright's new work Appropriate, which recently premiered at the Humana Festival in March. The evening also features selections from the new Sundance-nurtured musical Fun Home by Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori.

The evening will include performances by Maggie Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Michael Laurence, Karen Mason, David Hyde Pierce, Lucas Steele, and cast members from the Broadway musical Cinderella.

"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."

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 playwright's name for the honor. Williams' body of work 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.