Works by Lynn Nottage, World Premiere from Dave Malloy and More Announced for Signature's 2018-19 Season
The 2018-19 Signature Theatre Season will feature six works by five resident playwrights, including two productions by Signature's new Residency 1 playwright, Lynn Nottage, and a world premiere musical from Signature's first musical theatre writer-in-residence Dave Malloy, the company announced today. All performances will take place at the company's Frank Gehry-designed Pershing Square Signature Center. Signature is proud to 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 $35 for the 2018-19 Season.
Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynn Nottage (Ruined, Sweat) will join Signature as the Residency 1 playwright in the 2018-19 Season. Residency 1 is Signature's core Playwright-in-Residence program that produces three plays by one accomplished writer over the course of one year. Signature will produce two of Nottage's comedies - Fabulation, or The Re-Education of Undine, directed by Obie Award-winner Lileana Blain-Cruz, and By the Way, Meet Vera Stark, directed by Kamilah Forbes. A new play by Nottage will be produced during the 2019-20 Season.
Signature is happy to welcome its first musical theatre writer-in-residence, Tony Award-nominee Dave Malloy (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812), to the Residency 5 program. Signature will produce the world premiere of Malloy's Octet, directed by Annie Tippe. The groundbreaking Residency 5 program provides playwrights with exceptional resources for five years, so they can create new work, and guarantees each playwright a minimum of three productions at The Pershing Square Signature Center. The program supports a diverse community of playwrights as they build bodies of work, and provides them with a significant cash award, health benefits and a stipend to attend theatre. In addition to Mr. Malloy, the program's current playwrights include Annie Baker, Martha Clarke, Katori Hall, Quiara Alegría Hudes, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, and Dominique Morisseau.
Signature's Legacy Program, a homecoming for past Signature Playwrights-in-Residence, will feature productions from three Legacy playwrights. Will Eno, the first playwright to complete Signature's Residency 5 program, returns to Signature for his first Legacy production, Thom Pain (based on nothing), directed by Obie Award-winner Oliver Butler. Athol Fugard, who has made Signature his American home since being the first Residency 1 playwright at the Center, returns with Boesman and Lena. And, a new production of Curse of the Starving Class, directed by Terry Kinney, will honor the memory of Legacy playwright Sam Shepard, who passed away in 2017.
Artistic Director Paige Evans says, "I'm so happy to be bringing Lynn Nottage and Dave Malloy to Signature next season. Lynn is known for tackling weighty subjects in her work, but she also has a wonderful sense of humor, so it's terrific to start her Residency 1 here next season with two comedies. And with Dave, we'll be producing Signature's first full-fledged musical! We'll also travel from an existential no-man's land to the South African wastelands and on to the American Southwest through the beautiful writing of Will Eno, Athol Fugard and Sam Shepard. It should be an exciting season."
Signature's current 2017-18 Season continues with the New York premiere of Paradise Blue by Residency 5 playwright Dominique Morisseau, directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, beginning performances on April 24, 2018, and Our Lady of 121st Street by Residency 1 playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis, directed by Phylicia Rashad, beginning performances on May 1, 2018.
Subscriptions to the 2018-19 Season are on sale now by calling Ticket Services at 212-244-7529 (Tues. - Sun., 11am - 6pm) or by visiting www.signaturetheatre.org. Tickets to the initial runs of all Signature productions at The Pershing Square Signature Center are $35, part of the groundbreaking Signature Ticket Initiative: A Generation of Access, a program that guarantees affordable 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 Jerome L. Greene Foundation, the Howard Gilman Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Margot Adams, The SHS Foundation, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Consolidated Edison Company of New York, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, and Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer.
2018-19 SEASON OVERVIEW
RESIDENCY 1: LYNN NOTTAGE
Fabulation, or The Re-Education of Undine
By Lynn Nottage
Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz
November 20 - December 30, 2018
The Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre
Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynn Nottage (Sweat, Ruined) begins her Residency 1 at Signature with Fabulation, or The Re-Education of Undine, directed by Obie Award-winner Lileana Blain-Cruz. This satirical tale, set in present-day New York City, follows successful African-American publicist Undine as she stumbles down the social ladder after her husband steals her hard-earned fortune.
Broke and now pregnant, Undine is forced to return to her childhood home in the Brooklyn projects, where she must face the challenges of the life she left behind. Featuring "punchy social insights and the firecracker snap of unexpected humor" (The New York Times), Fabulation reveals how difficult it is to outrun where we come from.
