Off-Broadway's Signature Theatre Company, which is devoting its entire 1996-97 season to the works of playwright Sam Shepard, will open three Shepard one-acts Feb. 9. All revivals, The Sad Lament Of Pecos Bill On The Eve Of Killing His Wife was first staged at La MaMa in 1983, while Killer's Head and Action debuted at the American Place Theatre in 1975.
Pecos Bill, which offers music by Loren Toolajian, tells of the legendary cowboy who murdered his beloved wife, Slue-Foot Sue. In Killer's Head, a man strapped to an electric chair contemplates the mundane daily rituals of a life he'll never know. Action shows four people around a table drinking coffee, carving a Christmas turkey, hacking up a fish, dreaming, talking and waiting patiently for their lives to begin.
Starring in the three plays will be Debbon Ayer, Julie Christensen, John Diehl, Romain Fruge', Tanya Gingerich and Bruce MacVittie. Darrell Larsen will direct all three pieces. He's staged such previous Shepard plays as The Unseen Hand and The Mad Dog Blues and as an actor created the role of Coyote in Murray Mednick's 7-play epic, The Coyote Cycle. Sets for the one-acts are by E. David Cosier, costumes by Teresa Snider-Stein, lighting by Jeffrey Koger and sound by Red Ramona.
The Signature season began with a double-bill of one-act plays, the New York premiere of When the World Was Green (A Chef's Fable) and 1965's Chicago, directed by longtime Shepard collaborator Joseph Chaikin. Though scheduled to close Dec. 1, the evening was extended to Dec. 15.
The following show, a disappointingly received co-production with the Second Stage Theatre, was a revised version of Tooth Of Crime, featuring a new score by T Bone Burnett. An Evening Of Three One-Acts By Sam Shepard plays at the Susan Stein Shiva Theatre in the Joseph Papp Public Theatre complex in New York's Greenwich Village.
The world premiere of a new full-length play TBA by Shepard will be another highlight of the season.
Full season explorations of a single author's work is the policy of Signature, which is concluding a full season devoted to the works of Adrienne Kennedy.
Signature Theatre Company attracted attention in 1994 and 1995 when the playwrights of those two seasons -- Edward Albee and Horton Foote, respectively -- won Pulitzer Prizes. Albee's winning Three Tall Women had been presented by another Off-Broadway company, but Foote's The Young Man From Atlanta had its premiere at Signature.
Like Albee, Shepard is a previous winner of the Pulitzer, for his Buried Child, which was revived, on Broadway, in April 1996, and nominated for a Best Play Tony Award.
Signature's artistic director is James Houghton.
Shepard's other plays include True West, Fool for Love (being revived in London this season), The Unseen Hand and A Lie of the Mind. His most recent play, Simpatico, was presented at the New York Shakespeare Festival (NYSF) in late 1994. Shepard, who began his career in 1960s off-off Broadway experimental theatre, has also pursued an on-again off-again career as an actor in films such as The Right Stuff.
Pending approval from Actors' Equity Association, the Signature season will continue its "interim" relationship as tenant of the Susan Stein Shiva Theatre in the Joseph Papp Public Theatre complex in Greenwich Village for the 1996-97 season.
For information and tickets ($25) to the Shepard one-acts, call (212) 239 6200.