Jennifer Kidwell

2016 Pew Fellow

1/5: Jennifer Kidwell, 2016 Pew Fellow. Photo by Ryan Collerd.
2/5: Jennifer Kidwell, 2016 Pew Fellow. Photo by Ryan Collerd.
3/5: Jennifer Kidwell. Photo by Ian Douglas.
4/5: Jennifer Kidwell in Underground Railroad Game. Photo by Johanna Austin.
5/5: Underground Railroad Game. Photo by Johanna Austin.

“The comedic sensibility of my work is inspired by American comedians of the 1970s who, like performance artists, created without restraint and so were able to crack open dangerous truths.”

Jennifer Kidwell’s (b. 1978) poignant, performer-driven theater work addresses the complexities of race and notions of American history with sharp intelligence and wry humor. Invested in probing challenging social and historical truths, Kidwell says her work is “concerned with discomfort and/or confusion around normative practices and systems.” With Scott Sheppard, she premiered and performed in Underground Railroad Game, lauded by The Philadelphia Inquirer as a “brilliant theatrical commentary on contemporary race relations.” A graduate of Pig Iron Theatre Company’s School for Advanced Performance Training, Kidwell created and appeared in the company’s Center-funded project, I Promised Myself to Live Faster, and The Wilma Theater’s production of Antigone. For the 2014 Whitney Biennial, she performed in Joe Scanlan’s provocative piece Dick’s Last Stand as the artist Donelle Woolford. She is co-artistic director of the theater company Lightning Rod Special and co-founder of the Brooklyn-based performance space JACK. She holds a BA in English and comparative literature from Columbia University.


FringeArts presented the Philadelphia premieres of Jérôme Bel’s The Show Must Go On and Jan Fabre’s Another Sleepy Dusty Delta Day in the 2008 Philadelphia Live Arts Festival.

In honor of the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month this April, we highlight the recent achievements of many of our Pew Fellow poets.

Grants & Grantees

New Paradise Laboratories is an experimental performance ensemble that explores radical means to bend conventional ideas of theater.

Grants & Grantees

Brian Teare’s (Pew Fellow, 2015) poetry is concerned with embodiment—both our human bodies and the natural environment around us.

Grants & Grantees

John Blake, Jr. (1947–2014, Pew Fellow, 2010) took his inspiration as a contemporary jazz violinist and composer from some of the genre’s greats.

Grants & Grantees

William Larson is a media artist and a 2001 Pew Fellow.

New Paradise Laboratories continues its Center-funded investigation into improvisational structures, audience interactivity, and games of chance through the ongoing project An Investigation of Contingency and the Uses of Data Streams.

Pig Iron member Dito van Reigersberg ruminates on past and present artistic influences for the production Zero Cost House.

Legendary downtown theater artist Richard Schechner asks, “What’s the difference between forgery and art,” between “new” and “original?”

Grants & Grantees

Hilary Harp is a sculptor and installation artist, and a 1995 Pew Fellow.

Grants & Grantees

Foley, a 2012 Pew Fellow, explores how every movement, no matter how ordinary or seemingly inconsequential, informs a responding movement, and so on, in an ongoing creative feedback loop.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel’s current playwriting project is a Center-funded commission for Philadelphia’s Wilma Theater, based on Don Juan Returns from the War.