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World Premiere of A CASE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD Extended at Signature Theatre

A Case for the Existence of God unfolds in a cubicle where two seated people unexpectedly choose to bring one another into their fragile worlds.

World Premiere of A CASE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD Extended at Signature Theatre

Signature Theatre has extended the world premiere of Samuel D. Hunter's A Case for the Existence of God, directed by David Cromer (Tony Award-winner, The Band's Visit) to May 22. The production, which opened on May 2, is running on The Irene Diamond Stage at The Pershing Square Signature Center (480 W 42nd St).

A Case for the Existence of God unfolds in a cubicle where two seated people unexpectedly choose to bring one another into their fragile worlds. Keith, a mortgage broker, and Ryan, a yogurt plant worker seeking to buy a plot of land that belonged to his family many decades ago, realize they share a "specific kind of sadness." At this desk in the middle of America, loan talk opens up into a discussion about the chokehold of financial insecurity and a bond over the precariousness of parenthood. With humor, empathy, and wrenching honesty, Hunter commingles two lives and deftly bridges disparate experiences of marginality.

The production's cast includes Kyle Beltran (Keith) and Will Brill (Ryan), and the creative team features Arnulfo Maldonado (Scenic Design), Brenda Abbandandolo (Costume Design), Tyler Micoleau (Lighting Design), Christopher Darbassie (Sound Design), John Baker (Dramaturgy), Katie Young (Production Stage Manager), Patrick McCollum (Fight Consultant), and Caparelliotis Casting (Casting).

A Case for the Existence of God concludes the organization's 30th Anniversary season, and launches Hunter's Residency 5 at Signature. Signature Theatre Artistic Director Paige Evans says, "Supporting playwrights as they develop new plays and build robust bodies of work is at the core of Signature's mission and its one-of-a-kind Residency 5. We're thrilled that this deeply humane and stirring new play is the first of three world premieres by the inimitable Sam Hunter that we'll share with our audiences over the next several years."

Hunter says, "My most recent plays prior to this were large-scale, and starting Residency 5 with A Case for the Existence of God feels like a great opportunity to hit reset. It's so exciting to feel like I can enter into this new community with a new audience who may not be familiar with my work, with the approach of, 'let's build these three plays together. Let's start at the beginning and see where this takes us rather than continuing on a treadmill I could otherwise stay on.'"

With A Case for the Existence of God, Hunter continues his career-long exploration of how setting, with its attendant social order, sculpts us. Hunter, a MacArthur Fellow whose recent work Greater Clements was named "the best new play" of 2019 by The Washington Post, has been described by The New York Times as depicting a "sense of place...richer and more particular than any other American playwright working today," as he writes characters struggling against the stark social and physical backdrops of his home state, Idaho. From within this neutral, fluorescent box floating somewhere in Twin Falls, Idaho, he offers a lucid portrait of America's particular alloy of majesty and desolation: a vast country of ever-constricting promise for its working and middle classes.

Hunter was compelled to write the play following his and his husband's grueling experience buying a two-bedroom co-op in New York for them and their daughter. "We're all really nervous to talk about money in this country-and sometimes our plays and films can also be really nervous to talk about money, and it's something we need to get over," he says. "The disparities right now are widening and widening, and the more that we're timid about being frank with one another about how hard it is just to participate in the American economy - especially as someone who might exist at the margins in some way - it just felt like a thing worth talking about in a play."

As Hunter wrote his characters, he thought through the bounds of masculinity and "the dearth of stories of platonic male love that aren't buddy comedies or war stories." Says Hunter, "In the play, there are moments of lashing out on both characters' parts - and I think it's because culturally we don't have a language for platonic male love, especially between a straight man and a gay man. The expectations of gender norms compacts men's-and especially straight men's-emotional and spiritual lives as they grow up. In the play, as their lives cave in and they lose the little control they have, the friendship they cultivate for one another is really through the condition of being bound up in a ball."

David Cromer, whose tightly-contained 2010 staging of A Streetcar Named Desire Samuel D. Hunter refers to as "one of the best, most heartbreakingly gorgeous productions [he's] ever seen," says of this production, "I was completely floored the first time I read the script; it carried me forward with such tension and precision and it has such hard-earned grace."

COVID-19 Safety

Signature will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for all visitors to The Pershing Square Signature Center. Additionally, masks must always be worn, except for when actively eating or drinking. See all of Signature's COVID-19 safety protocols and the latest updates at signaturetheatre.org/covid-19.

About Samuel D. Hunter

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, 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.

About David Cromer

Broadway: The Sound Inside; The Band's Visit (2018 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical, Ethel Barrymore Theatre); Brighton Beach Memoirs, The House of Blue Leaves. Off Broadway: A Prayer For the French Republic (Manhattan Theatre Club), The Treasurer (Playwrights Horizons); Man from Nebraska (Second Stage); The Band's Visit, Women or Nothing (Atlantic Theater); Really Really (MCC Theater); When the Rain Stops Falling, Nikolai and the Others (Lincoln Center Theater). At Barrow Street Theatre, he directed Tribes, The Effect, Orson's Shadow, Adding Machine (presented at the Minetta Lane) and Our Town, which originated in Chicago and later played in London, Los Angeles, Boston and Kansas City. In Chicago his credits include Bug (Steppenwolf), Next to Normal, A Streetcar Named Desire, Picnic, Booth (Writers Theatre); Cherrywood, Mojo, The Hot l Baltimore (Mary-Arrchie Theatre); The Cider House Rules (co-directed with Marc Grapey at Famous Door); and Angels in America (The Journeymen); among others. For his direction he has received a Tony Award, a Drama Desk, three Obie Awards, three Lucille Lortel Awards, a Joe A. Callaway Award, four Jeff Awards and in 2010 was made a MacArthur Foundation Fellow.

