Project: The Jacobs-Jenkins/Tropicana Project
A My Dinner With Andre-style debate with compare-and-contrast performances delivered throughout, The Jacobs-Jenkins/Tropicana Project touches on how art relates to history and history relates to art, updating it through the artists’ personal histories and experiences. While the two artists share a number of aesthetic and thematic concerns—identity, belonging, the nature of history and storytelling—the work that they make and the context in which they make it could not be more different. Since the 80s, Carmelita has worked on the fringes of a “mainstream,” which has very little room for queer artists of color, whereas Branden, whose works have appeared at The Public Theater, has directly profited from funding structures geared towards the encouragement of “minority” voices, something virtually unheard of 25 years ago.
Awardee: Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Performing Arts, 2016
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ playwright credits include Gloria (Vineyard Theatre), Appropriate (Obie Award; Outer Critics Circle Nomination; Signature Theatre), Neighbors (The Public Theater), An Octoroon (Obie Award; Soho Rep, Theatre for a New Audience) and War (Yale Rep). Branden is currently a Residency Five playwright at the Signature Theater. His work has been seen at Actor’s Theater of Louisville, Victory Gardens Theater, Woolly Mammoth Theater, The Matrix Theater in LA, Mixed Blood Theater in Minneapolis, CompanyOne in Boston, and the HighTide Festival in the UK. He is under commission from Lincoln Center/LCT-3 and MTC. Honors include a Paula Vogel Award, a fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the inaugural Tennessee Williams award. He has taught at NYU and Queens University of Charlotte and holds an MA in Performance Studies from NYU and a BA from Princeton University. Graduate of the Lila Acheson Wallace Playwrights Program at The Juilliard School.
Awardee: Carmelita Tropicana
Performing Arts, 2016
Carmelita Tropicana has been performing in New York’s downtown arts scene since the 1980s, straddling the worlds of performance art and theater in the U.S., Latin America and Europe with her irreverent humor, subversive fantasy and bilingual puns. She received an Obie for Sustained Excellence in Performance (1999) and is a recipient of the Performance and Activism Award from the Women in Theater Program / American Theater in Higher Education (2015). Notable and recent works include: Schwanze-Beast (2015), a performance commissioned by Vermont Performance Lab; Recycling Atlantis (2014), a performance installation at 80WSE Gallery; Post Plastica (2012), an installation/video and performance presented at El Museo del Barrio; and the highly anthologized Milk of Amnesia (1994). Her publications include the book, co-edited with Holly Hughes, Memories of the Revolution: The First Ten Years of the WOW Café (University of Michigan Press, 2015). Tropicana has taught at numerous universities and sits on the Board of Directors at Performance Space 122 and NYFA.