Jeffrey Eric Jenkins is Professor of Theatre at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. Prior to his current appointment, Jenkins served as Head of the Department of Theatre from 2012 to 2017, where he oversaw a restructuring of administration and helped set the department on a course that resulted in greatly enhanced engagement with online education, financial stability, and improved national rankings. With his creative partner, Tony Award-winning director and Swanlund Professor Daniel Sullivan, Jenkins created The Sullivan Project, which has provided new plays with fully realized productions, including works by Pulitzer Prize-winners David Auburn (2014) and Donald Margulies (2016). He was a key collaborator on the Spotlight on Broadway documentary series, a forty-part series on Broadway theatres commissioned by the Mayor’s Office of the City of New York.
Before his appointment at Illinois Theatre, Jenkins served as Director of Theatre Studies at New York University, where he taught dramatic literature, theatre history, and criticism for fourteen years. He also taught directing at the University of Washington, graduate dramaturgy at SUNY-Stony Brook, and served as a curricular consultant to Primary Stages. Jenkins has directed more than two dozen productions in theatres across the United States, and was a member of the management team for Peter Brook’s acclaimed productions of The Mahabharata and The Cherry Orchard at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
A former chairman of the American Theatre Critics Association, Jenkins has published articles in major newspapers, reference books and scholarly journals. He is in his second term as a vice president of the International Association of Theatre Critics (AICT-IATC) for which he is executive editor of Critical Stages/Scènes Critiques. Jenkins took degrees in research and studio concentrations from the University of East Anglia (PhD), Carnegie Mellon University (MFA), and San Francisco State University (BA).
His books include Under the Copper Beech: Conversations With American Theater Critics, eight volumes of The Best Plays Theater Yearbook series, and chapters in recent titles such as Interrogating America Through Theatre and Performance; Angels in American Theatre: Patrons, Patronage, and Philanthropy; Shakespearean Criticism; and Intertextuality in American Drama. Jenkins served four consecutive terms on the board of trustees of the American Theatre Wing, before returning to its advisory committee, and has chaired the Henry Hewes Design Awards since 2002. His service to the profession includes a dozen years on the executive committee for the Theatre Hall of Fame and as a continuing dramaturgical consultant to productions in development.