Born and raised in the Philippines, Jessica Hagedorn moved to the United States in her teens. She lived in the Bay Area for many years, and studied at the American Conservatory Theater Program in San Francisc o. In the late '70s, Hagedorn moved from San Francisco to New York City. What brought her to New York was the chance to perform and collaborate with fellow writers Ntozake Shange and Thulani Davis on Where The Mississippi Meets the Amazon. The pi ece, which combined poetry and music, was presented by Joseph Papp in 1978. Later that same year, Hagedorn wrote and performed Mango Tango, a solo piece with live music which was also produced by Joe Papp for the Public Theater.
Other plays and multimedia theater pieces have followed since then. They include Airport Music, (a collaboration with Han Ong) which was presented at the Joseph Papp Public Theater and at Berkeley Repetory Theater, and the adaptation of Dogeate rs for the stage. The play version of Dogeaters, which was developed at the Sundance Theatre Lab, premiered at La Jolla Playhouse in 1998. The award-winning production was directed by Michael Greif, and is scheduled for a run at New York's Pu blic Theater in the 2000-2001 season.
Published work includes the novel Dogeaters, which was nominated for a National Book Award, and The Gangster of Love, which was nominated for the Irish Times International Fiction Prize. She is the author of a collection of poetry and prose entitled Danger And Beauty, and the editor of the groundbreaking Charlie Chan is Dead: An Anthology of Contemporary Asian-American Fiction. Her most recent book is Burning Heart: A Portrait of the Philippines (Rizzoli Books Internation al 1999), a collaboration with photojournalist Marissa Roth.
Nonfiction articles, interviews, reviews, and essays have appeared in: The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Harper's Bazaar, The Nation, BOMB, USA Weekend, and The Village Voice. Her poetry, scripts, essays, and fiction have been anthologized widely.
Work in other media includes the 1992 screenplay for Fresh Kill, an independent feature film directed and produced by Shu Lea Cheang. Other film/video collaborations with Cheang include Color Schemes, and Those Fluttering Objects of Desi re, which were both presented at The Whitney Museum. A documentary entitled Excuse Me...Are you Pilipino? with filmmaker Angel Velasco-Shaw is also in progress.
With producer-designer John Woo, Hagedorn created "The Pink Palace" for Oxygen Media TV. Seen through the eyes of a spunky sixteen year old girl named Baby, "The Pink Palace" chronicles the Bay Area adventures of Baby's non-traditional immigrant Filipino family and her wacky friends. It is scheduled to air in mid-March, 2000, as part of Oxygen's much-anticipated "X-Chromosone" series of short animated films.
Grants and awards include a 1994 Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund Writer's Award, a 1995 National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship, a 1997 Sundance Theater Lab Fellowship, and a 1998 NEA-TCG Theatre Residency Fellowship.
Hagedorn has taught at Columbia University and at New York University. She is raising two wonderful daughters and writing her third novel.