The Jacobs-Jenkins/Tropicana Project
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is a playwright whose works address issues such as identity, family, class, and race.Artist Bio
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.Artist Bio
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 1980s, 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.
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is a playwright who is leading the way forward on important discussions around class, race and history. Inspired by the history of theater, Jacobs-Jenkins writes plays that often use a historical lens to critique contemporary culture. As a playwright, Jacobs-Jenkins is unafraid to make his audience feel uncomfortable, both through confrontation, unconventional techniques and in his honest portrayal of race in the US.
Jacobs-Jenkins’ playwright credits include Gloria, Appropriate, Neighbors, An Octoroon, and War. His plays have toured the world, and he received a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2016 for his work.
New York, NY
Carmelita Tropicana is a writer and performer who straddles the worlds of performance art and theater. She uses irreverent humor and fantasy as subversive tools to challenge cultural stereotypes and rewrite history from multiple perspectives. By performing hyperbolic feminine and masculine personas, as well as numerous animals, insects, and fantasy creatures, she challenges historical and narrative authority. Her work addresses political issues and looks at the intersections that exist between ethnicity, sexuality, gender, race and class.
Awards and fellowships include United States Artists Fellowship (2021), CLAGS, Center for Lesbian and Gays Studies José Muñoz Award (2021), Guggenheim Fellowship (2017), Creative Capital (2016) Anonymous Was A Woman (2005), and an Obie (1999). Her writing has appeared in many anthologies, most recently in Animal Acts, Performing Species Today (University of Michigan Press, 2015). A collection of scripts, short stories and essay appear in her book I, Carmelita Tropicana, Performing Between Cultures (2000) published by Beacon Press. She sits on the Board of Directors of the New York Foundation for the Arts.