Suzan-Lori Parks Named Residency One Playwright for Signature's 2016-17 Season

Suzan-Lori Parks Named Residency One Playwright for Signature's 2016-17 Season

Signature Theatre has announced that Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks will be the Residency One Playwright for the 2016-2017 season. Residency One is Signature's core one-year playwright-in-residence program that produces a series of plays from the body of work of one accomplished writer. Show titles, dates, casting and creative teams will be announced at a later date.

Signature Theatre's Founding Artistic Director James Houghton said, "I have long wanted Suzan-Lori Parks to join us at Signature as a Residency One playwright. Approaching serious themes with a singular power, poetry and humor, Suzan-Lori's body of work absolutely warrants the kind of immersive exploration Signature's mission allows for. I look forward to coming to the Center and experiencing her powerful words as a member of the audience."

Suzan-Lori Parks said, "I'm thrilled to be joining Signature next season as their Residency One Playwright! I'm very moved that the righteous Jim Houghton has chosen me to be included in the long list of incredible artists whose works have been explored by Signature over the past 25 years. It's admirable, isn't it, how Signature puts the writer at the center of the creative process. Yeah, I'm looking forward to digging in, resurrecting my body of work, taking a fresh look at it with an exciting group of artistic collaborators, and wow, sharing the experience with audiences old and new."

Signature Theatre's next Artistic Director Paige Evans, who will join the organization July 1, said, "Suzan-Lori Parks is an innovative, ambitious and audaciously theatrical playwright. She tackles complex issues relating to race and American history with vision, originality and fearlessness. She is an exciting addition to Signature's roster of playwrights, and I'm delighted that she'll be in residence during my first season at Signature."

Named one of TIME Magazine's "100 Innovators for the Next New Wave" in 2002, Suzan-Lori Parks became the first African American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize in Drama for her Broadway hit Topdog/Underdog. A MacArthur "Genius" Award and Gish Prize recipient, she has also been awarded grants by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Her new play Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3) made its world premiere at the Public Theater in New York, followed by a celebrated run at the A.R.T in Cambridge, MA, and is opening in Spring of 2016 at the Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles, CA. The play was named a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was awarded the 2015 Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History as well as the 2014 Horton Foote Prize. Parks' work on The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess was honored with the 2012 Tony Award. Her numerous plays include The Book of Grace, In The Blood (2000 Pulitzer Prize finalist), Venus (1996 OBIE Award), 365 Days/365 Plays, and The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World, among others. Parks' novel Getting Mother's Body was published by Random House. Her first feature-length screenplay was Girl 6, written for Spike Lee. She's also written screenplays for Brad Pitt, Denzel Washington, and Jodie Foster, as well as adapted Zora Neale Hurston's classic novel Their Eyes Were Watching God which premiered on ABC's Oprah Winfrey Presents. Parks is currently writing an adaptation of the film The Harder They Come for a live stage musical. Parks is the Master Writer Chair at the Public Theater, and she serves as a professor in dramatic writing at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.


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 through 2031.

Signature has presented entire seasons of the work of Edward Albee, Lee Blessing, Horton Foote, María Irene Fornés, Athol Fugard, John Guare, A. R. Gurney, 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. Its current Residency Five playwrights are Annie Baker, Martha Clarke, Will Eno, Katori Hall, Quiara Alegria Hudes, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Lisa Kron, 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.

What Do You Think? Tell Us In The Comments!

Related Articles

Off-Broadway THEATER Stories | Shows

From This Author BWW News Desk

Before you go...