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Signature's 'DEATH OF THE LAST BLACK MAN' Extends Off-Broadway

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Due to popular demand, the Signature Theatre production of The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World AKA the Negro Book of the Dead, by Pulitzer Prize-winner Suzan-Lori Parks and directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz, has been extended an additional week.

The production will now run through December 18, 2016 with a Sunday, November 13 opening in The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center (480 West 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues). Tickets during extension performances begin at $35.

Parks is Signature's current Residency One playwright; her plays Venus, directed by Lear deBessonet, and The Red Letter Plays: In the Blood and Fucking A, directed by Jo Bonney, will be presented in 2017.

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 AKA the Negro Book of the Dead hums with the heartbeat of improvisational jazz.

The cast includes William DeMeritt (HBO's The Normal Heart) as Voice on Thuh Tee V, Nike Kadri (Classic Stage's Iphigenia in Aulis) as Yes and Greens Black-Eyed Peas Cornbread, Patrena Murray (CTG's Father Comes Home from the Wars) as Ham, Reynaldo Piniella (The Erlkings at Theatre Row) as And Bigger and Bigger and Bigger, Julian Rozzell (Public's Father Comes Home from the Wars) as Old Man River Jordan, Roslyn Ruff (Signature's The Piano Lesson) as Black Woman with Fried Drumstick, Mirirai Sithole (Classic Stage's Mother Courage and Her Children) as Prunes and Prisms, David Ryan Smith (Public's The Comedy of Errors) as Before Columbus, Daniel J. Watts (Hamilton) as Black Man with Watermelon, Jamar Williams (Second Stage's Invisible Thread) as Lots of Grease and Lots of Pork, Amelia Workman (Second Stage's The Layover) as Queen-Then-Pharaoh Hatshepsut.

The creative team includes Riccardo Hernandez (Scenic Design), Montana Blanco (Costume Design), Yi Zhao (Lighting Design), Palmer Hefferan (Sound Design),Hannah Wasileski (Projection Design), Raja Feather Kelly (Choreographer), Cookie Jordan (Wig Design), Paul Rubin (Aerial Effects). Terri K. Kohler is the Production Stage Manager. Casting by Telsey + Company.

Signature Theatre exists to honor and celebrate the playwright. Founded in 1991 by James Houghton, Signature makes an extended commitment to a playwright's body of work, and during this journey, the writer is engaged in every aspect of the creative process. By championing in-depth explorations of a playwright's body of work, Signature delivers an intimate and immersive journey into the playwright's singular vision. In 2014 Signature became the first New York City theatre to receive the Regional Theatre Tony Award.

Signature serves its mission through its permanent home at The Pershing Square Signature Center, a three-theatre facility on West 42nd Street designed by Frank Gehry Architects to host Signature's three distinct playwrights' residencies and foster a cultural community. At the Center, opened in January 2012, Signature continues its founding Playwright-in-Residence model as Residency One, a first-of-its-kind, intensive exploration of a single writer's body of work. Residency Five, the only program of its kind, was launched at the Center to support multiple playwrights as they build bodies of work by guaranteeing each writer three productions over a five-year period. The Legacy Program, launched during Signature's 10th Anniversary, invites writers from both residencies back for productions of premiere or earlier plays.

The Pershing Square Signature Center is a major contribution to New York City's cultural landscape and provides a venue for cultural organizations that supports and encourages collaboration among artists throughout the space. In addition to its three intimate theatres, the Center features a Studio Theatre, rehearsal studio, and a public café, bar and bookstore. Through the Signature Ticket Initiative: A Generation of Access, Signature has also made an unprecedented commitment to making its productions accessible by underwriting the cost of initial run tickets, currently priced at $30, 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.

Signature has presented entire seasons of the work of Edward Albee, Lee Blessing, Horton Foote, María Irene Fornés, Athol Fugard, A.R. Gurney, John Guare, David Henry Hwang, Bill Irwin, Adrienne Kennedy, Tony Kushner, Romulus Linney, Charles Mee, Arthur Miller, Sam Shepard, Paula Vogel, Naomi Wallace, August Wilson, Lanford Wilson, and a season celebrating the historic Negro Ensemble Company. Suzan-Lori Parks is the current Residency One playwright. Signature's current Residency Five playwrights are Annie Baker, Martha Clarke, Will Eno, Katori Hall, Quiara Alegría Hudes, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Kenneth Lonergan and ReGina Taylor. In addition to the Regional Theatre Tony Award, Signature's productions and its resident writers have been recognized with the Pulitzer Prize, Lucille Lortel Awards, Obie Awards, Drama Desk Awards, and AUDELCO Awards, among many other distinctions.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus


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