Dramaturg, and Playwright, Branden Jacobs Jenkins, a DC native and 2002 graduate of St. John's College High School and 1998 graduate of D.C.'s Roots Activity Learning Center was awarded Sundance Institute's inaugural Tennessee Williams' award on August 8 by actress Sally Fields, at an evening awards event held at New York City's famous Stephen Weiss Studio in Greenwich Village. The event was enhanced by a performance of scenes from Branden's latest play, APPROPRIATE, by reknown performers Maggie Gyllenhaal,Cheryl Jones, and Michael Laurence.
Branden's work has been seen at The Public Theater; P.S. 122; Soho Rep; The Matrix Theater, Los Angeles; Mixed Blood Theater, Minneapolis; Company One, Boston; Theater Bielefeld, Germany; and The National Theater in London. His honors include a Princess Grace Award, the Dorothy Stresin Playwrighting Fellowship, the Paula Vogel Award. and a fellowship in playwrighting from the New York Foundation for the Arts. He holds a bachelor's degree from Princeton University and a M.A. in performance studies from NYU.
Branden attributes his initial inspiration to his grandmother, the late Helen Jacobs of Camden, Arkansas, who exposed him to drama and playwriting at her church in early 1990's and instilled in him a love of reading and writing. His interests were cultivated by caring and interested teachers,the late Baba Kamau Robinson and Mr. Manessa Toh who encouraged him to write and read his compositions in the classrooms of the Roots Activity Learning Center in Washington, DC. He further honed his writing skills as a student intern at The Washington Informer and on the staff of The New Yorker Magazine, before commencing his playwriting career.
APPROPRIATE premiered at the Humana Festival in Louisville in March and is set to open at the Woolly Mammoth Theater in DC in November.
The Sundance Institute, presenter of the Tennessee Williams award, was founded by Robert Redford and has worked over the past three decades to bring to fruition the most compelling American theater.
Photos of the award event are featured below.