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Signature Theatre's New Season Will Include Works by Suzan-Lori Parks, Will Eno, Annie Baker & More!

Signature Theatre (James Houghton, Founding Artistic Director; Erika Mallin, Executive Director) just announced the 2016-17 Season at the company's Frank Gehry-designed Pershing Square Signature Center (480 West 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues). Signature will continue the groundbreaking Signature Ticket Initiative: A Generation of Access, its one-of-a-kind commitment to providing subsidized, affordable tickets to every seat at every performance during a production's regular run. All tickets will be $30 for the 2016-17 Season and for the next 5 years.

As previously announced, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks is the 2016-17 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. The Residency One: Suzan-Lori Parks Series will feature The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World, directed byLileana Blain-Cruz, and Venus, directed by Lear deBessonet. In addition, Signature will present The Red Letter Plays: In the Blood and Fucking A during the 2017-18 Season. These plays, directed by Jo Bonney, will be presented in repertory for the first time, and are available as part of a 2016-17 subscription package.

Signature's Legacy Program, a homecoming for past Signature Playwrights-in-Residence, will feature "Master Harold" ... and the boys, written & directed by Athol Fugard, who was the Residency One playwright during Signature's Inaugural Season at The Pershing Square Signature Center in 2012.

As part of the Residency Five program, the 2016-17 Season will feature the world premieres of Everybody byBranden Jacobs-Jenkins, directed by Lila Neugebauer, a new play by Will Eno and The Antipodes byAnnie Baker, also directed by Lila Neugebauer. Residency Five is 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 premieres at The Pershing Square Signature Center. The program enables a diverse community of playwrights to build bodies of work, and provides them with a significant cash award, health benefits and a stipend to attend theatre. Annie Baker, Martha Clarke, Will Eno, Katori Hall, Quiara Alegría Hudes, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Lisa Kron, Kenneth Lonergan andRegina Taylor are the program's current playwrights.

Founding Artistic Director James Houghton says, "I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you for supporting Signature and all of the remarkable artists who have worked with us over the past 25 years. It has been a real privilege. I am stepping down at the end of this season, and the 2016-17 Season is the final one I have programmed; I believe it represents a thrillingly diverse mix of new and revisited work from our outstanding family of writers. I am pleased to welcome Signature's next Artistic Director, the wonderful Paige Evans, who will lead our fantastic team in bringing this work to life."

Paige Evans, who joins Signature as Artistic Director beginning July 1, says, "Jim Houghton has put together a terrific upcoming season for Signature. I'm honored to join Erika Mallin and the Board of Trustees in leading the next chapter of this very special company that Jim has built, and can't wait to get to work with this exceptionally talented and exciting group of artists."

Signature's current 2015-16 Season continues with Daphne's Dive by Quiara Alegría Hudes (beginning performances on April 26, 2016) and Signature Plays featuring Edward Albee's The Sandbox, María Irene Fornés' Drowning and Adrienne Kennedy's Funnyhouse of a Negro (beginning performances on May 3, 2016).

Subscriptions to the 2016-17 Season are on sale now by calling Ticket Services at 212-244-7529 (Tues. - Sun.,11am - 6pm) or visiting www.signaturetheatre.org. Tickets to the initial runs of all Signature productions at The Pershing Square Signature Center are $30, part of the groundbreaking Signature Ticket Initiative: A Generation of Access, a program that guarantees affordable and accessible tickets to every Signature production through 2031. Serving as a model for theatres and performing arts organizations across the country, the Initiative was founded in 2005 and is made possible by lead partner The Pershing Square Foundation. Additional support provided by the Howard Gilman Foundation, Margot Adams, Rhoda Herrick and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

2016-17 SEASON OVERVIEW

RESIDENCY ONE

The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World

By Suzan-Lori Parks

Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz

Begins October 25, 2016 | The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre

A woman tries to feed her husband a fried drumstick. Dragons roam a flat earth. The last Black man in the whole entire world dies again. And again. Careening through memory and language, Parks explores and explodes archetypes of Black America with piercing insight and raucous comedy. A riotous theatrical event, The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World hums with the heartbeat of improvisational jazz.

Venus

By Suzan-Lori Parks

Directed by Lear deBessonet

Begins April 25, 2017 | The Irene Diamond Stage

Leaving her home in southern Africa for a better life, Saartjie Baartman became a star on the 19thCentury London freak show circuit for the size of her posterior. This Obie Award-winning play gives vibrant life to the story of Baartman's journey to London, her rise to fame as the "Hottentot Venus" and her eventual love affair with a French scientist. Inspired by the true story of Baartman, Venus is a wild carnival, bursting with humor and heart while examining the paradox of love.

The Red Letter Plays: In the Blood and Fucking A

By Suzan-Lori Parks

Directed by Jo Bonney

The Red Letter Plays will be presented as part of the 2017-18 Signature season.

Remixing The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne's seminal masterpiece, The Red Letter Plays tear open notions of gender and hypocrisy with poetic honesty and exhilarating wit. In the Blood's Hester La Negrita is a penniless mother of five condemned by the very men who loved her. Fucking A's Hester Smith is an abortionist, forced to ply her trade to save her own son. Performed together for the first time, with a shared cast and director, the two plays form a thrilling and powerful indictment of the way we live now.

LEGACY PROGRAM

"Master Harold" ... and the boys

Written and Directed by Athol Fugard

Begins October 18, 2016 | The Irene Diamond Stage

In a small tea shop in South Africa, two black men and a young white boy joke and dance together, defying the brutalities of apartheid through their joyous love. But festering issues of family, race, and power are not so easy to ignore, and a single phone call can trigger catastrophe. Winner of the Drama Desk and London Evening Standard Awards for Best Play, "Master Harold" ... and the boys reveals the profound personal consequences of oppression.

RESIDENCY FIVE

Everybody
(World Premiere)

By Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Directed by Lila Neugebauer
Begins January 31, 2017 | The Irene Diamond Stage

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, who The New York Times calls "one of this country's most original and illuminating writers," comes back to Signature for the second production of his residency with the world premiere of Everybody. Directed by Lila Neugebauer, this modern riff on one of the oldest plays in the English language promises to be just as unique as Gloria, An Octoroon and the award-winning Signature production of Appropriate.

A New Play by Will Eno
(World Premiere)

Begins February 7, 2017 | The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre

From Thom Pain to The Realistic Joneses, Drama Desk and Obie Award-winner Will Eno has proven to be a singular voice in the American theatre, writing plays with a style The New York Times has called "formally inventive, verbally dexterous...and excruciatingly truthful." Eno completes his Signature residency with a world premiere production, which follows the extended Signature runs of Title and Deed and The Open House.

The Antipodes
(World Premiere)

By Annie Baker
Directed by Lila Neugebauer
Begins April 4, 2017 | The Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre

Pulitzer Prize-winner Annie Baker, who The New York Times has called "one of the freshest and most talented dramatists to emerge Off Broadway in the past decade," returns for the second production of her Signature residency with a world premiere play, directed by Lila Neugebauer. The Antipodes followsJohn, her insightful, funny and mysterious first play at Signature, which sold out an extended run and appeared on the Top 10 lists of The New York Times, New York Magazine and Time Magazine, among others.

Special thanks to The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust for supporting the Residency Five Program. Additional support for Residency Five provided by Time Warner Foundation, Inc.

The Residency Five Playwright Award is generously supported by the Genesis Foundation.


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