Morgan Jenness

Doris Duke Impact Award, 2015

New York, NY

Morgan Jenness is a freelance dramaturg who has worked at the Public Theater for over a decade as a manager, director, and associate producer; New York Theater Workshop as an Associate Artistic Director; and Los Angeles Theater Center. She has provided key dramaturgical support on projects including Stacy Klein’s The Grand Parade, currently touring nationally and internationally, Taylor Mac’s The Lily’s Revenge (2009), and SURRENDER (2007), her MAP Fund supported collaboration with the International WOW company. In 2003, she was presented with an OBIE Award Special Citation for Longtime Support of Playwrights. She has taught as a visiting artist and adjunct faculty at Bread Loaf, Brown University, Columbia University, Fordham University, University of Iowa, and New York University. Her current project is This Distracted Globe, a consulting entity intended to provide dramaturgical input and overall guidance to creative projects that meld the arts, sciences, and humanities.

  • Photo Credit: Alexandre M.S. Carvalho
  • Morgan Jenness- Graduate Symposium: Performance In/And the Street (Toronto, Canada 2013): /126968120
    Graduate Symposium: Performance In/And the Street (Toronto, Canada 2013)
    Morgan worked with Universes and director Chay Yew to structure a frame and central organizing metaphor for numerous songs, interview materials and monologues that explored the impact of post- Hurricane Katrina devastation in and beyond New Orleans.
  • Occupy Town Square/Washington Square Park (September 2012)
  • Morgan Jenness- Dramatists Guild Panel on the Art of Synopsis: /127506549
    Dramatists Guild Panel on the Art of Synopsis
  • Photo Credit: Sheri Goldhirsch
    Speaking at a Young Playwrights gathering
  • Photo Credit: Maria Baranova
    Grand Parade (of the 20th Century) (2013)
    Morgan worked with Stacy Klein and the company to shape archetypes for their characters, from both tarot cards and stock characters, as well as "invisible narrative" threads through the fabric of the work to ground them in their journey through the swirl of history.
  • Photo Credit: Erik McGregor
    Solutions Grassroots (2014)
    Developed with Josh Fox and the company
  • Photo Credit: Erik McGregor
    Solutions Grassroots (2014)
    Developed with Josh Fox and the company
  • Photo Credit: Sheri Goldhirsch
    Young Playwrights
    Morgan has been part of the Young Playwrights, Inc. team for 33 of its 34 years, serving as dramaturg, director, teacher, play selection committee member, artistic advisory board member, and friend. The through-line for all of these things is her ability to serve as our "minister of intentionality" — at once supporting and defending the playwright's vision and agency (regardless of the age or experience of that playwright), the needs of the play at hand, and Young Playwrights Inc.'s commitment to providing a professional platform for those whose creative voices would otherwise go unheard.

What are your key goals for the award period? What challenges, desires, drives, or needs are inspiring these goals?

My key goals for the award period are to more actively explore the idea of the creative agora, the intersections between professional, educational, and community worlds and audiences, and to further investigate the notion of "social sculpture" —how theater, as a potential container for all the arts, can serve as a central magnetic force for investigation, dialogue and inspiration for various diverse communities. I also want to find Creative Campus/Creative Community venues for the projects with which I have already started to engage, including POWER TO THE PEOPLE: The Solutions Grassroots Tour (dealing with impact of fossil fuel industry in our society, from climate change, to environmental damage to war); The Grand Parade (of the 20th Century) — encouraging inter-connectivity between history, arts and education programs, Transcripts — collecting and presenting personal narratives from transgender communities and Don't Feed the Indians, a comedic interactive revue looking at Native representation within the larger culture. I also want to continue to find, help develop, and facilitate works that serve as ethical and aesthetic structures for multiple engagements and which can also cross the boundaries between arts and activism.