Thursday, March 25, 2010

New York Premiere of Tony Kushner's Newest Play Will Be Part of Signature's 2010-11 Season



The Public Theater (Artistic Director Oskar Eustis; Executive Director Andrew D. Hamingson) and Signature Theatre Company (Founding Artistic Director James Houghton; Executive Director Erika Mallin) announced today that the New York premiere of Tony Kushner’s THE INTELLIGENT HOMOSEXUAL’S GUIDE TO CAPITALISM AND SOCIALISM WITH A KEY TO THE SCRIPTURES will be presented in the 2010-2011 season in a co-production between The Public Theater and Signature Theatre Company, in association with the Guthrie Theater. Michael Greif, who directed the world premiere at the Guthrie in April, 2009, will direct the New York premiere, which will play March 22-June 12, 2011 at The Public Theater. Casting will be announced at a later date.

The Public Theater and Artistic Director Oskar Eustis have a long history with Tony Kushner, dating back to 1986 when Eustis, then Artistic Director of the Eureka Theater in San Francisco, directed Kushner's first professional production, A Bright Room Called Day (later seen at the Public Theater), and commissioned Angels in America, which he then directed in its world premier at the Mark Taper Forum. The Public Theater also developed Kushner’s musical Caroline, or Change and then transferred it to Broadway in 2004. In 2006, Kushner’s translation of Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children was presented at Shakespeare in the Park.

Signature Theatre Company 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’s 20th Anniversary Season, devoted to Tony Kushner, also includes the first New York revival of Angels in America and another production to be announced.

Signature was in residence at The Public Theatre for two seasons in 1995-1997, but THE INTELLIGENT HOMOSEXUAL’S GUIDE marks the first time the two theatres have partnered to present a co-production.

In the summer of 2007, Gus Marcantonio, a retired longshoreman, summons his children to the family’s Brooklyn brownstone for a series of shocking announcements. THE INTELLIGENT HOMOSEXUAL’S GUIDE TO CAPITALISM AND SOCIALISM WITH A KEY TO THE SCRIPTURES explores revolution, radicalism, marriage, sex, prostitution, politics, real estate, unions of all kinds and debts both repaid and unpayable.

Tony Kushner commented, "I have a long relationship to The Public Theater, beginning of course as an audience member when I first arrived in New York and then as a playwright, through A Bright Room Called Day, produced by Joe Papp and directed by Michael Greif; The Dybbuk, produced by George C. Wolfe; Caroline, or Change, which George produced and directed; and Mother Courage and Her Children, produced by Oskar Eustis. Oskar and I have been working together closely since the start of my career. The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide, or as I’ve been abbreviating it, iHo, has deep roots in an ongoing conversation with Oskar about life, politics and art that’s essential to my thinking and writing. Since I began working on it, this play has felt to me like it belonged at The Public.”

“There’s no theater on earth I admire more than the Signature, both for its faith in American playwrights and for its magnificent productions of our plays. Jim Houghton has enormous talent and daring, a man of marvelous collegiality and seriousness of purpose. I’m thrilled and honored to have been offered a Signature season. Now that it’s almost here, I’m also terrified, but in the nicest way. Since I began working on this play, I felt it would make a perfect choice for the new play slot in my Signature season. iHo opening in New York as part of both The Public’s and Signature’s season, co-produced by Oskar and Jim, feels so much like having my cake and eating it too that I’m embarrassed by my good fortune, and very happy."

“Tony Kushner has been a crucial part of the Public Theater family for 20 years,” said The Public Theater’s Artistic Director Oskar Eustis. “Tony's work is fiercely intelligent, deeply moral and wildly entertaining. THE INTELLIGENT HOMOSEXUAL'S GUIDE is a classic American family play, but his canvas is as large as America itself. The Public is proud to join with Signature Theater Company to produce this essential work.”

