By Brian Robin
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins Receives Inaugural Pinnacle Commission
South Coast Repertory, in partnership with Playwrights Horizons, announced that playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins has been awarded the first Pinnacle Commission.
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.
Part of The [email protected], SCR’s play-development program, 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.
The Pinnacle Commission builds on SCR’s commitment to spotlighting and supporting new and established voices in the American theatre. Through The [email protected], 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.
“I’m proud and grateful to launch the Pinnacle Commission as part of The [email protected] I’m further humbled our esteemed colleagues at Playwrights Horizons have agreed to partner with us in supporting the immensely talented Branden Jacobs-Jenkins,” SCR Artistic Director David 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."
Jacobs-Jenkins’ considerable talents have been recognized numerous times. Two of his 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 Pels Theater Award, Emerging American Playwright, the inaugural Tennessee Williams Award and USA Artists and John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowships.