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Friday, 27 April 2012 10:23

Signature Theatre Company Announces Eight Productions for the 2012-13 Season

Signature Theatre Company







HEARTLESS by Sam Shepard


THE PIANO LESSON by August Wilson

THE MOUND BUILDERS by Lanford Wilson


---- and Potatoes by Regina Taylor


Signature Theatre (James Houghton, Founding Artistic Director; Erika Mallin, Executive Director) is pleased to announce eight productions for its 2012-13 season at The Pershing Square Signature Center (480 West 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues), the company’s new Frank Gehry-designed permanent home.

{module ad_left_body}As previously announced, Tony Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang is the 2012-13 Residency One playwright. Residency One is the continuation of Signature’s core one-year Playwright-in-Residence program that produces a series of plays from the body of work of one accomplished writer. The Residency One: David Henry Hwang Series will feature Golden Childdirected by Leigh Silverman, The Dance and the Railroad directed by May Adrales, and the world premiere of Kung Fu, also directed by Leigh Silverman.

Signature’s Legacy Program, a homecoming for past Signature Playwrights-in-Residence, will feature the world premiere of Sam Shepard’s new play Heartless, directed by Daniel Aukin; a new work from Bill Irwin and David Shiner (Broadway’s Fool Moon); a new production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Piano Lesson by August Wilson, directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson; and a new production of the Obie Award-winning The Mound Builders by Lanford Wilson, directed by Jo Bonney. Signature devoted its 1996-97 Season to Sam Shepard, producing his plays When the World Was Green (co-written with Joseph Chaikin), Chicago, The Tooth of Crime, Action, Killer's Head, The Sad Lament of Pecos Bill on the Eve of Killing His Wife and Curse of the Starving Class. Shepard returned to Signature in the 2001-02 10th Anniversary Season for the New York premiere of  The Late Henry Moss. Signature devoted its 2003-04 Season to Bill Irwin, producing his plays The Harlequin Studies, The Regard Evening and Mr. Fox: A Rumination. Signature’s 2005-06 Season was devoted to the late August Wilson, with productions of his plays Seven Guitars, Two Trains Running and King Hedley II, while Lanford Wilson was Signature’s Playwright-in-Residence during the 2002-03 Season, when his plays Burn This, Book of Days, Fifth of July and Rain Dance were produced.

Residency Five is Signature’s newest initiative, a groundbreaking program that provides a group of playwrights with the full range of Signature’s resources for a period of five years to create and produce new work, and guarantees each playwright a minimum of three world premieres at The Pershing Square Signature Center. Residency Five enables a diverse community of playwrights to build bodies of work, and provides them with a significant cash award, full health benefits and a stipend to attend theatre. Annie Baker, Will Eno, Katori Hall, Kenneth Lonergan and Regina Taylor are the program’s inaugural playwrights. The 2012-13 Season will feature the World Premiere of Regina Taylor’s ---- and potatoes.

Signature’s current season continues next month, when Athol Fugard’s My Children! My Africa!, Will Eno’s Title and Deed, and Kenneth Lonergan’s Medieval Playbegin performances. Athol Fugard’s The Train Driver, also a part of the Inaugural Season, will begin performances in August. 

Tickets to the initial runs of all Signature productions at The Pershing Square Signature Center are $25, part of the groundbreaking Signature Ticket Initiative: A Generation of Access, a program that guarantees affordable and accessible tickets to every Signature production for the next 20 years.  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 and founding sponsor Time Warner, Inc., with additional seed support provided by the Ford Foundation, Margot Adams, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

Subscriptions to the 2012-13 Season are on sale now by calling the Box Office at 212-244-7529 or visiting




Directed by Leigh Silverman

October 23 – December 2, 2012

The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre

In 1918, businessman Eng Tieng-Bin returns to his polygamous Chinese household after three years working abroad in the Philippines.  As he seeks to introduce Western ways and a strange new religion -- Christianity -- to his traditional family, Tieng-Bin sets off a dangerous power struggle between his three wives, witnessed through the eyes of his favorite daughter.

Inspired by his own family history, David Henry Hwang's 1997 Obie Award-winning and 1998 Tony nominated Golden Child explores the often-painful process through which change comes to people and cultures.


Directed by May Adrales

February 5 – March 17, 2013

The Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre

On a California mountaintop in 1867 near the Transcontinental Railroad, Chinese ‘Coolie’ laborers strike to protest low wages and long hours.  Faced with the ‘Gold Mountain’s’ promises as well as its betrayals, two workers find their humanity in the theatrical traditions of their homeland.

One of his earliest plays, David Henry Hwang's The Dance and the Railroad uses the stagecraft of Chinese opera to tell an intimate and haunting American story.

KUNG FU                                                                              **WORLD PREMIERE**

Directed by Leigh Silverman

Fall 2013

The Irene Diamond Stage

In Kung Fu, a play which incorporates dance and music into an exciting new form, a young martial artist comes to America from Hong Kong in the 1960's, with a dream as audacious as his talent: to become the biggest movie star in the world. To do so, he must struggle to overcome the West's view of China as weak and backwards, and of Asian men as less than truly masculine.

A world premiere production of a new play by David Henry Hwang.


HEARTLESS                                                                       **WORLD PREMIERE**

By Sam Shepard

Directed by Daniel Aukin

August 7 – September 16, 2012

The Irene Diamond Stage

Sally lives with her mysterious family in a cavernous home overlooking Los Angeles. When a visitor arrives, Sally's dark secrets-- and the secrets of those around her-- threaten to come into the light.

A world premiere from the Pulitzer Prize-winning Sam Shepard, Signature’s 1996-97 Playwright-in-Residence.

The Bill Irwin and David Shiner Project                       **WORLD PREMIERE**

October 30 – December 9, 2012

The Irene Diamond Stage

2003-04 Playwright-in-Residence Bill Irwin reunites with fellow clown David Shiner for a new work combining their inimitable magic, slapstick, and hilarity. Using music, technology, and movement, plus other tricks up their sleeves, Irwin and Shiner create another wild and remarkable outing of theatre for a new generation of audiences.

Signature is proud to present this dynamic duo’s first collaboration since the smash Broadway hit Fool Moon.


By August Wilson

Directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson

January 29 – March 10, 2013

The Irene Diamond Stage

Signature returns to the rich body of work of its 2006-07 Playwright-in-Residence August Wilson with a new production of his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Piano Lesson. In Pittsburgh’s Hill District in 1936, the Charles family battle their surroundings and each other over their shared legacy – an antique piano.

The fourth play of August Wilson’s epic Century Cycle, The Piano Lesson is a stunning and moving drama of family, history, and survival.


By Lanford Wilson

Directed by Jo Bonney

April 23 – June 2, 2013

The Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre

A team of archeologists descends on an Indiana town to unearth the mysteries of the Mound Builders. As they excavate the remains of this Native American civilization, they confront powerful and dangerous forces of ambition and legacy.

2002-03 Playwright-in-Residence Lanford Wilson’s searing drama of class, culture and gender clash won the 1975 Obie Award for Distinguished Playwriting.


---- and Potatoes                                                                 **WORLD PREMIERE**

By Regina Taylor

April 30 – June 9, 2013

The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre

Chicago book publisher William Ames loves the challenge and stability of his daily crossword puzzle, but now he must face the real-life challenge of how to adapt his business in the rapidly changing digital age. Struggling to find his purpose in the world, William begins to look for clues of his own identity as a husband, businessman, and an African-American.

A new play from Residency Five playwright Regina Taylor, ---- and potatoes asks how we stay true to ourselves and our history in a time when knowledge is fast becoming a fluid commodity.


DAVID HENRY HWANG's plays include M. Butterfly (1988 Tony Award, 1989 Pulitzer Finalist), Golden Child (1996 Obie Award, 1998 Tony Nomination), Yellow Face (2008 Obie Award and Pulitzer Finalist), and FOB (1981 Obie Award).  His Broadway musicals include the books for Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida (co-author), Flower Drum Song (revival, 2002 Tony Nomination), and Disney's Tarzan.  As America's most-produced living opera librettist, he has written four works with composer Philip Glass, as well as Osvaldo Golijov's Ainadamar (two 2007 Grammy Awards), Unsuk Chin's Alice in Wonderland, and Bright Sheng's The Silver River.  He penned the feature films M. Butterfly, Golden Gate, and Possession (co-writer), and co-wrote the song “Solo” with pop star Prince.  Hwang attended Stanford University and the Yale School of Drama, and sits on the boards of the Dramatists Guild, the American Theatre Wing, and the Lark Play Development Center.  From 1994-2000, he served by appointment of President Clinton on the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.  His newest play, Chinglish, opened at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, winning a Jeff Award for Best New Play, before moving to Broadway in 2011.

SAM SHEPARD was first produced in New York in 1963 at Theatre Genesis and many times at La MaMa and Café Cino.  Eleven of his plays have won Obie Awards including The Tooth of Crime (1972) and Curse of the Starving Class (1976).  He was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his play Buried Child (1979).  The critically acclaimed production of True West, starring Jon Malkovich and Gary Sinise opened in New York in 1982.  Fool For Love (1982) starring Ed Harris received the Obie for Best Play and Direction.  A Lie of the Mind (1985) won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Play.  Simpatico opened at The Royal Court Theatre after its premiere at The Public Theatre in 1994 and was made into a feature film by Matthew Warchus starring Nick Nolte and Sharon Stone.  A revised Buried Child under the direction of Gary Sinise opened on Broadway in 1996 and was nominated for a Tony Award.  Signature Theatre devoted its season to him that same year. Several new plays opened over the next ten years in the United States and in London, most notably The Late Henry Moss and The God of Hell.  Mr. Shepard recently began a fruitful collaboration with The Abbey Theatre in Dublin, Ireland where Kicking a Dead Horse and Ages of the Moon premiered.  As an actor he is perhaps best known for his roles in Days of Heaven, The Right Stuff and Frances.  His third book, Day Out of Days, was published last year.

BILL IRWIN is a founding member of Kraken Theatre Ensemble and San Francisco’s Pickle Family Circus. His original works, with various collaborators, include Fool Moon, Largely New York, The Harlequin Studies, Mr. Fox: A Rumination, The Happiness Lecture, and The Regard of Flight. Other theater credits include Broadway productions of Waiting for Godot, Bye, Bye Birdie, The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?, and Accidental Death of an Anarchist; Broadway and West End revivals of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (2005 Tony Award, Helen Hayes Award); Waiting for Godot at Lincoln Center; Scapin at Roundabout Theatre, The Tempest, Garden of Earthly Delights, Texts for Nothing, A Flea in Her Ear, The Seagull, A Man’s a Man, and 3 Cuckolds, and 5-6-7-8 Dance.  The 2003–04 Signature Theatre season was devoted to his original work; he has been an Affiliate Artist with Roundabout. Television credits include “Lights Out,” “CSI,” “Bill Irwin: Clown Prince (PBS’s Great Performances),” “Third Rock from the Sun,” “Northern Exposure,” “Sesame Street,” “Elmo’s World,” “The Regard of Flight,” “The Cosby Show,” “The Laramie Project,” “Subway Stories,” “Bette Midler: Mondo Beyondo,” “Law & Order,” “Life on Mars,” and the closing ceremony of the 1996 Olympic Games. Film credits include Rachel Getting Married, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Igby Goes Down, Lady in the Water, Dark Matter, Raving, Across the Universe, Popeye, Eight Men Out, Silent Tongue, Illuminata, My Blue Heaven, A New Life, Scenes from a Mall, and Stepping Out. He has been granted a National Endowment for the Arts Choreographers Fellowship, as well as Guggenheim, Fulbright, and MacArthur fellowships.

DAVID SHINER made his American debut starring in the renowned Canadian Cirque du Soleil and toured North America in Cirque’s Nouvelle Experience from 1990 through the spring of 1991. American-born, David began his career 34 years ago on the streets of Boulder, Colorado. In 1981, he moved to Europe and honed his craft on the streets of Paris, Rome, Florence, London and Munich. He then began performing in Europe’s most prestigious circuses, including starring in the German National Circus’ Ronacalli and the Swiss National Circus’ Knie. Between circus engagements, Shiner and partner Rene Bazinet toured Europe in a two-man show.  In 1993, 1995 and 1998, Shiner starred with Bill Irwin and the Red Clay Ramblers in Fool Moon (Tony Award for Unique Theatrical Experience), touring the show throughout the U.S. and Europe. He also starred on Broadway as The Cat in the Hat in Seussical: The Musical. Film and television credits include Lorenzo’s Oil, Man of the House, “The Bill Cosby Show.” Shiner continues to maintain his home base in Munich.

AUGUST WILSON authored Gem of the Ocean, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars, Fences, Two Trains Running, Jitney, King Hedley II and Radio Golf. These works explore the heritage and experience of African Americans, decade-by-decade, over the course of the twentieth century. His plays have been produced at regional theatres across the country, all over the world and on Broadway. Pulitzer Prizes: Fences (1987) and The Piano Lesson (1990). Tony Award: Fences. Britain’s Olivier Award for Jitney, and eight NY Drama Critics’ Circle Awards. The cast recording of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom received a 1985 Grammy, and The Piano Lesson received a 1995 Emmy nomination. August Wilson received Rockefeller and Guggenheim Fellowships, the Whiting Writers Award, 2003 Heinz Award, 1999 National Humanities Medal from the President of the United States, numerous honorary college degrees and the only high school diploma ever issued by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. He was an alumnus of New Dramatists, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a 1995 inductee into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. On October 16, 2005, Broadway renamed the theatre located at 245 West 52nd “The August Wilson Theatre.” Posthumously received Dramatists Guild Award for Lifetime Achievement, Theatre Hall of Fame induction, the namesake for Pittsburgh’s August Wilson Center for African American Culture. Born and raised in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, he lived in Seattle at the time of his death. He is immediately survived by his daughters, Sakina Ansari and Azula Carmen Wilson, and his wife, costume designer Constanza Romero.

LANFORD WILSON (1937 – 2011) was the author of Balm in Gilead, The Rimers of Eldritch, The Gingham Dog, Lemon Sky, Serenading Louie, The Hot L Baltimore, The Mound Builders, Angels Fall, Burn This, Redwood Curtain, Trinity, 5th of July, Talley & Son, Talley's Folly, Book of Days, Rain Dance and some twenty one-act plays including Brontosaurus, The Great Nebula in Orion and the paired A Poster of the Cosmos and The Moonshot Tape. For television: “Taxi!” (no relation to the series) and “The Migrants,” from a story by Tennessee Williams. He also wrote the libretto for Lee Hoiby's opera of Williams' Summer and Smoke and a new translation of Chekov's Three Sisters. His play, Virgil is Still the Frogboy (Now entitled A Sense of Place), was produced by the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, New York, in 1996. His play Sympathetic Magic was produced by Second Stage in 1997. His play Book of Days was commissioned by the Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea, Michigan, where it opened in 1998. Awards include the Brandeis University Creative Arts Award in Theatre Arts, The Institute of Arts and Letters Award, The Edward Albee Last Frontier Award, The John Steinbeck Award, The Drama-Logue Award (Los Angeles) for Talley's Folly and 5th of July, two New York Drama Critic's Circle Awards for Best Play (Talley's Folly and Hot L), 2 Obie Awards for Best Play (Hot L and The Mound Builders), an Obie Award for Sustained Achievement, and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama (Talley's Folly). Wilson was a founder (with Tanya Berezin, Rob Thirkield and Marshall W. Mason) of The Circle Repertory Company in New York City and was a resident playwright there from 1969-1995. He was a member of the Dramatists Guild Council and made his home in Sag Harbor since 1970.

REGINA TAYLOR is best known to television audiences for her role as Lilly Harper in the series “I'll Fly Away.” She received many accolades for her performance in the show including winning a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a TV Series, an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series and two Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Taylor was most recently seen starring in the CBS hit drama “The Unit”. She took home the NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding Actress in a Drama” for her work on the show. Regina made her professional acting debut on CBS in the movie “Crisis at Central High” and other television credits include the series “The Education of Max Bickford,” “Feds” as well as television movies “Strange Justice” playing Anita Hill, earning her a Peabody Award and Gracie Award, “Cora Unashamed,” “Children of the Dust,” “I'll Fly Away: Then and Now,” “Howard Beach:  Making a Case for Murder.” Segueing effortlessly between the big and small screen, Taylor has starred in blockbuster films alongside some of Hollywood most talented leading men. Her film credits include “The Negotiator,” “Courage Under Fire,” “A Family Thing,” “The Keeper,” “Clockers,” “Losing Isaiah,” and “Lean on Me.” In addition to her film and television work, Taylor holds the honor of being the first Black woman to play William Shakespeare's Juliet in Broadway's Romeo and Juliet.  Her other theater credits include As You Like It, Macbeth, Machinal, The Illusion and Jar the Floor.  In addition, she won the L.A. Dramalogue Award for her performance in The Tempest on the west coast. Taylor not only feels comfortable on the stage, she is also an accomplished playwright and director.  Her other credits as playwright include Oo-Bla-Dee, for which she won the American Critics’ Association new play award, Drowning Crow, (her adaptation of Chekhov's The Seagull, which was produced on Broadway by Manhattan Theater Club in its inaugural season at the Biltmore Theater and starred Alfre Woodard), The Dreams of Sarah Breedlove, A Night in Tunisia, Escape from Paradise, Watermelon Rinds, and Inside the Belly of the Beast. Taylor’s critically acclaimed Crowns continues to be one of the most performed musicals in the country. It is the winner of four Washington D.C. Helen Hayes awards including Taylor’s win for Best Direction as well as Best Regional Musical. Taylor’s play Magnolia premiered at Chicago's Goodman Theatre in March 2009.  Taylor’s trilogy, The Trinity River Plays premiered as a co-production with the Dallas Theater Center and the Goodman Theatre and was the Recipient of the 2010 Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award. Most recently Taylor wrote and directed Post Black, (a monologue played by Micki Grant, Carmen De Lavallade, and Ruby Dee) for The River Crosses Rivers II Festival at NYC’s Ensemble Studio Theatre. Taylor is a member and Artistic Associate of the Goodman Theatre and a resident playwright at NYC’s Signature Theatre Company. She received the Hope Abelson Artist-In-Residence Award from Northwestern in 2010. Creator and Curator of The State(s) of America – The Regina Taylor Project, a festival involving multiple departments at Northwestern University; students were challenged to own their own voice by creating plays, films, interactive graphic art, stories, spoken word and devised pieces that hold up mirrors to these times.  She has received honorary doctorates from Columbia College, DePaul University and Lake Forest College. As part of the Goodman’s 2011/2012 Season, Taylor will direct the 10th anniversary production of her hit musical, Crowns (June 16 – July 22, 2012). Taylor is also the National Spokesperson for the Ovarian Cancer Symptom Awareness Organization (OCSA), launched in 2010 to educate both women and men about this deadly disease, which is the number one gynecologic cancer killer of women. She was raised in Dallas, Texas and recently moved to Chicago. [,, Twitter: TheReginaTaylor, Facebook: Crowns The Gospel Musical]


Founded in 1991 by James Houghton, Signature Theatre exists to honor and celebrate the playwright.  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.  Signature is the first theatre company to devote an entire season to the work of a single playwright, including re-examinations of past writings as well as New York and world premieres. By championing in-depth explorations of a living playwright’s body of work, the Company delivers an intimate and immersive journey into the playwright’s singular vision. 

Signature has presented entire seasons of the work of Edward Albee, Lee Blessing, Horton Foote, Maria Irene Fornes, John Guare, Bill Irwin, Adrienne Kennedy, Tony Kushner, Romulus Linney, Charles Mee, Arthur Miller, the Negro Ensemble Company, Sam Shepard, Paula Vogel, August Wilson and Lanford Wilson.  At The Pershing Square Signature Center, the Company’s expanded programming includes: Residency One, the continuation of Signature’s core program which provides audiences with an immersive exploration of the work of a singular playwright; Residency Five, which provides five-year residencies for multiple playwrights, guaranteeing three full productions of new work over the course of each playwright’s residency; and the Legacy Program, which honors the lifetime achievement of playwrights who have previously been in residence at Signature through the production of a premiere or earlier play. 

Signature, its productions and its resident writers have been recognized with a Pulitzer Prize, fourteen Lucille Lortel Awards, sixteen Obie Awards, six Drama Desk Awards and twenty-two AUDELCO Awards, among many other distinctions. The National Theatre Conference recognized the company as the 2003 Outstanding National Theatre of the Year. For more information on Signature please visit us on-line at


The Pershing Square Signature Center is the new, permanent home of Signature Theatre.  Spanning an entire city block at 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenue, the Frank Gehry-designed Pershing Square Signature Center features three intimate theatres, a studio theatre, rehearsal studio, and a public café and bookstore and will serve as both a theatre community hub and neighborhood destination. Working hand-in-hand with Signature leadership and architect of record H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture LLC, Gehry’s design has been carefully calibrated to foster interaction among playwrights, artistic collaborators and the public. The Pershing Square Signature Center will allow the 21-year old Company, to expand and enhance its programming, introduce new initiatives, and build audiences. The Center servesas the artistic home for as many as 9 playwrights at any one time, fostering a dynamic creative community where playwrights engage directly with audiences and one another.

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