By the Way, Meet Vera Stark
By Lynn Nottage
Directed by Kamilah Forbes
January 29 - March 10, 2019
The Irene Diamond Stage
It's the Golden Age of Hollywood, and aspiring starlet Vera Stark works as a maid to Gloria Mitchell, an aging star grasping at her fading career. Worlds collide when Vera lands a trailblazing role in an antebellum epic starring...her boss. While Vera's portrayal of a slave turns out to be groundbreaking, decades later scholars and film buffs still grapple with the actress' legacy in Hollywood and the impact that race had on her controversial career.
Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynn Nottage's fast-paced, sly satire, directed by Kamilah Forbes, will take you on a seventy-year journey through Vera's life and the cultural climate that originally shaped her and continues today.
A new play by Lynn Nottage will be produced during the 2019-20 Season as part of her residency.
RESIDENCY 5: DAVE MALLOY
By Dave Malloy
Directed by Annie Tippe
April 30 - June 9, 2019
The Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre
Three-time Tony Award-nominee Dave Malloy (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812) begins his residency as Signature's first musical theatre writer with the world premiere musical Octet, directed by Annie Tippe (Ghost Quartet).
Featuring a score for an a cappella chamber choir and an original libretto inspired by internet comment boards, scientific debates, religious texts, and Sufi poetry, Octet explores addiction and nihilism within the messy context of 21st century technology.
Special thanks to Time Warner Foundation, Inc., The Michael and Betty Rauch Fund for Residency 5, and The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust for supporting the Residency 5 Program.
LEGACY PROGRAM: WILL ENO
Thom Pain (based on nothing)
By Will Eno
Directed by Oliver Butler
October 23 - December 2, 2018
The Irene Diamond Stage
Drama Desk Award-winner Will Eno, the first writer to complete the Residency 5 program, returns to Signature for his first Legacy production with Thom Pain (based on nothing), directed by Oliver Butler (Obie and Lortel Award-winning The Open House).
Called "a small masterpiece" by The New York Times and "one of the best monologues I've ever seen" by The Guardian, this surreal and very real one-man show follows Thom Pain as he desperately, and hilariously, tries to save his own life...or at least make it into something worth dying for.
LEGACY PROGRAM: ATHOL FUGARD
Boesman and Lena
By Athol Fugard
February 5 - March 17, 2019
The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre
Legacy playwright Athol Fugard has made a home at Signature since being the inaugural Residency 1 playwright at the Center, and his South African-set stories, with themes of complex identities, racial tension, and social protest, remain as relevant as ever.
In this new production of the "prophetic and brilliant" (The New York Times) Boesman and Lena, the human need for kindness, hope and compassion is on display in the struggles of abusive Boesman and his long-suffering wife Lena, who encounter a stranger while wandering the South African wastelands.
LEGACY PROGRAM: SAM SHEPARD
Curse of the Starving Class
By Sam Shepard
Directed by Terry Kinney
April 23 - June 2, 2019
The Irene Diamond Stage
This new production of Curse of the Starving Class, directed by Terry Kinney, honors Pulitzer Prize-winning Legacy Playwright Sam Shepard, who passed away in 2017. Living a stagnant, unhappy existence in rural California, the struggling Tate family is desperate for change, but every family member has a different way of trying to improve their station in life. Last produced in NYC by Signature more than 20 years ago, Curse of the Starving Class was called a play of "eloquent intensity, whirlwind farce and resonantly poignant insight" by Time Magazine.
About THE RESIDENT PLAYWRIGHTS
WILL ENO is a Residency 5 alumnus of Signature Theatre in New York, which premiered Title and Deed in 2012, The Open House in 2014, and Wakey, Wakey in 2017. Following an acclaimed run at Yale Repertory Theatre, his play The Realistic Joneses appeared on Broadway in 2014, where it won a Drama Desk Award, was named USA Today's "Best Play on Broadway," topped the The Guardian's 2014 list of American plays and was included in The New York Times' "Best Theatre of 2014." The Open House won the 2014 Obie Award, the Lortel Award for Outstanding Play, and a Drama Desk Award, and was included in both the Time Out New Yorkand Time Magazine Top 10 Plays of the Year. The lauded London premiere was directed by Sir Michael Boyd at The Print Room. Title and Deed was on The New York Times and The New Yorker magazine's Top Ten Plays of 2012. His play Gnit, an adaptation of Peer Gynt, premiered at the Actor's Theatre of Louisville in 2013. Middletown, winner of the Horton Foote Award, premiered at the Vineyard Theatre and subsequently at Steppenwolf Theater and many other American Theaters and universities. The Canadian premiere, at The Shaw Festival in 2017, received a rapturous response from critics and audiences and will be remounted in 2018 in Toronto. His internationally heralded play Thom Pain (based on nothing) ran at the Geffen Playhouse in 2016 and starred Rainn Wilson; this production served as the basis for a film version directed by Oliver Butler and Will, which premiered at the Memphis Film Festival and is available to stream on BroadwayHD. The play was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize, and has been translated into more than a dozen languages. He was recently awarded the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation Award. His plays are published by Samuel French, TCG, Dramatists Play Service, Playscripts, and Oberon Books.