“Tony Kushner is an essential voice in the American theatre and I’ve long hoped for the opportunity to do a season together,” commented Signature Founding Artistic Director James Houghton. “We’re thrilled that Signature’s 20th season will mark the 20th anniversary of Tony’s seminal work, Angels In America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes and the New York premiere of his crushing and thrilling new play, THE INTELLIGENT HOMOSEXUAL’S GUIDE TO CAPITALISM AND SOCIALISM WITH A KEY TO THE SCRIPTURES. We look forward to partnering with Oskar Eustis and our friends at the Public on this production and it is especially exciting to have Michael Greif, who has a history with both companies, at the helm of this important work.”

"We are enormously proud of THE INTELLIGENT HOMOSEXUAL'S GUIDE, having commissioned it for the Guthrie Theater's three-month long Kushner Celebration in 2009,” said Guthrie Director Joe Dowling. “Michael Greif's original production was the centerpiece of our highly successful Celebration and I'm thrilled that its journey continues. I wish Tony, Michael, Jim and Oskar much success in the New York production."

TONY KUSHNER (Playwright). His plays include A Bright Room Called Day; Angels In America, Parts One and Two; Slavs!; Homebody/Kabul; Caroline, or Change, a musical with composer Jeanine Tesori (Public Theater/Broadway); and The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures. His adaptations include Corneille's The Illusion, S.Y. Ansky's The Dybbuk, and Brecht's The Good Person of Sezuan and Mother Courage and Her Children (Public Theater). Kushner’s films include “Angels In America,” and Munich. His books include Brundibar, illustrations by Maurice Sendak; The Art of Maurice Sendak, 1980 to the Present; and Wrestling With Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict (co-edited with Alisa Solomon). Kushner has received the Pulitzer Prize, an Emmy Award, an Oscar nomination, two Tony Awards, three Obie Awards, an Olivier Award, two Evening Standard Awards, and is the first recipient of the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award.

MICHAEL GREIF (Director) directed the world premiere of The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures at The Guthrie Theater last April. He will be directing The Winter’s Tale for The Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park this summer as well as Angels in America for Signature Theatre. His other Public Theater credits include the 2007 Shakespeare in the Park revival of Romeo and Juliet, Diana Son’s Satellites, the launch performance of Suzan-Lori Parks’s 365 Days / 365 Plays, Fucking A, Dogeaters (Obie), Marisol, Pericles, Casanova, A Bright Room Called Day, and Machinal (Obie). For Signature Theatre Company, he directed John Guare’s A Few Stout Individuals and Landscape of the Body. Greif’s Broadway credits include Jonathan Larson’s Rent (Obie Award, Tony nom.), Grey Gardens (Tony nomination) and Next to Normal (Tony nomination). He is an Artistic Associate at New York Theatre Workshop, where his credits include Cavedweller, Bright Lights, Big City, and Rent. His other Off-Broadway credits include Boy’s Life (Second Stage), Neil LaBute’s The Distance from Here and A Very Common Procedure (MCC), Neal Bell’s Spatter Pattern (Playwrights Horizons), Beauty of the Father (MTC), Mr. Marmalade (Roundabout), Betty Rules (Zipper), and Bell’s Monster (CSC). Greif has a longstanding association with the Williamstown Theatre Festival where his credits include Cherry Orchard, Three Sisters, The Seagull, Street Scene, Tonight At 8:30 and Once in a Lifetime. He was Artistic Director of La Jolla Playhouse from 1995-1999 where he directed Our Town, Sweet Bird of Youth, Diana Son’s Boy, Randy Newman’s Faust (also Goodman), Kushner’s Slavs (also Taper), and Thérèse Raquin.