About the Cast

Kyle Beltran (Keith) Broadway: The Cherry Orchard, In The Heights (& first national tour). Off-Broadway: Lessons In Survival (Vineyard), Blue Ridge (Atlantic), Fire In Dreamland (Public), Tin Cat Shoes (Clubbed Thumb), The Amateurs (Vineyard), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Public, Delacorte), Head of Passes (Public), The Flick (Barrow Street), Gloria (Vineyard), The Fortress of Solitude (Public), Choir Boy (MTC), 10 Things to Do Before I Die (2ST). Regional: Williamstown, Center Theatre Group, Goodman, Dallas Theater Center, Steppenwolf, Yale Rep, The Old Globe. Film/Television: Equity (Sony Pictures Classics,) "Inventing Anna" (Netflix), "Olga Dies Dreaming" (Hulu, pilot), "American Rust" (Showtime), "David Makes Man" (OWN/HBOMax), "The Shivering Truth" (Adult Swim), "Horace and Pete" (Pig Newton), "The Big C" (Showtime), "Unforgettable" (CBS). BFA in Drama, Carnegie Mellon (college roommate: Will Brill.)

Will Brill (Ryan) Broadway: Oklahoma!, You Can't Take It With You, Act One. Off Broadway: Illyria (Public), Tribes, Our Town (Barrow St, David Cromer). Regional: Zero Cost House (Pig Iron), The Lieutenant of Inishmore (Pittsburgh Irish & Classical), Translations, Restoration Comedy, Goat Song for Asa Jacobs (Stanford), Arcadia (TheatreWorks Palo Alto). Directing: You May Be Splendid Now (Shelby Co). Film / TV: "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," Test Pattern, "Lisey's Story," Ride, Slice, Unsane, "The OA," Beside Still Waters, King Kelly, Not Fade Away. Upcoming: To The Moon, "The Time Traveler's Wife." Carnegie Mellon University (roommate Kyle Beltran)

About Signature Theatre

Signature Theatre celebrates playwrights and gives them an artistic home. Signature makes an extended commitment to a playwright's body of work, producing several plays by each resident writer and delivering an intimate and immersive journey into the playwright's singular vision.

Signature serves its mission by hosting Signature's distinctive resident playwrights and cultural community at its permanent home at The Pershing Square Signature Center, a three-theatre facility on West 42nd Street designed by Frank Gehry Architects. At the Center, opened in January 2012, Signature continues its original Playwright-in-Residence model with Residency 1, a year-long intensive exploration of a single writer's body of work. Residency 5, the only program of its kind, supports playwrights as they build a body of work by guaranteeing each writer three world premiere productions over a five-year period. The Legacy Program, launched during Signature's 10th Anniversary, invites writers from both residencies to premiere or re-produce earlier plays. In 2020, Signature launched SigSpace, to bring free artistic programming to the Center's public spaces and more fully activate Signature's lobby as a free public workspace and social hub for New York artists.

The Pershing Square Signature Center is a major contribution to New York City's cultural landscape. The Center supports and encourages collaboration among artists, cultural organizations and local communities by providing free, public access throughout the space. In addition to its three intimate theatres, the Center features a studio theatre, a rehearsal studio and a public café, bar, and bookstore.

Founded in 1991 by James Houghton, Signature Theatre is now led by Artistic Director Paige Evans and Interim Executive Director Tim McClimon.. Signature's Resident Playwrights include: Edward Albee, Annie Baker, Lee Blessing, Martha Clarke, Will Eno, Horton Foote, María Irene Fornés, Athol Fugard, John Guare, Stephen Adly Guirgis, A.R. Gurney, Katori Hall, Quiara Alegría Hudes, Samuel D. Hunter, David Henry Hwang, Bill Irwin, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Adrienne Kennedy, Tony Kushner, Romulus Linney, Kenneth Lonergan, Dave Malloy, Charles Mee, Arthur Miller, Dominique Morisseau, Lynn Nottage, Suzan-Lori Parks, Sarah Ruhl, Sam Shepard, Anna Deavere Smith, Regina Taylor, Paula Vogel, Naomi Wallace, August Wilson, Lanford Wilson, Lauren Yee, The Mad Ones, and members of the historic Negro Ensemble Company: Charles Fuller, Leslie Lee, and Samm-Art Williams.

Signature and its artists have been recognized with Tony Awards, Pulitzer Prizes, MacArthur "Genius" grants, and Lucille Lortel, Obie, Drama Desk, AUDELCO, and Artios Awards as well as the 50/50 Award for Gender Parity in Theatre, among many other distinctions. In 2014, Signature became the first New York City theatre to receive the Regional Theatre Tony Award for our body of work and accomplishments as an institution. For more information, please visit signaturetheatre.org.

The groundbreaking Signature Ticket Initiative: A Generation of Access, which in 2019 celebrated its one millionth ticket sold, guarantees affordable tickets to every Signature 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, in part, by Lead Partner The Pershing Square Foundation.



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