BLOOD KNOT, HURT VILLAGE, et al. Featured in Signature Center's 2011-12 Season

Signature Theatre Company announced today seven productions for its inaugural 2012 season at Signature Center (480 West 42nd Street near 10th Avenue), the company's new Frank Gehry-designed permanent home opening in February 2012. Signature Center will allow the Company to expand its programming, introduce new initiatives, and build audiences. Featuring three intimate theatres, a Studio Theatre, rehearsal studio and a shared lobby with café and bookstore, Signature Center will be both a theatre community hub and a neighborhood destination.

Signature will launch Signature Center with Athol Fugard as its inaugural Residency One playwright. Residency One is the continuation of Signature's core one-year Playwright-in-Residence program that produces a series of plays from the body of work of one accomplished writer. Signature will explore the works of Fugard, the South African playwright, director and actor, who was honored with a special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement at the 2011 Tony Awards. The Residency One Athol Fugard Series will feature Blood Knot, My Children! My Africa! and the New York premiere of The Train Driver. Mr. Fugard will direct Blood Knot and The Train Driver. Ruben Santiago-Hudson will direct My Children! My Africa!

Signature's Legacy Program, a homecoming for past Signature Playwrights-in-Residence, will feature the World Premiere of Edward Albee's Laying an Egg, directed by David Esbjornson. Signature devoted its 1993-1994 Season to Edward Albee, with the world premiere of Fragments, New York premieres of Marriage Play, Counting the Ways and Listening, Sand: Box, The Sandbox, and Finding the Sun.. Albee returned to Signature in the 2001-2002 10th Anniversary Season for the presentation of Edward Albee's Occupant, later also staged in the 2007-2008 Season.

Residency Five is Signature's newest initiative, a groundbreaking program that provides a group of playwrights with the full range of Signature's resources for a period of five years to create and produce new work, and guarantees each playwright a minimum of three world premieres at Signature Center. This is the first program of its kind in the American theatre, going far beyond the traditional commissioning or other workshop models. Residency Five will enable a diverse community of playwrights to build bodies of work, and will provide them with a significant cash award, full health benefits and a stipend to attend theatre. Annie Baker, Will Eno, Katori Hall, Kenneth Lonergan and ReGina Taylor are the program's inaugural playwrights. The 2012 season will feature the World Premiere of Katori Hall's Hurt Village, directed by Patricia McGregor, the U.S. premiere of Will Eno's Title and Deed, directed by Judy Hegarty Lovett and the World Premiere of a new play by Kenneth Lonergan.

In addition, Signature announced its pledge to A Decade of Access, the next phase of the Signature Ticket Initiative, an unprecedented program which makes great theatre accessible to the broadest possible audience which Signature initiated in 2005. For the next ten years, Signature is committed to making all regularly-priced subscription and single tickets ($75) during the initial announced run available for $25. Signature is committed to raising the $20 Million in funds needed for A Decade of Access and is pursuing lead sponsorship. Seed funding has been provided by Margot Adams, Time Warner Inc., the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the New York City Council. Signature is also pleased to welcome the Ford Foundation as a new supporter of the Signature Ticket Initiative.

Subscriptions are on sale now by calling the Box Office at 212-244-PLAY or visiting the newly redesigned www.signaturetheatre.org.

"This new Signature Center marks an enormous threshold moment for our 20 year old company. For the past ten years we have envisioned a place where we can serve the full spectrum of our writing community and create an intersection of audience and artists where it is possible to celebrate the full potential of the Signature Theatre. This is a permanent home where with our diverse programming and our shared desire to be immersed in the best of ourselves, in our stories, we can flourish and grow," noted Signature's Founding Artistic Director James Houghton. "But access is essential. Exposure to the arts has never been more crucial than right now. We believe this commitment to a decade of access and the Signature Ticket Initiative makes it possible for everyone, regardless of economic barriers, to experience the necessary and crucial creative inspiration the arts has to offer. That is why we have made this commitment. Access for all is where it all begins."

"We are grateful for the support from the City of New York, our donors, Board and our staff and project team, all who are helping to make the Center possible. To open the doors of our new home to the public with this incredible group of writers, and to do so while offering $25 tickets for all of our productions for the next ten years, is truly a remarkable moment for our institution," said Signature's Executive Director Erika Mallin.

