Anna Jacobs
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Anna Jacobs

Dame Joan Sutherland Fund recipient, Composer/Writer
Origin: Sydney, Australia
Currently based: Brooklyn, NY, United States

Anna K. Jacobs (composer, lyricist) wrote the music for POP! (3 CT Critics Circle Awards; 7 Helen Hayes nominations; 3 Richmond Theatre Critics Circle nominations), Harmony, Kansas (4 SCENIE Awards; 3 San Diego Critics Circle Award nominations), Stella and the Moon Man (Helpmann Award), and Cage Match (Prospect Theater Company, 2013). Her songbook has been presented in concert at Barrington Stage Company, Ars Nova, and the Darlinghurst Theatre. As inaugural members of Ars Nova’s Uncharted Program, Anna and her collaborator, Michael R. Jackson, are currently developing a musical adaptation of the indie horror film, Teeth. Anna is also in residence at Musical Theatre Factory, where she is developing Echo, a three-woman song drama that was recently presented in concert at The Cell (NY Theatre Barn, 2014).

Anna’s musicals have been developed and produced by Yale Rep and the Yale Institute for Music Theatre, Pittsburgh City Theatre, Studio Theatre, Sydney Theatre Company and Theatre of Image, Diversionary Theatre, Firehouse Theatre Project, Goodspeed Musicals, the Penn State New Musical Theatre Festival, Singing On Stage Productions, New York Theatre Barn, and NYU (SCAN). She is the recipient of a 2010-11 Dramatists Guild Fellowship, two ASCAP Plus Awards, grants from the Dame Joan Sutherland Fund and Anna Sosenko Assist Trust, and Artist Residencies at New Dramatists, Barrington Stage Company, Goodspeed Musicals, CAP21, and Bundanon Trust.

As an Educator, Anna partners with institutions such as the Metropolitan Opera Guild, Lincoln Center Theater, the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF), Hotchkiss Summer Portals, and Emerson College, to offer programs in musical theater songwriting, performance, and history. Anna received her M.F.A. from NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program, her B.M. (Honors I) from the University of Sydney, and also studied composition at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. She is a proud member of ASCAP and the Dramatists Guild of America. | Twitter


Who are you as an artist?
I am a musical theater composer and lyricist. My shows include POP! (Yale Rep, Pittsburgh City Theatre, Studio Theatre, etc.), HARMONY, KANSAS (Diversionary Theatre), STELLA AND THE MOON MAN (Sydney Theatre Company/Theatre of Image), TEETH (Ars Nova), ECHO (NY Theatre Barn), and the short musical CAGE MATCH (Prospect Theatre Company). I am passionate about telling stories that explore the theme of authenticity, and I have a lot of fun using music and words to conjure an array of unique and vibrant worlds, ranging from Andy Warhol's Factory, to a circumspect farming community in rural Western Kansas, to the mythological underworld of the Goddess Dentata and the mystical forests of Echo & Narcissus.

What prompted you to come to the US?
I came to the US to commence a Masters of Music at Indiana University. I was collaborating with a lot of opera singers during my year there, and a couple of them pointed me towards NYU's MFA program in Musical Theatre Writing. The program was a perfect fit and I relocated from Indiana to Brooklyn the following year.

What did your course/project involve?
In February 2011, Singing OnStage Productions presented the very first NYC workshop of what was then my new show, HARMONY, KANSAS. The company hired Broadway performers and mounted the workshop in an Off-Broadway theater. The generous grant that was offered to me by the Dame Joan Sutherland Fund helped off-set some of the workshop expenses. Since that workshop in 2011, HARMONY, KANSAS received further development at Goodspeed Musicals, followed by its world premiere at the Diversionary Theatre in San Diego. The production was received warmly by audiences and critics alike.

What were the highlights of your experience?
All my projects are a collaborative effort. In the case of HARMONY, KANSAS, I wrote the music and Bill Nelson wrote the book and lyrics. There is something quite special about creating a whole show with another person. You get to know them really well, you come to see all the different ways their own life experiences creep into the material you're co-writing, and you get to go on a journey together as you research things you never knew about before. For HARMONY, KANSAS, Bill and I took ourselves on a little road trip across Kansas for research purposes; we blasted country music, saw hundreds of miles of wheatfields, and stopped in at a gay bar on the outskirts of a small town called Junction City. The whole experience was a blast - and eye opening.
Where did you find inspiration?
There is a book could Farm Boys which documents the stories of many different men who grew up gay in rural America. That was a key source of inspiration for HARMONY, KANSAS, as well as Bill's and my own personal experiences singing in choirs and vocal ensembles. In general, my work is inspired by the questions or ambiguities in my own life that I don't have the answers to. That and the physical world around me; I get most of my best ideas when I'm running the loop in Prospect park.
What will you take away from this experience?
If you love the work that you do and you believe in yourself, be your own best advocate by applying for awards and grants that keep you motivated and moving forward in your career.
What is your favorite piece of work that resulted from this experience?
There's a song in HARMONY, KANSAS called "I Will Sing." It's the finale of the show and sums up everything that's joyful and transcendent about music. Bill and I had a different finale for HARMONY, KANSAS in the draft we presented back in the 2011. Without being able to see that finale sort-of flop, we would never have been able to wind up with the terrific number that ends our show today.
What are you currently working on?
I am an inaugural member of Ars Nova's Uncharted Program, where my collaborator, Michael R. Jackson, and I are developing a musical adaptation of the indie horror film, TEETH. I am also developing a three-woman song drama, called ECHO, which is inspired by the Echo and Narcissus myth.
What is your vision for the future?
My hope is that musical theatre will remain an integral part of our culture and continue to shape the way people think about themselves and their community. I want the work that I make to accomplish just that.

What advice would you give other artists aspiring to come to the US?
Have a clear grasp on what it is you want accomplish and reach out to Aussie expats who can share their own experiences and wealth of knowledge. 

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