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Press Release: Inaugural Pinnacle Commission


New Commission Recognizes Established American Playwrights

COSTA MESA, Calif. (March 2, 2023)—South Coast Repertory (Artistic Director David Ivers, Managing Director Paula Tomei), in partnership with Playwrights Horizons (Artistic Director Adam Greenfield, Managing Director Leslie Marcus) announced that playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins has been awarded the first Pinnacle Commission. The Pinnacle Commission is part of The Lab@SCR, the theatre’s play-development program.

Jacobs-Jenkins just made his SCR debut with Appropriate, which recently closed its run as part of Voices of America. It alternated performances in rotating repertory with Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes. Appropriate received the 2014 Obie Award for Best American New Play, which it shared with Jacobs-Jenkins’ play An Octoroon.

The Pinnacle Commission was created in 2019 as another way to recognize and expand support for established artists of remarkable achievement. At $60,000, it is the largest commission SCR offers playwrights.

"I'm so honored to be the first recipient of this commission. This is an unheard-of opportunity for any dramatist and I just look forward to working with these two legendary institutions of new American playwriting,” Jacobs-Jenkins said.

“I’m proud and grateful to launch the Pinnacle Commission as part of The Lab@SCR. I’m further humbled our esteemed colleagues at Playwrights Horizons have agreed to partner with us in supporting the immensely talented Branden Jacobs-Jenkins,” Ivers said.

Playwrights Horizons Artistic Director Adam Greenfield said the inaugural Pinnacle Commission "brings so much to look forward to, as we deepen our relationship with our colleagues at South Coast Repertory and begin a new journey with Branden, whose work adds endless surprise and complexity to the American canon. It also, for me personally, marks a sweet homecoming, a return to my teenage stomping grounds in Costa Mesa and the first theater I called home."

Appropriate is extraordinary dramaturgically and theatrically, with characters and narrative deeply rooted to the experiences of this country,” Ivers said.

Two of Jacobs-Jenkins’ other works, Gloria and Everybody, were finalists for the 2016 and 2018 Pulitzer Prizes for Drama. In 2016, Jacobs-Jenkins was named a MacArthur Fellow, receiving one of that foundation’s “genius” grants. His other major awards include the Steinberg Playwrights Award, Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright from London Evening Standard, the Windham-Campbell Literature Prize at Yale, the PEN/Laura Peis Theater Award, Emerging American Playwright, the inaugural Tennessee Williams Award and USA Artists and John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowships.

Jacobs-Jenkins currently teaches at Yale University, having previously taught playwriting at the University of Texas, Hunter College, Juilliard, Princeton and NYU.

The Pinnacle Commission builds on SCR’s commitment to spotlighting and supporting new and established voices in the American theatre. Through The Lab@SCR, SCR created a multi-faceted new play-development program that strives to provide commissions for playwrights at various stages of their careers, develop new American musicals and showcase new works through the Pacific Playwrights Festival, NewSCRipts play readings and NewSCRipts in Schools.

Since the inaugural Pacific Playwrights Festival in 1988, SCR has presented more than 150 new plays, with 90% of those going on to production at SCR or other theatres. Among these are A Doll’s House, Part 2 by Lucas Hnath, Vietgone by Qui Nguyen and Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee. This year’s 25th annual Pacific Playwrights Festival is May 5-7, 2023.

More information is available at

Tony Award-winning South Coast Repertory, founded in 1964, is led by Artistic Director David Ivers and Managing Director Paula Tomei. SCR is widely recognized as one of the leading professional theatres in the United States. While its productions represent a balance of classic and modern plays and musicals, SCR is renowned for its extensive new-play development program—The Lab@SCR—which includes one of the nation’s largest commissioning programs for emerging, mid-career and established writers. Of SCR’s more than 500 productions, one-quarter have been world premieres. SCR-developed works have garnered two Pulitzer Prizes and eight Pulitzer nominations, several Obie Awards and scores of major new-play awards. Located in Costa Mesa, Calif., SCR is home to the 507-seat Segerstrom Stage, the 336-seat Julianne Argyros Stage and the 94-seat Nicholas Studio.

ABOUT PLAYWRIGHTS HORIZONS: Playwrights Horizons is a writer's theater dedicated to the development of contemporary American playwrights, and to the production of innovative new work. In a city rich with cultural offerings, Playwrights Horizons' 51-year-old mission is unique among theaters of its size; the organization has distinguished itself by a steadfast commitment to centering and advancing the voice of the playwright. It’s a mission that is always timely, and one that’s necessary in the ongoing evolution of theater in this country.

Playwrights Horizons believes that playwrights are the great storytellers of our time, offering essential contributions to civic discourse and illuminating life’s greatest paradoxes. And they believe in the singularity of a writer’s voice, valuing the broad, eclectic spectrum and diversity of American writers. At Playwrights Horizons, writers are supported in every stage of their growth through commissions (engaging several of today’s most imaginative playwrights each year), New Works Lab, POP Master Class series, Soundstage audio program, the Lighthouse Project, and Almanac, the organization’s digital magazine. 

Playwrights Horizons presents a season of productions annually on their two stages, each of which is a world, American, or New York premiere. Much like Playwrights Horizons’ work, their audience is risk-taking and adventurous; and the organization is committed to strengthening their engagement and feeding their curiosity through all of its programming, onsite and online.

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