Michael R. Jackson, Drama


Whiting Awards 2019

Michael R. Jackson. Photo: Joey Stocks.

Michael R. Jackson holds a B.F.A. and an M.F.A. in playwriting and musical theater writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. As a songwriter, he has seen his work performed everywhere from Joe’s Pub to the National Alliance for Musical Theatre. He wrote lyrics and cowrote the book for the musical adaptation of the 2007 horror film Teeth with composer and co-bookwriter Anna K. Jacobs. He wrote the book, music, and lyrics for the musicals White Girl in Danger and A Strange Loop (which receives its world premiere at Playwrights Horizons in coproduction with Page 73 Productions in May 2019). He has received a 2017 Jonathan Larson Grant, a 2017 Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award, a 2017 ASCAP Foundation Harold Adamson Award, and a 2016/2017 Dramatist Guild Fellowship, and was the 2017 Williamstown Theatre Festival Playwright-in-Residence. He has commissions from Grove Entertainment, Barbara Whitman Productions, and LCT3.


Excerpt from A Strange Loop:

(Blackness. Intermission chimes. Lights on USHER, a black queer man with his back to us ringing chimes from the back of a theater that manifests as a strange loop in his mind, along with silhouettes of his THOUGHTS who stand by facing us, blinking like a cursor.)


#1. INTERMISSION SONG (INTRO)                                                        (THOUGHTS)



Ladies and gentlemen, please return to your seats; the second act is about to begin! Ladies and gentlemen, please return to your seats; the second act is about to begin! It will feature performers running down the aisles and wearing pantaloons and gaudy flowing robes that I think are meant to indicate the wholesome corporate beauty of “Mother Africa”! There will be swinging birds on fishing poles and a black Ken doll with a crossover dialect in a lion costume! What else? Oh, yes! In the background, there will be a young overweight-to-obese homosexual and/or gay and/or queer assigned male at birth, cisgender, able-bodied university-and-graduate-school educated, musical theater writing, broke-ass middle-class politically far left-leaning black-identified and classified American descendant of slaves full of self-conscious femme energy who thinks he’s probably a vers bottom but not totally certain of that dressed in an usher uniform! Surrounded by his extremely persistent Thoughts!


#2. (OPENING) 2INTERMISSION SONG                                                (THOUGHTS, USHER)


How many minutes ‘til the end of intermission?


Is that how the show should open?


Should there even be a show?


No, it should start with what he’s thinking


Which is just a cursor blinking


‘Cause of all of the directions that the narrative could go!


How many minutes ‘til the end of intermission?

Some say write from exploration

Some say just write what you know


But either way you keep careening so it’s hard to find the meaning in your—


Big, black and queer-ass American Broadway—


How many minutes ‘til the end of intermission

If you can’t please the Caucasians will never get the dough—


‘Cause critics clinically deny us


They deny implicit bias


‘Cause their vanity’s supported


By a system that’s distorted


But, of course it’s you who’s crazy


‘Cause you’re just too dumb and lazy and you lack both craft and rigor

THOUGHT #3                                THOUGHTS #1–2, 4–6

‘Cause you’re just a fucking nig—

Big, black and queer-ass American


Big, black and queer-ass American



Big, black and queer-ass American Broadway show!

ALL THOUGHTS                                USHER

Usher-usher! Usher! Usher!

Usher-usher! Usher! Usher!                    Oh my god oh my god oh my god, etc.

Usher-usher! Usher! Usher! etc.

How many minutes ‘til the end of        .Less than two!!!

intermission? etc.