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Works by Anna Deavere Smith, Dominique Morisseau & More Featured in Signature Theatre's 2021-2022 Season

The season will also feature world premiere plays from Annie Baker, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, and Samuel D. Hunter.

Works by Anna Deavere Smith, Dominique Morisseau & More Featured in Signature Theatre's 2021-2022 Season

Signature Theatre has announced today that their 2021-22 Season will feature five works by five Resident Playwrights, including a production by Signature's Residency 1 playwright Anna Deavere Smith, world premiere plays from Residency 5 playwrights Annie Baker, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Samuel D. Hunter, and a New York premiere by Dominique Morisseau. Signature will also continue SigSpace virtually with new projects with Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Samuel D. Hunter, The Mad Ones, Dominique Morisseau and Lynn Nottage. Signature Theatre's 2021-22 Season is sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies. The Signature Ticket Initiative: A Generation of Access is sponsored by Lead Partner Pershing Square Foundation.

Obie, Lortel and MacArthur Award-winner Anna Deavere Smith continues her Residency 1 with Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, which was originally scheduled for Spring 2020 and postponed after the COVID-19 pandemic hit New York City. This play is the second of three plays in her residency, following Signature's 2019-20 Season's acclaimed production of Fires in the Mirror.

From the groundbreaking Residency 5 program, which guarantees three productions of new plays by each resident playwright, come four new plays. These plays include the rescheduled New York premiere of Confederates by MacArthur Fellow Dominique Morisseau, directed by Kamilah Forbes, and the world premieres of On the Uses of Pain for Life written and directed by Pulitzer Prize-winner Annie Baker for the final play of her residency, A Case for the Existence of God by MacArthur Fellow Samuel D. Hunter in the first play of his residency, directed by Tony award-winner David Cromer, and Grass written and directed by MacArthur Fellow and Pulitzer Prize finalist Branden Jacobs-Jenkins for the final play of his residency. The program includes a diverse community of playwrights who are supported by Signature as they build their bodies of work, and offers writers commission support, a private workspace, health insurance reimbursements and a stipend to attend theatre. In addition to this season's four Resident Playwrights, the program's other current Resident Playwrights are Martha Clarke, Quiara Alegría Hudes, The Mad Ones, Dave Malloy and Lauren Yee.

Artistic Director Paige Evans said, "It feels especially exciting to announce the artists who will usher in Signature's 30th Anniversary Season. Anna Deavere Smith and Dominique Morisseau will return with postponed productions that are even more timely now, as they investigate racial and cultural inequities that continue to divide our nation. I'm also thrilled to welcome back the formidable Annie Baker and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, both as playwrights and directors of the third plays in their Signature residencies. And we're delighted to premiere a captivating and deeply compassionate play by Samuel D. Hunter. We can't wait to share their work with all of you!"

Executive Director Harold Wolpert said, "While theatre as we once knew it continues to undergo massive changes, Signature's mission remains the same. We will always live up to our commitment to our Resident Playwrights while doing everything in our power to make sure their work is accessible to all. We eagerly await the day it is safe to reopen The Pershing Square Signature Center and welcome you all, our community, back through our doors to a more just and equitable Signature for this incredible season and to see our playwrights shine."

Since the pandemic began and theaters across the nation were shuttered, Signature has continued connecting with audiences by pivoting to virtual programming with SigSpace. Signature will continue SigSpace programming with exciting new projects with Signature Resident Writers Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Quiara Alegría Hudes, Samuel D. Hunter, The Mad Ones, Dominique Morisseau and Lynn Nottage. Slated to arrive around Spring and Summer of 2021, these events will offer virtual access and one will also offer access with physical distancing at The Pershing Square Signature Center.

SigSpace, which launched in 2020 with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, brings artistic programming to the Center's public spaces and sustains its lobby as a free public workspace and social hub for New York City artists. Recent SigSpace virtual events have included SigSpace Summits with artists and field experts, Arts Lunch artist reunions, workshops and affinity events, and a virtual reunion reading of Suzan-Lori Parks' The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World AKA the Negro Book of the Dead.