"I started with this company in 1994 when I was 24 and we were in a 99-seat black box theatre down on Bond Street. To establish a new ‘legacy institution' for New York is one of the most exciting experiences I've had in 20 years living in this city," noted Signature board member and actor Edward Norton, who serves as the Theatre's capital campaign chair. "I look at Signature's mission as part of a broader mission to institutionalize big parts of our cultural canon. Playwriting needs that platform as much as classical music or jazz or fine arts and there needs to be a place where we can examine what's happened in the American theatre in big chunks. That the Signature Ticket Initiative can expand the group of people who get to experience this is icing on the cake."

"The new Signature Center will be a vibrant hub of extraordinary artistic voices and thought-provoking productions, and its Decade of Access ticket program is a bold commitment to audiences that overcomes economic barriers to cultural participation," noted Luis Ubiñas, President of the Ford Foundation. "We applaud this significant achievement that will expand programming and introduce new initiatives while making these offerings available to many more people who otherwise would not be able to access them."

RESIDENCY ONE - Athol Fugard SERIES

BLOOD KNOT
Written and Directed by Athol Fugard
Previews begin January 31, 2012

Between patchwork walls in a one-room shack, two biracial South African brothers grapple with crippling poverty and lonely isolation. Fugard's revolutionary breakthrough play is a searing indictment of apartheid and one of his most celebrated works.

MY CHILDREN! MY AFRICA!
Written by Athol Fugard
Directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson
Previews begin May 1, 2012

Written in 1989 shortly before the end of apartheid, My Children! My Africa! presents an honest and unflinching portrait of a country on the brink of revolution, and is a testament to the power and potential of youth, hope, and ideas.

THE TRAIN DRIVER (NEW YORK PREMIERE)
Written and Directed by Athol Fugard
Previews begin August 14, 2012

Based on a true story, The Train Driver is a soulful exploration of guilt, suffering and the powerful bonds that grow between strangers.

LEGACY PROGRAM

Edward Albee'S LAYING AN EGG (WORLD PREMIERE)
Directed by David Esbjornson
Previews begin February 14, 2012

Faced with a domineering mother, an adoring husband and the damning conditions of her late father's will, a middle-aged woman renews her vow to get pregnant with chaotic results.

RESIDENCY FIVE

HURT VILLAGE (WORLD PREMIERE)
Written by Katori Hall
Directed by Patricia McGregor
Previews begin February 7, 2012

It's the end of a long summer in Hurt Village, a housing project in Memphis, Tennessee, and a government Hope Grant means relocation for many of the project's residents. A bold, gritty and devastating work, Hurt Village earned Katori Hall the prestigious Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, given annually to an outstanding female playwright.

TITLE AND DEED (U.S. PREMIERE)
Written by Will Eno
Directed by Judy Hegarty Lovett
Previews begin May 8, 2012

A nameless traveler from a far off place searches for connection and solace in an unknown country in this funny and sad meditation on mortality, loneliness, innocence, home, family, love, funerals, words, and the world. A provocative new work by Pulitzer Prize finalist and Horton Foote Prize winner Will Eno, whom The New York Times called "a Samuel Beckett for the Jon Stewart generation."

A NEW PLAY BY Kenneth Lonergan (WORLD PREMIERE)
Previews begin May 15, 2012

Kenneth Lonergan, acclaimed playwright (This is Our Youth, Lobby Hero, The Starry Messenger) and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter (You Can Count on Me), shares a new work with Signature audiences.

Athol Fugard has been working in the theatre as a playwright, director and actor in South Africa, England and the United States for over fifty years. Earlier this year, he received a Lifetime Achievement Tony Award at the 2011 ceremony. In November 2010, he was the inaugural Humanitas Visiting Professor of Drama at Oxford University. His latest play The Bird Watchers premiered this year at The Fugard Theatre in Cape Town. Last year The Train Driver, featuring Sean Taylor and Owen Sejake, transferred to The Hampstead Theatre in London for a critically acclaimed run. His plays include: No-Good Friday, Nongogo, Blood Knot, Hello and Goodbye, People are Living There, Boesman and Lena, Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act, Sizwe Banzi is Dead, Dimetos, The Island, A Lesson From Aloes, ‘Master Harold' ...and the Boys, The Road to Mecca, A Place With the Pigs, My Children! My Africa!, Playland, Valley Song, The Captain's Tiger, Sorrows and Rejoicings, Exits and Entrances, Victory, Coming Home, The Train Driver and The Bird Watchers.

