Signature Theatre Among Groups Offered a Home at World Trade Center Site; Three-Theatre Venue Planned

News   Signature Theatre Among Groups Offered a Home at World Trade Center Site; Three-Theatre Venue Planned The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, joined by New York Governor George E. Pataki and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, announced the selection of a four arts groups — including Off-Broadway's Signature Theatre — to be located on the World Trade Center Site.

The announcement was made June 10. The groups offered space on the site are The Joyce International Dance Center, the Freedom Center, Signature Theatre, and the Drawing Center.

The LMDC Board, at its July 8, 2004 Board Meeting, will determine and offer planning grants to selected institutions.

"In addition to their own programming, the institutions will host other events and organizations such as the Tribeca Film Festival and the Orpheus Chamber Ensemble," according to the announcement. "Performance spaces, screening rooms, galleries, education programs, and rehearsal spaces will also be made available for community and cultural uses."

Signature's new home at the World Trade Center Site "will be a three-theatre complex that will include a 499 seat theatre, a 299 seat theatre, and a flexible 99-199 seat theatre," according to the announcement. "These theatres will house three distinctive yet complimentary programs that will offer year-round programming showcasing the world's finest dramatists."

The Master Playwrights Program will continue Signature's traditional residency program, where an established playwright is invited to join the company and collaboratively produce a full season of their work. An Emerging Playwrights Program will bring early to mid career writers to Signature for a three-year rotating residency and will produce one premiere play from each of the three participants annually. Additionally, a World Premiere Program will allow Signature and its audience to maintain constant contact with alumni of both residency programs by producing three to four premiere plays from former Playwrights-in Residence each season. The facility's public space will also offer a forum for lunchtime and evening activities such as staged readings, lectures, and other activities that provide insight into the theatre's work and which incorporate the Lower Manhattan community into the daily life of the center.

James Houghton, founding artistic director of the Signature said in a statement: "It is a tremendous honor for Signature Theatre Company to be a part of the revitalization of this vastly important site. This new cultural complex will allow Signature to expand its artistic scope by welcoming theatre artists from all over the world and to build a thriving theatrical community center year round. We are thrilled to be included in the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation's plans for the World Trade Center site and are extremely grateful to Governor Pataki, Mayor Bloomberg, and the board and staff of the LMDC for their confidence and support."

Over the next "approximately six months," the four institutions will work closely with the LMDC "to conduct a detailed feasibility analysis of their proposed programming, funding capacity, and space requirements."

At the end of this period, LMDC will enter into a formal agreement with these organizations and "potentially offer substantial challenge grants to assist with the costs of creating these facilities."

Signature Theatre is the respected Off-Broadway company that devotes one season to one playwright (hence, the "signature" in the not-for-profit's marquee). The company has focused on Arthur Miller, Lanford Wilson and (in 2004-05) Bill Irwin, among others. Next season at its home at the Peter Norton Space on West 42nd Street, Signature will offer Paula Vogel's plays.

Visit www.signaturetheatre.org.