THE PUBLIC THEATER (Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director; Andrew D. Hamingson, Executive Director) was founded by Joseph Papp in 1954 and is now one of the nation’s preeminent cultural institutions, producing new plays, musicals, and productions of classics at its downtown and at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. The Public’s mandate to create a theater for all New Yorkers continues to this day onstage and through extensive outreach and education programs. Each year, over 250,000 people attend Public Theater-related productions and events at six downtown stages, including Joe’s Pub, and Shakespeare in the Park. The Public has won 42 Tony Awards, 149 Obies, 40 Drama Desk Awards and four Pulitzer Prizes. The Public has brought 52 shows to Broadway, including Sticks and Bones; That Championship Season; A Chorus Line; The Pirates of Penzance; The Tempest; Bring In ‘Da Noise, Bring In ‘Da Funk; On the Town; The Ride Down Mt. Morgan; Topdog/Underdog; Elaine Stritch at Liberty; Take Me Out; Caroline, or Change; Well; Passing Strange; and, most recently, the current Tony Award-winning revival of Hair.

SIGNATURE THEATRE COMPANY (James Houghton, Founding Artistic Director; Erika Mallin, Executive Director) was founded in 1991 by James Houghton and is the first theatre company to devote a season to the work of a single playwright. Signature has presented entire seasons of Edward Albee, Lee Blessing, Horton Foote, Maria Irene Fornes, John Guare, Bill Irwin, Adrienne Kennedy, Romulus Linney, Charles Mee, Arthur Miller, Sam Shepard, Paula Vogel, August Wilson, Lanford Wilson and the historic Negro Ensemble Company. The twentieth season features the work of Tony Kushner. Since 2005, Signature has presented world-class theatre at an affordable price through The Signature Ticket Initiative, offering subsidized $20 tickets through 2011. This program is made possible by the lead sponsorship of Time Warner Inc. Signature, its productions, and its resident writers have been recognized with a Pulitzer Prize, Lucille Lortel Awards, Obie Awards, Drama Desk Awards, and AUDELCO Awards, among many other distinctions. Signature Theatre Company recently announced a new, permanent home beginning in 2012. The Frank Gehry-designed Signature Center on W. 42nd Street will feature three programs: the Master Playwright s Residency, which explores major bodies of work; the Legacy Program, which celebrates previous Signature artists, and the Emerging Playwrights Residency, which features early and mid-career playwrights.

GUTHRIE THEATER (Joe Dowling, Director) was founded by Sir Tyrone Guthrie in 1963 and is an American center for theater performance, production, education and professional training. The Tony Award-winning Guthrie Theater is dedicated to producing the great works of dramatic literature, developing the work of contemporary playwrights and cultivating the next generation of theater artists. With annual attendance of nearly 500,000 people, the Guthrie Theater presents a mix of classic plays and contemporary work on its three stages. Under the artistic leadership of Joe Dowling since 1995, the Guthrie continues to set a national standard for excellence in theatrical production and performance. In 2009 the Guthrie devoted all three of its stages to the work of Tony Kushner for simultaneous productions of Caroline, or Change, Tiny Kushner and the world premiere of The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures drawing more than 90,000 visitors for an unprecedented three-month celebration. In 2006, the Guthrie opened its new home on the banks of the Mississippi River in Minneapolis. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel, the Guthrie Theater houses three state-of-the-art stages, shops, classrooms and dramatic public lobbies.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dramaturg's Diary: Catching up with Alumni

I have been feeling immersed in Signature alumni playwrights lately, having had the honor and pleasure connecting and re-connecting with many of them at Signature’s Annual Gala on March 1st. Or, maybe they have also been on my mind because they have been positively ubiquitous these past couple of seasons, with new and past works being produced all over the country, as well as New York and abroad. Therefore, as we wrap up the 2009-2010 Season, I thought that a suitable subject for the revival of “Dramaturg’s Diary,” would be highlighting some of the recent work of our prolific past Playwrights-in-Residence.

This season saw a wealth of brand new work from our playwrights. In January 2010, Charles Mee (2007-2008) collaborated with the SITI Company and Martha Graham Dance Company on American Document, inspired by Graham’s 1938 piece of the same name. A workshop of American Document was presented in the Under the Radar Festival at The Public Theater and will be seen in June at The Joyce Theatre.