Edward Albee was born on March 12, 1928, and began writing plays 30 years later. His plays include The Zoo Story (1958), The Death of Bessie Smith (1959), The Sandbox (1959), The American Dream (1960), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1961-62, Tony Award), Tiny Alice (1964), A Delicate Balance (1966, Pulitzer Prize; 1996, Tony Award), All Over (1971), Seascape (1974, Pulitzer Prize), Listening (1975), Counting the Ways (1975), The Lady from Dubuque (1977-78), The Man Who Had Three Arms (1981), Finding the Sun (1982), Marriage Play (1986-87), Three Tall Women (1991, Pulitzer Prize), Fragments (1993), The Play About the Baby (1997), The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? (2000, 2002 Tony Award), Occupant (2001), Peter and Jerry (Act 1, Homelife; Act 2, The Zoo Story) (2004), and Me, Myself and I (2007). He is a member of the Dramatists Guild Council, and President of The Edward F. Albee Foundation. Mr. Albee was awarded the Gold Medal in Drama from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1980. In 1996 he received the Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts. In 2005, he was awarded a special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement. He was Signature's 2007-2008 Legacy Playwright and 1993-1994 Playwright-in-Residence.

Will Eno's critically acclaimed Middletown (Horton Foote Prize for Promising New American Play, 2010) received its world premiere in winter 2010 at the Vineyard Theatre, directed by Ken Rus Schmoll and was subsequently produced in June 2011 at Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago. His play Tragedy: a tragedy received its US premiere at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in 2008 and his collection of short plays entitled Oh, The Humanity and other exclamations world premiered at The Flea Theater starring Marisa Tomei and Brian Hutchison. Will's internationally heralded play Thom Pain (based on nothing) had a successful year long run at the DR2 in New York, produced by Bob Boyett and Daryl Roth; following a sold out run at the 2004 International Edinburgh Festival (Fringe First Award and the Herald Angel Award) and a subsequent transfer to the Soho Theatre in London. The play is now being produced across the United States, as well as Brazil, Italy, Germany, France, Norway, Denmark, Israel, Mexico and other countries. Thom Pain (based on nothing) was a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in Drama. Will's play The Flu Season received the 2004 Oppenheimer Award for the best debut production in New York by an American playwright. Will's plays have been produced by the Gate Theatre, the SOHO Theatre and BBC Radio, in London; the Rude Mechanicals Theater Company and Naked Angels, in New York. His plays are published by Oberon Books and TCG; and have appeared in Harper's, The Antioch Review, The Quarterly and Best Ten-Minute Plays for Two Actors. Will has been commissioned by The National Theatre, London and Yale Repertory Theatre. He is a Helen Merrill Playwriting Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, an Edward F. Albee Foundation Fellow, and was awarded the first-ever Marian Seldes/Garson Kanin Fellowship by the Theater Hall of Fame, as well as the Alfred Hodder Fellowship at Princeton. Will Eno lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Katori Hall's plays include The Mountaintop, which was produced to great acclaim at London's Theatre 503 and transferred to Trafalgar Studios in London's West End, earning her an Olivier Award for Best New Play. The play opens on Broadway on October 13 at the Jacobs Theatre. Other plays include Hoodoo Love, which was produced Off-Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theatre, Remembrance, Hurt Village, Saturday Night/Sunday Morning, WHADDABLOODCLOT!?!?, The Hope Well and Pussy Valley. Her awards include a Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, Lark Play Development Playwrights of New York (PONY) Fellowship, Kate NeAl Kinley Fellowship, two Lecompte du Nouy Prizes from Lincoln Center, Fellowship of Southern Writers Bryan Family Award in Drama, NYFA Fellowship, and the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award. Hall was shortlisted for the London Evening Standard Most Promising Playwright Award and received the Otis Guernsey New Voices Playwriting Award from the William Inge Theatre Festival. She is proud to be an Arena Stage resident playwright supported by the American Voices New Play Institute. She was inducted into the Fellowship of Southern Writers in April 2011.

