Not a Moment But a Movement
As part of our commitment as a company to find new ways to amplify the voices and the incredible work of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) theatremakers, we have created a new segment on The Intermission Show highlighting BIPOC playwrights. We have also created this webpage so that you can read and learn along with us. Every Friday on the show, we’ll feature a new playwright and update this page with more information for your edification and enjoyment.
Friday, October 2, 2020
(View Episode #59 featuring this playwright HERE)
Today’s featured artist is Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, a 2016 MacArthur Genius, Obie Award winner and 2016 and 2018 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. His work is renowned for its dark humor, explosive surprises, and commentary on race in America. We encourage you to check out ALL of his work, but today we’re going to be focusing on one of his first plays.
Neighbors is a wildly theatrical, explosive play on race. The plot is surreal, the issues real and damning. The plot follows an upwardly mobile African American professor, his white wife and biracial daughter, as they witness the arrival of new neighbors, a loud and raucous family of black entertainers, each friendly but with an edge of anger. It’s a scathing exploration of denial and a satire of black entertainment from minstrelsy to hip hop, as these new neighbors are not just taking over the neighborhood—they’re infiltrating his perfect, interracial family and his perfect, post-racial sanity. Neighbors makes it clear that we do not live in a post-race America.
“…audacious, fitfully stunning…Jacobs-Jenkins invents a theatrical conceit sure to baffle and enrage…it’s exciting to hear a new voice that is by turns silly and profound.” —Time Out NY.
“Mr. Jacobs-Jenkins has talent…effective comic writing…daring conceit.” —NY Times
“Part deconstructed minstrel show, part family drama and a sharp retelling of Euripides’ Iphigenia at Aulis, Jacobs-Jenkins’ tragic farce has more energy and ideas than half a dozen anodyne ‘issue’ plays…Jacobs-Jenkins knows that rage plays best as savage humor, and he takes us to excruciatingly awkward places—and then leaves us to fend for ourselves…Messy, bold, desperately funny, and deeply felt: NEIGHBORS is worth getting to know.” —LA Times
“This intriguing blend of over-the-top satire and family drama serves emphatic notice that its young writer is a force to reckon with…” —The Boston Globe
“It’s smart, funny, shocking, discomfiting, and extremely entertaining. It seems to me that’s what theatre should be.” —BroadwayWorld.com
Photos are from the Company One Theatre premiere of the production in 2011.
You can watch a video of the playwright talking about his play on YouTube HERE, or if you would like to get your hands on this incredibly powerful play and read it yourself, you can find it HERE. (A subscription is required to read the play at Drama Online.) You can also purchase two of Jacobs-Jenkins other plays — Octoroon and Appropriate — on Amazon.com HERE.
We encourage all of our patrons and supporters to check out this important playwright’s work.