NYC's Signature Names Mee, Parks and Kushner as Next Playwrights-in-Residence

News   NYC's Signature Names Mee, Parks and Kushner as Next Playwrights-in-Residence
Signature Theatre Company, the Off-Broadway not-for-profit known for devoting entire fall-to-spring slates to a single living playwright, has announced details of its next four seasons.

Playwright Charles Mee.
Playwright Charles Mee.

The upcoming playwrights in residence will include Charles Mee, Suzan-Lori Parks and Tony Kushner as well as a season devoted to writers who have penned works for the Negro Ensemble Company.

Charles Mee will be the playwright-in-residence for the 2007-2008 season. Three of Mee's plays will be part of the season: the New York premiere of Iphigenia 2.0, which is the playwright's interpretation of the Greek drama Iphigenia at Aulis; the world premiere of Queens Boulevard (the musical); and Paradise Park, a story of "what happens when a young man buys a ticket to an amusement park and boards a thrilling and chaotic roller coaster ride through all of America."

Tina Landau will direct the first Mee offering, Iphigenia 2.0, which will run Aug. 7-Sept. 30. Davis McCallum will direct Queens Boulevard (Nov. 6-Dec. 30), and Daniel Fish will helm Paradise Park (Feb. 12-April 6, 2008).

The upcoming season will also see the return of Signature's 1993-94 Playwright-in-Residence Edward Albee. As part of the Signature's Legacy Program, the theatre will present Edward Albee's Occupant, which is "a portrait of acclaimed sculptor Louise Nevelson and a quest to capture a charismatic and complex artist and persona."

The 2008-2009 season will examine the body of work from the Negro Ensemble Company, which was founded in 1967 by actor/producer Robert Hooks, playwright Douglas Turner Ward and theater manager Gerald S. Krone. During its 40 years, the company has produced more than 200 new plays by such authors as Gus Edwards, Lennox Brown, Charles Fuller, Larry Neal, Samm-Art Williams, Leslie Lee, J.E. Franklin and Sam Greenlee. The 2009-2010 season will offer the plays of Pulitzer Prize winner Suzan-Lori Parks. Parks' plays include The Third Kingdom (Obie for Best New American Play), The American Play, Venus (Obie for Best New American Play), In The Blood, Fucking A, Topdog/Underdog (Pulitzer Prize) and the 365 Days/365 Plays cycle.

The works of another Pulitzer Prize winner, Tony Kushner, will be part of the 2010-2011 Signature season. This 20th Anniversary Season will feature plays by the author of Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes (Pulitzer Prize, Tony Drama Desk, Evening Standard and New York Critics Circle Awards), A Bright Room Called Day, Homebody/Kabul and the Tony-nominated musical Caroline, or Change.

The Signature Ticket Initiative, which began this past season, will continue for the next four seasons thanks to support from Time Warner Inc. All seats for the 2007-2011 seasons will be $20 each.

Signature presents in the Peter Norton Space on West 42nd Street.

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The mission of Signature, founded in 1991 by artistic director James Houghton, calls for fully staged works by each playwright -in-residence. Those plays have and can include re-examinations of past writings as well as New York and world premieres.

The playwrights are involved "in every aspect of the creative process, allowing tremendous insight into the scope, context, and substance of a playwright's work, legacy, and continuing achievements."

The writers showcased since the start of Signature include Romulus Linney (1991-92), Lee Blessing (1992-93), Edward Albee (1993-94), Horton Foote (1994-95), Adrienne Kennedy (1995-96), Sam Shepard (1996-97), Arthur Miller (1997-98), John Guare (1998-99), Maria Irene Fornes (1999-00), Lanford Wilson (2002-03), Bill Irwin (2003-04), Paula Vogel (2004-05), August Wilson (2006-07). The 2005-06 season featured works by Signature alumni John Guare (Landscape of the Body) and Horton Foote (The Trip to Bountiful); and the 2000-01 and 2001-02 seasons featured premieres by alumni Sam Shepard, Edward Albee, John Guare, Romulus Linney, Horton Foote, Lee Blessing, plus a collection of short works by Kia Corthron, Suzan-Lori Parks, Ntozake Shange & Regina Taylor, honoring alumna Adrienne Kennedy.

Erika Mallin is executive director of Signature Theatre Company.

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