Kenneth Lonergan has been represented in New York by The Waverly Gallery (Williamstown Theatre Festival, Promenade, 2001 Pulitzer Prize Finalist), This Is Our Youth (New Group, Second Stage, Drama Desk Best Play nominee, Encore Magazine Taking Off Award) and Lobby Hero (nominated for the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play and two Outer Critics Circle Awards for Outstanding Off-Broadway Play and the John Gassner Playwriting Award). His work has also been performed in New York at Naked Angels, Second Stage, The Atlantic Theater Company and H.B. Playwrights Foundation; in Los Angeles at The Coast Theatre and the Act I One Act Play Festival; and in London at The Royal Court Theatre and The Battersea Playhouse. His film You Can Count on Me, which he wrote and directed, shared the Sundance 2000 Grand Jury prize and won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award and the NY Film Critics Circle, L.A. Film Critics Circle, Writers Guild of America and National Board of Review awards for Best Screenplay of 2001, two AFI awards for Best Film and Best New Writer and The Sutherland Trophy at the London Film Festival. He was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

Founded in 1991 by James Houghton, Signature Theatre Company exists to honor and celebrate the playwright. Signature makes an extended commitment to a playwright's body of work, and during this journey, the writer is engaged in every aspect of the creative process. Signature is the first theatre company to devote an entire season to the work of a single playwright, including re-examinations of past writings as well as New York and world premieres. By championing in-depth explorations of a living playwright's body of work, the Company delivers an intimate and immersive journey into the playwright's singular vision.

Signature has presented entire seasons of the work of Edward Albee, Lee Blessing, Horton Foote, Maria Irene Fornes, John Guare, Bill Irwin, Adrienne Kennedy, Tony Kushner, Romulus Linney, Charles Mee, Arthur Miller, the Negro Ensemble Company, Sam Shepard, Paula Vogel, August Wilson and Lanford Wilson. Signature remains deeply committed to season-long residencies, and during the company's tenth and fifteenth anniversaries, Signature introduced the Legacy Program. The Legacy Program invites past Playwrights-in-Residence back to Signature through two series: the Signature Series, which presents "signature," or more well-known works; and the Premiere Series, which presents New York and world premieres.

In pursuit of its goal to build new audiences and remove the price barrier to those interested in experiencing live theatre, Signature has provided $20 tickets to all of its productions since 2005 through its groundbreaking Signature Ticket Initiative. Providing unprecedented access to world class theatre, this innovative program has served as a model for theatres and performing arts organizations across the country. The program's next phase, A Decade of Access, will continue for the next ten years, making all regularly-priced single tickets ($75) during the initial announced run available for $25. Signature is committed to raising the funds needed for A Decade of Access and continues to pursue lead corporate sponsorship. Generous seed support has been provided by Marma Foundation,The Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the New York City Council.

Signature, its productions and its resident writers have been recognized with a Pulitzer Prize, fourteen Lucille Lortel Awards, sixteen Obie Awards, six Drama Desk Awards and twenty-two AUDELCO Awards, among many other distinctions. The National Theatre Conference recognized the company as the 2003 Outstanding National Theatre of the Year. For more information on Signature please visit us on-line at signaturetheatre.org.

Opening in February 2012, Signature Center is the new, permanent home of Signature Theatre Company. Spanning an entire city block at 42nd Street between Dyer and 10th Avenue, the Frank Gehry-designed Signature Center will feature three intimate theatres, a Studio Theatre, rehearsal studio, and a public café and bookstore and will serve as both a theatre community hub and neighborhood destination. Working hand-in-hand with Signature leadership and architect of record H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture LLC, Gehry's design has been carefully calibrated to foster interaction among playwrights, artistic collaborators and the public. Signature Center will allow the 20-year old Company, critically acclaimed for its programs that celebrate the playwright's body of work, to expand and enhance its programming, introduce new initiatives, and build audiences.

At Signature Center, the Company's programming will include: Residency One, the continuation of Signature's core program which provides audiences with an immersive exploration of the work of a singular playwright; Residency Five, a new artistic initiative which provides five-year residencies for multiple playwrights to support the creation and staging of new work; and the Legacy Program, which honors the lifetime achievement of artists who have previously been in residence at Signature with stagings of new plays and signature works. Signature Center will serve as the artistic home for as many as 9 playwrights at any one time, fostering a dynamic creative community where playwrights will engage directly with audiences and one another. More information on Signature Center and Signature Theatre Company's expanded programming can be found at www.signaturecenter.org.
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