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Hunter College’s Branden Jacobs-Jenkins Named a 2016 MacArthur “Genius” Fellow

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, a Master Artist-in-Residence in the Rita & Burton Goldberg MFA in Playwriting at Hunter College, has been named a 2016 MacArthur Fellow. Known as the “Genius Grant,” Jacobs-Jenkins joins an impressive list of Fellows including Hunter College High School alum Lin-Manuel Miranda who was given the honor in 2015. 

Faculty member Jacobs-Jenkins and 22 other Fellows will receive a no-strings-attached $625,000 grant for exceptional creativity and potential for future contributions to their fields. The MacArthur grants are awarded annually to writers, visual artists, scientists, and other innovators and artists who exhibit extraordinary creative achievement and potential. Jacobs-Jenkins is recognized for his incendiary, incisive dramatic vision and his bold examinations of theatrical forms.

“Our Hunter students already recognize what a special talent Branden is,” said Hunter College President Jennifer J. Raab. “Branden and his colleague in the Goldberg MFA Playwriting program Annie Baker, another highly esteemed playwright, are both devoted to their students and continuing in the legacy set by Tina Howe who developed our program which is unique for a public university.  We are very fortunate to have them at Hunter where they are now also joined by noted playwright and poet Brighde Mullins.”   

Jacobs-Jenkins received an Obie Award for Best New American Play for his works Appropriate and An Octoroon, the latter an adaptation of The Octoroon by Dion Boucicault, with the Soho Repertory Theatre in 2014. He was also nominated for the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play. His new play Everybody will premiere at the Signature Theatre in January 2017.

The Goldberg MFA in Playwriting at Hunter College is a selective 2-year program that combines rigorous academic theater classes and intensive, hands-on writing workshops led by our artists-in-residence. The program is supplemented by the city itself as students partake in a wide range of cultural activities and professional development opportunities that can only be found in New York.  Recent alumni include Lindsey Ferrentino, who had a recent Roundabout Theater production of Ugly Lies the Bone, Callie Kimball, whose play Sofonisba made the 2016 Kilroys List, noting it as one of the year’s best unproduced plays by female writers and Nicole Pandolfo, who was recently selected for a 2017 commission with the NJPAC Stage Exchange with Premiere Stages at Kean University.

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