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. In June 2011, he received a Lifetime Achievement Tony Award. In November 2011, he was the inaugural Humanitas Visiting Professor of Drama at Oxford University, and in 2014, he was awarded the Praemium Imperiale Award from the Japan Art Association. His newest play, The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek, was presented in 2016 at The Fugard Theatre in Cape Town. His play The Road to Mecca was recently revived on Broadway starring Rosemary Harris, Carla Gugino and Jim Dale. 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, The Bird Watchers, The Blue Iris and The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek.
DAVE MALLOY is a composer/writer/performer/orchestrator/sound designer. He has written twelve musicals, including Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, an electropop opera based on a slice of Tolstoy's War & Peace (12 Tony nominations, including Best Musical, Score, Book, and Orchestrations); Ghost Quartet, a song cycle about love, death, and whiskey; Preludes, a musical fantasia set in the hypnotized mind of Sergei Rachmaninoff; Three Pianos, a drunken romp through Schubert's "Winterreise"; Black Wizard/Blue Wizard, an escapist RPG fantasy; Beowulf-A Thousand Years of Baggage, an anti-academia rock opera; Beardo, a retelling of the Rasputin myth; Sandwich, a musical about killing animals; and Clown Bible, Genesis to Revelation told through clowns. He has won two Obie Awards, a Smithsonian Ingenuity Award, a Theater World Award, the Richard Rodgers Award, an ASCAP New Horizons Award, and a Jonathan Larson Grant, and has been a MacDowell fellow and Composer-in-Residence at Ars Nova. Future projects include adaptations of Moby-Dick and Shakespeare's Henriad. He lives in Brooklyn.
LYNN NOTTAGE is a playwright and a screenwriter, and the first woman in history to win two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama. Her play Sweat (Pulitzer Prize, Obie Award) moved to Broadway after a sold out run at The Public Theater. Other plays include By the Way, Meet Vera Stark (Lilly Award, Drama Desk Nomination), Ruined (Pulitzer Prize, Obie Award), Intimate Apparel (American Theatre Critics and New York Drama Critics' Circle Awards for Best Play), Fabulation, or The Re-Education of Undine (OBIE Award), Crumbs from the Table of Joy, Las Meninas, Mud, River, Stone, Por'knockers and POOF!. In addition, she is working with composer Ricky Ian Gordon on adapting her play Intimate Apparel into an opera. She has also developed This is Reading, a performance installation at the Franklin Street, Reading Railroad Station in Reading, PA. She was writer/producer on the Netflix series "She's Gotta Have It" directed by Spike Lee. Nottage is a member of the Dramatists Guild, an Associate Professor at Columbia University School of the Arts, and the recipient of a MacArthur "Genius Grant" Fellowship, Steinberg "Mimi" Distinguished Playwright Award, and PEN/Laura Pels Master Playwright Award among others.
SAM SHEPARD's first New York plays, Cowboys and The Rock Garden, were produced by Theatre Genesis in 1964. For several seasons, he worked with Off-Off-Broadway theatre groups including La MaMa and Caffe Cino. Eleven of his plays won Obie Awards, including Chicago, The Tooth of Crime, and Curse of the Starving Class. Other award-winning plays include Fool for Love, True West, A Lie of the Mind, and Buried Child, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1979. In 1986, Shepard was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters and received the Gold Medal for Drama from the Academy in 1992. He was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame two years later. As a writer and director, he filmed Far North and Silent Tongue. As an actor, he appeared in numerous films, including The Right Stuff, Days of Heaven and Resurrection. His final works of prose, The One Inside and Spy of the First Person, were published in 2017, the year of his death.
Photo Credit: Jennifer Broski
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