Signature Ticket Initiative: A Generation of Access is a groundbreaking program which guarantees subsidized tickets to every production through 2032. 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 with additional support provided by the Jerome L. Greene Foundation, Margot Adams, The SHS Foundation, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

Dates for the 2021-22 Season productions, on sale dates and SigSpace programming will be announced at a later time. All 2021-22 Season performances will take place at the company's Frank Gehry-designed Pershing Square Signature Center (480 West 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues).

For more information about the 2021-22 Season and SigSpace visit


On the Uses of Pain for Life

World Premiere

Written and Directed by Annie Baker

The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre

Residency 5

A play about no end in sight. After the critically acclaimed premiere of John and sold-out run of The Antipodes, Pulitzer Prize-winner Annie Baker returns with the final play of her Signature Residency, directing a new work that tackles the eros of illness.

Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992

Conceived, Written and Originally Performed by Anna Deavere Smith

Directed by Taibi Magar

The Irene Diamond Stage

Residency 1

One verdict can change the course of history. The news of the police officers' acquittal in Rodney King's police brutality case reverberated throughout the streets of Los Angeles. Variously called a "riot, a revolution, or a social explosion," the events that followed the verdict drew worldwide attention. Playwright, actor and scholar Anna Deavere Smith responded artistically by dissecting the anatomy of the unrest. She interviewed over 350 Los Angelinos in preparation for the performance. Declared a "rich, panoramic canvas of a national trauma" by The New York Times, Smith's transformative study of the 1992 L.A. riots reveals the fault lines that set the city ablaze. Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 is equal parts meticulously researched reportage and stirring cry for reform.

A Case for the Existence of God

World Premiere

Written by Samuel D. Hunter

Directed by David Cromer

The Irene Diamond Stage

Residency 5

Inside a cubicle in a small office in southern Idaho, two men struggle to balance the confounding terms on a loan. In a departure from his recent string of acclaimed epics, MacArthur Fellow Samuel D. Hunter launches his residency with this thoughtful meditation on human resilience, directed by David Cromer (Tony winner, The Band's Visit).


New York Premiere

Written by Dominique Morisseau

Directed by Kamilah Forbes

The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre

Residency 5

Sarah, a savvy slave turned Union spy, and Sandra, a brilliant professor in a modern-day private university, are facing similar struggles, even though they live over a century apart. This world premiere by MacArthur Genius Fellow Dominique Morisseau, directed by Kamilah Forbes (By the Way, Meet Vera Stark), leaps through time in order to trace the identities of these two black American women and explore the reins their racial and gender bias still hold on American educational systems today.


World Premiere

Written and Directed by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins

The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre

Residency 5

A nightmare eviction leaves an out-of-work actor with nowhere to go but his father's house on an island in southeast Texas. But in order to get there-and not get shot-he's going to have to let his mother drive. Hilarity ensues. Or doesn't. In either case, History narrates. Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (Appropriate, Everybody) culminates his Signature residency as playwright and director of this new play.


Annie Baker's other plays include The Antipodes (Signature Theatre/National Theatre), John (Signature Theatre/National Theatre, Obie Award), The Flick (Playwrights Horizons/Barrow Street/National Theatre, Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Hull-Warriner Award, Susan Smith Blackburn Award, Olivier Nomination), Circle Mirror Transformation (Playwrights Horizons/Royal Court, Obie Award and Critics Circle Award), The Aliens (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Obie Award and Critics Circle Award) and an adaptation of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya at Soho Rep, for which she also designed the costumes. Recent honors include a MacArthur Fellowship, Guggenheim Fellowship, Steinberg Playwriting Award, American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, and the Cullman Fellowship at the New York Public Library. In 2019 she and set designer Chloe Lamford co-directed the European premiere of The Antipodes at The National Theatre. She is an Associate Professor of Practice at the MFA in Playwriting Program at the University of Texas, Austin.

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins's plays include Girls, Everybody, War, Gloria, Appropriate, An Octoroon and Neighbors. A Residency 5 playwright at Signature Theatre and a 2020 Guggenheim fellow, his honors include a USA Artists fellowship, the Charles Wintour Award, the MacArthur fellowship, the Windham-Campbell Prize for Drama, the Steinberg Playwriting Award, and the inaugural Tennessee Williams Award. A proud member of the Dramatists Guild council, he serves on the boards of Soho Rep and the Dramatists Guild Foundation and is an Associate Professor of Practice at the University of Texas at Austin.

