“Insane and Wonderful”


Grace here. I saw a great article in the Washington Post today about the beautiful and talented Annie Baker. It seems she is as charming in person as she is through her work…just don’t call her gentle.

Here’s a bit of the article:  

“She seems low-key and practical, perhaps because her success isn’t exactly as out-of-the-blue or as absolute as it seems.

After college Baker stopped writing plays while working still more day jobs, culminating with an enjoyable gig as a fact-checker for “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (Baker considers herself an eternal student; she downloads free lectures from major scholars in religion and philosophy on iTunes University, saying, “I highly recommend it.”) Seeing two plays, Young Jean Lee’s “Pullman Washington” and then Caryl Churchill’s “A Number” prompted her to apply for a playwriting group with Ensemble Studio Theatre.

She got in, and support, from development to full productions, rapidly followed. Even Hollywood picked her up quickly, though Baker says in a diverting singsong voice, “I don’t like to talk about it.” (She wrote a couple screenplays and developed a half hour show for HBO; nothing has been filmed.)

For now, at least, the theater is her metier, with Baker’s fine-grained characterizations and fundamental compassion drawing sober comparisons to Chekhov. Not coincidentally, her adaptation of “Uncle Vanya,” directed by Gold, just closed off-Broadway…

Baker is now part of the inaugural Residency Five group at New York’s Signature Theatre. The program offers five playwrights cash awards and guarantees each dramatist three full productions of premieres over five years.

“I’ve been really lucky in that I have a couple theaters that have said, ‘We stand behind you,’ ” Baker says. “Signature, especially, is like, ‘Write your weird play. We’ll do it.’ It’s actually, like, daunting. But really awesome.”

MaryBeth Wise and Michael Kramer in Annie Baker’s Body Awareness–now at Theater J

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