King Hedley Extends at Signature Theatre Company

Signature Theatre Company (James Houghton, Founding Artistic Director; Kathryn M. Lipuma, Executive Director) announced today that it would extend August Wilson's KING HEDLEY II one additional week since the originally scheduled run has been sold-out for weeks.  Directed by Derrick Sanders, KING HEDLEY II began previews on Tuesday, February 20 with an official press opening on Sunday, March 11 at Signature Theatre Company's Peter Norton Space (555 W. 42nd St.).

The $15 ticket initiative, made possible by the lead sponsorship of Time Warner Inc., only applies to the originally scheduled run, February 20-April 15. Tickets for the extension week will be $65.

Set in a backyard in the decaying Hill District of Pittsburgh, King Hedley II follows the characters created by August Wilson in Seven Guitars. A woman is tormented by a secret she has kept for 36 years, while her only son returns home after serving time for murder to find a neighborhood riddled with crime, poverty and broken families. King's epic struggle to survive is at the center of this poetic portrayal of life in the inner city during the 1980's.

The cast for KING HEDLEY II features Cherise Boothe as Tonya (Blues for an Alabama Sky/Berkshire Theatre Festival), Lynda Gravatt as Ruby (Intimate Apparel/Roundabout Theatre Company), Stephen McKinley Henderson as Elmore (Seven Guitars/Signature Theatre Company), Russell Hornsby as King (Jitney/Second Stage Theatre), Curtis McClarin as Mister (Drowning Crow/Manhattan Theatre Club) and Lou Myers as Stool Pigeon (The Piano Lesson/Broadway).

KING HEDLEY II has scenic design by David Gallo; costumes by Reggie Ray; lights by Thom Weaver; and sound by Jill BC DuBoff. Todd Kreidler and Constanza Romero are Associate Artists for this production.

August Wilson (April 27, 1945 - October 2, 2005). August Wilson authored Gem of the Ocean, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars, Fences, Two Trains Running, Jitney, King Hedley II, and Radio Golf. These works explore the heritage and experience of African Americans, decade-by-decade, over the course of the twentieth century. Mr. Wilson's plays have been produced at regional theatres across the country and all over the world, as well as on Broadway. In 2003, Mr. Wilson made his professional stage debut in his one-man show, How I Learned What I Learned. Mr. Wilson's works garnered many awards, including Pulitzer Prizes for Fences (1987); and for The Piano Lesson (1990); a Tony Award for Fences; Great Britain's Olivier Award for Jitney; as well as seven New York Drama Critics Circle Awards for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Fences, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, The Piano Lesson, Two Trains Running, Seven Guitars, and Jitney. Additionally, the cast recording of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom received a 1985 Grammy Award, and Mr. Wilson received a 1995 Emmy Award nomination for his screenplay adaptation of The Piano Lesson. Mr. Wilson's early works included the one-act plays: The Janitor, Recycle, The Coldest Day of the Year, Malcolm X, The Homecoming and the musical satire Black Bart and the Sacred Hills.

Mr. Wilson received many fellowships and awards, including Rockefeller and Guggenheim Fellowships in Playwriting, the Whiting Writers Award, 2003 Heinz Award, was awarded a 1999 National Humanities Medal by the President of the United States, and received numerous honorary degrees from colleges and universities, as well as the only high school diploma ever issued by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. He was an alumnus of New Dramatists, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a 1995 inductee into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and on October 16, 2005 Broadway named the theatre located at 245 West 52nd Street "The August Wilson Theatre."

Mr. Wilson was born and raised in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and lived in Seattle, Washington at the time of his death. He is immediately survived by his two daughters, Sakina Ansari and Azula Carmen Wilson, and his wife, costume designer Constanza Romero.

Derrick Sanders (Director) is Founding Artistic Director of Congo Square Theatre Company. His 2005 staging of the company's production of Seven Guitars garnered three Jeff Awards for Best Production, Direction and Ensemble. Other directing credits with Congo Square Theatre Company include Chadwick Boseman's Jeff nominated world premiere Deep Azure, and Javon Johnson's The House That Jack Built, and Ali, for which he received a Black Theatre Alliance Award for direction. Additional directing credits include Why Black Men Play Basketball (ETA Creative Arts Theatre Co.), The Pawn and Next Stop Ellipse (International Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa), A Cryin' Shame (Kuntu Rep.), Kiwi Black (2002 Theodore Ward Playwriting winner), and The Island. Sanders has appeared in several Congo Square productions including A Soldier's Play, Playboy of the West Indies and the company's inaugural production of Wilson's The Piano Lesson. Sanders recently served as Assistant Director on the Goodman Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, Huntington Theatre Company and the Broadway staging of August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean.

Signature Theatre Company was founded in 1991 by Artistic Director James Houghton and is the first theatre in the United States dedicated to season-long explorations of a single-living-playwright's body of work. The company's first nine seasons presented the works of Romulus Linney, Lee Blessing, Edward Albee, Horton Foote, Adrienne Kennedy, Sam Shepard, Arthur Miller, John Guare and Maria Irene Fornes. The 10th Anniversary of Signature Theatre Company -- its 2000-02 All-Premiere Celebration -- featured new works from a selection of the theatre's distinguished past Playwrights-in-Residence. The 2002-03 Season was dedicated to Lanford Wilson, the 2003-04 Season to Bill Irwin, and the 2004-05 Season to Paula Vogel. The first half of the 15th Anniversary (2005-2006) featured The Trip to Bountiful by Horton Foote, Landscape of the Body by John Guare, as well as a workshop and public staged reading of Adrienne Kennedy's adaptation of Madame Bovary. The second half of the Anniversary Celebration features three works by the late August Wilson, who was to be Signature's thirteenth Playwright-in-Residence. As a direct result of the company's work, Signature, its productions and its resident writers have been recognized with the Pulitzer Prize, Lucille Lortel Awards, OBIE Awards and Drama Desk Awards, among many other distinctions. The National Theatre Conference recognized the company as the 2003 Outstanding National Theatre of the Year.

Signature Theatre Company, along with the Joyce International Dance Center, has been designated to create a new performing arts center at the World Trade Center site to be designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry. At Signature Center, the theatre will expand its programming through the creation of three distinct residency programs that reflect the company's core mission to develop and explore the work of an individual playwright.

Sponsorship Information

Signature's 15th Anniversary $15 Ticket Initiative and The August Wilson Series are made possible by the lead sponsorship of Time Warner Inc.

Target is a proud sponsor of The August Wilson Series. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. ' American Express Company is proud to sponsor KING HEDLEY II.

Additional funding for Anniversary programming has been provided by Altria Group, Inc., The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, The Ford Foundation, The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Special thanks to The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust for supporting new American plays at Signature Theatre Company. WNYC is the media sponsor of Signature Theatre Company.

The 15th Anniversary Season is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency.

Signature Theatre COMPANY's Peter Norton Space is located at 555 W. 42nd Street (between 10th and 11th Avenues). KING HEDLEY II runs February 20-April 22. All tickets for the originally scheduled run of KING HEDLEY II are $15. The extension week, April 16-22, will be $65.

Performance schedule is Tuesdays at 7 PM; Wednesdays-Fridays at 8 PM; Saturdays at 2 PM and 8 PM; and Sundays at 2 PM and 7 PM. There will be an additional Wednesday matinee on Wed., April 18 at 2 PM and no evening performance on Sunday, April 22 at 7 PM. Post performance talkbacks are scheduled for March 13, 20, 27 and April 10. For single ticket information, please call (212) 244-PLAY (7529) or visit www.signaturetheatre.org.



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