Samuel D. Hunter's plays include The Whale (Drama Desk Award, Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play, GLAAD Media Award, Drama League and Outer Critics Circle nominations for Best Play), Greater Clements (Drama Desk Nomination for Best Play, Outer Critics Circle Honoree) Lewiston/Clarkston (Drama Desk nomination for Best Play), A Bright New Boise (Obie Award, Drama Desk nomination for Best Play), The Few, A Great Wilderness, Rest, Pocatello, The Healing, and The Harvest, among others. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, a Whiting Writers Award, an Otis Guernsey New Voices Award, the Sky Cooper Prize, the PONY/Lark Fellowship, and an honorary doctorate from the University of Idaho. His plays have been produced in New York at Lincoln Center Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, LCT3, Clubbed Thumb, and Page 73, and at such theaters as Seattle Rep, Theatre Royal Bath, South Coast Rep, Victory Gardens, Williamstown Theater Festival, The Old Globe, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Denver Center Theatre Company, Dallas Theater Center, Long Wharf Theatre, and elsewhere. His work has been developed at the O'Neill Playwrights Conference, the Ojai Playwrights Conference, Seven Devils, and PlayPenn. Two published anthologies of his work are available from TCG books. He is a member of New Dramatists, an Ensemble Playwright at Victory Gardens, and is a current Resident Playwright at the Signature Theater in New York. A native of northern Idaho, Sam lives in NYC. He holds degrees in playwriting from NYU, The Iowa Playwrights Workshop, and Juilliard.

Dominique Morisseau is the author of The Detroit Project (A 3-Play Cycle) which includes the following plays: Skeleton Crew (Atlantic Theater Company), Paradise Blue (Signature Theatre), and Detroit '67 (Public Theater, Classical Theatre of Harlem and NBT). Additional plays include: Pipeline (Lincoln Center Theatre), Sunset Baby (LAByrinth Theatre); Blood at the Root(National Black Theatre) and Follow Me To Nellie's (Premiere Stages). She is also the TONY nominated book writer on the new Broadway musical Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of the Temptations (Imperial Theatre). Dominique is alumna of The Public Theater Emerging Writer's Group, Women's Project Lab, and Lark Playwrights Workshop and has developed work at Sundance Lab, Williamstown Theatre Festival and Eugene O'Neil Playwrights Conference. She most recently served as Co-Producer on the Showtime series "Shameless" (3 seasons). Additional awards include: Spirit of Detroit Award, PoNY Fellowship, Sky-Cooper Prize, TEER Trailblazer Award, Steinberg Playwright Award, Audelco Awards, NBFT August Wilson Playwriting Award, Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama, OBIE Award (2), Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellowship, Variety's Women of Impact for 2017-18, and a recent MacArthur Genius Grant Fellow.

Anna Deavere Smith is an actress, playwright, teacher, and author. She is credited with having created a new form of theater. Smith's work combines the journalistic technique of interviewing her subjects with the art of interpreting their words through performance. President Obama awarded Smith the National Humanities Medal in 2013. Additional honors include the prestigious MacArthur "Genius Grant" Fellowship, The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize for achievement in the arts, the George Polk Career Award in Journalism, two Tony nominations and several honorary degrees. She was runner up for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. Smith has created over fifteen one-person shows based on hundreds of interviews. Her most recent play, Notes from the Field, looks at the vulnerability of youth, inequality, the criminal justice system, and contemporary activism. The New York Times named it among The Best Theater of 2016 and Time magazine named it one of the Top 10 Plays of that year. In 2018, HBO premiered the film version of Notes from the Field. Smith's play Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 was recently named one of the best plays of the last twenty-five years by The New York Times. Smith currently appears on the hit television show "Black-ish." Previously she appeared in "For the People," "Nurse Jackie" and "The West Wing". Films include The American President, Philadelphia and Rachel Getting Married. She is a University Professor at Tisch School of the Arts at NYU.

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