At its 30th Anniversary Conference in New York City, NY, the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas presented the G. E. Lessing Award for Career Achievement to Morgan Jenness. The Lessing Award is LMDA’s most prestigious award, given for lifetime achievement in the field of dramaturgy. Jenness is only the 6th recipient of the award in LMDA’s 30-year history.
Jenness is an extremely respected artist in the American theatre. Throughout her distinguished career she has worked as a dramaturg, literary manager, director of new play development, literary agent, and professor at places such as the New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater, New York Theater Workshop, the Los Angeles Theater Center, and Columbia University. She has spent countless hours advocating for writers, artists, and the theatre community. She invites everyone to dig deeper, become more honest, and push to reflect the challenges of the world around us. A 2003 recipient of an Obie Special Citation for Longtime Support of Playwrights, she was also named the 2015 Doris Duke Foundation Impact Award recipient for Theatre. As playwright Naomi Iizuka says: “She is a force of nature. She's fierce and brilliant and brave. She's a truth teller, a visionary, an alchemist, and a pioneer…She makes extraordinary things happen…She has been a muse and an inspiration to me for many years, as she has been for countless others. She is the reason why many of us are here doing what we do.”
In addition to her contributions to the field, Jenness has been an active and vital member of LMDA, devoting substantial amounts of her time and energy to the organization. She has sat on LMDA's Executive Committee and Board of Directors, coordinated and delivered the Keynote Speech at past conferences, and is currently a member of LMDA's Advisory Board.
LMDA President Beth Blickers says: “It is deeply appropriate that LMDA celebrates Morgan’s contributions to the field of dramaturgy during its 30th anniversary conference in the town she has made her home. Whether, in her words, she was ‘committing acts of dramaturgy’ in diners, in rehearsal rooms or while marching in the streets, she has inspired collaborators around the world. She brings the act into the light wherever she goes, as her questioning nature is applied not just to theater, but also to social justice and environmental advocacy. In the words of playwright David Adjmi, ‘Her acts of dramaturgy aren’t just for plays, they are for human lives.’”
LMDA Board Chair Brian Quirt says: “Morgan is an inspiring theatre artist whose work with, for and on behalf of dramaturgs and playwrights has and continues to be a beacon for those of us following in her footsteps. Morgan remains a force in the theatre world, with brilliant forays into other fields, and I'm delighted that we could acknowledge her remarkable career with this award."
To read President Blickers introduction to Jenness, please click here.