There’s Another Genius on the Upper East Side: Hunter’s Annie Baker Named a 2017 MacArthur Fellow

Annie Baker, the co-associate director of the Rita and Burton Goldberg MFA in Playwriting Program at Hunter College, has been named a 2017 MacArthur Fellow. There's Another Genius on the Upper East Side: Hunter's Annie Baker Named a 2017 MacArthur FellowAs a recipient of the “Genius Grant,” Baker joins an impressive list of MacArthur Fellows including her co-associate director, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, who received the award last year, and Hunter College High School alum Lin-Manuel Miranda, who was given the honor in 2015.

Baker and 23 other Fellows will receive a no-strings-attached $625,000 grant recogizing their exceptional creativity and potential for future contributions to their fields. The MacArthur grants are awarded annually to writers, visual artists, scientists, and other innovators and artists. Professor Baker won a 2014 Pulitzer Prize for her play The Flick.  The New York Times called her most recent play, The Antipodes, “in-all-ways fabulous.”

“This is another recognition of the fact that we have an extraordinary playwriting program at Hunter College,” said Hunter College President Jennifer J. Raab.  “Our students already know that they are truly fortunate to be able to learn from Annie Baker. Annie and her co-associate director Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, also a MacArthur Fellow recipient, who are very devoted to their students and are now joined by our new theatre department chair, Gregory Mosher, a renowned director and producer.”

Professors Baker and Jacobs-Jenkins are both Distinguised Artists-in-Residence and teach classes in the Rita and Burton Goldberg MFA in Playwriting Program at Hunter College.  According to Professor Baker, “The award means I can now focus on what matters to me: my playwriting, mentoring young writers, and continually educating myself about the world around me.I want to take bigger artistic risks and audit lots of Hunter classes!”

Professor Baker has a BFA from the Department of Dramatic Writing at New York University’s Tisch School and an MFA from Brooklyn College.  In addition to her Pulitzer Prize, she also received a Hull-Warriner Award, a Susan Smith Blackburn Award, and an Obie Award for Playwriting for The Flick; an Obie Award for best New American Play and a Drama Desk nomination for Best Play for Circle Mirror Transformation; and an Obie Award for best New American Play for The Aliens.  Her plays have been produced at over 200 theatres throughout the U.S. and in over a dozen countries, including productions at the National Theatre and Royal Court in London and the Moscow Art Theatre in Moscow. Other recent honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, Steinberg Playwriting Award, American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award, and the Cullman Fellowship at the New York Public Library.

The Rita and Burton Goldberg MFA in Playwriting Program at Hunter College is a selective 2-year program that combines rigorous academic theatre classes and intensive, hands-on writing workshops led by our artists-in-residence. The program is supplemented by the city itself as students partake in a wide range of cultural activities and professional development opportunities that can only be found in New York. Almost all of the Goldberg MFAs have had their works performed at theatres or festivals around the USA, and many have won or been finalists for a wide variety of prizes in major competitions, including Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center Awards, the Princess Grace Awards, and others.  Recent alumni include Lindsey Ferrentino, whose play Ugly Lies the Bone  was produced at the Roundabout Theatre in 2015, and whose new play, Amy and the Orphans, will be produced by the Roundabout Theatre as part of its 2017/2018 season; Johnna Adams MFA ’12, whose play Gidion’s Knot has had more than 20 productions across the US since 2012; Callie Kimball, whose play Sofonisba made the 2016 Kilroys List, which recognized it as one of the year’s best unproduced plays by female writers; Nicole Pandolfo, who was recently selected for a 2017 commission with the NJPAC Stage Exchange with Premiere Stages at Kean University; and Charly Simpson, MFA ’17, whose play Jump was developed at the MFA Playwrights’ Workshop at the Kennedy Center in July 2017.