Lee Blessing’s (1992-1993) new play, When We Go Upon the Sea, opens at Philadelphia’s InterAct Theatre Company on April 19th. Signature’s bookstore is now stocking Romulus Linney: Maverick of the American Theatre by John Fleming, a new study of Signature’s Founding Playwright-in-Residence’s (1991-1992) life and work. New York’s Abingdon Theatre Company presented the world premiere of Mr. Linney’s Love Drunk in April 2009. Next season Lincoln Center Theater will present the world premiere of John Guare’s A Free Man of Color, beginning in October in the Vivian Beaumont Theater.

And of course, Horton Foote’s (1994-1995) The Orphans’ Home Cycle continues to run at Signature’s The Peter Norton Space, in a co-production with Hartford Stage.

Many plays by our playwrights found their way to New York for the first time this season, or can be anticipated soon. Sam Shepard’s Ages of the Moon recently closed at Atlantic Theatre Company. Mr. Mee’s Fetes de la Nuit was presented at The Ohio Theatre in February, and Limonade Tous Les Jours will arrive in April. Next season, Edward Albee’s Me, Myself, and I will open Playwrights Horizons' 2010-2011 Season. Further afield, Paula Vogel’s (2004-2005) A Civil War Christmas was seen at Boston’s Huntington Theatre Company in November of 2009.

Revisits to our writers’ past work have been rampant all over the country (and abroad!) this season and next season. The California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) School of Theater celebrated Adrienne Kennedy (1995-1996) with examinations of her plays Funnyhouse of a Negro, June and Jean in Concert, and Sun: A Poem for Malcolm X Inspired by His Murder. Signature is also selling limited edition autographed hard copies of Ms. Kennedy’s People Who Led to My Plays in our lobby bookstore at The Peter Norton Space. The New Group gave another look to Sam Shepard’s A Lie of the Mind, which closed this past weekend.

This week INTAR Theatre, in association with NYU’s Department of English, will begin the 2010 New York Fornes Festival, in honor of the upcoming 80th birthday of Maria Irene Fornes (1999-2000), with presentations of Ms. Fornes’s work all over Manhattan. Plays include Fefu and Her Friends, Successful Life of 3, What of the Night?, and a screening of the film, "The Rest I Make Up": Documenting Irene.

Currently running in New York is Arthur Miller’s (1997-1998) A View from the Bridge, which can be seen on Broadway at the Cort Theatre until April 4th. After that it will make room for August Wilson’s (2006-2007) Fences, which begins on April 14th. Also in April, Charles Mee’s collage ode to collage artist Robert Raushenberg, bobrauschenbergamerica, arrives at Dance Theatre Workshop.

Signature playwrights have been active overseas as well: if you happen to be in London, John Guare’s (1998-1999) Six Degrees of Separation can currently be seen at The Old Vic and Lanford Wilson’s (2002-2003) Serenading Louie is running at The Donmar Warehouse. Mr. Wilson’s Fifth of July will be seen at Williamstown Theatre Festival this summer, The Hot L Baltimore at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company in March of 2011, and a revival of Talley’s Folly will hit Broadway next season as well.

Mr. Albee will also be honored at Washington D.C.’s Arena Stage, who will celebrate Mr. Albee over the course of three months with readings of all thirty of his plays and productions of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and At Home at the Zoo. Finally, Chicago’s Court Theatre will present Samm-Art Williams’s (NEC Season, 2008-2009) Home in November 2010.

In addition to their thriving writing careers, many of our playwrights give of themselves as teachers, mentors, producers, directors, even performers. Leslie Lee (NEC Season, 2008-2009), when he has not been attending every Signature alumni event and opening night this season, has been managing director of The Negro Ensemble Company, who presented his Sundown Names and Night Gone Things at the Castillo Theatre in May 2009. Bill Irwin (2003-2004) was featured in Roundabout Theatre Company’s revival of the musical Bye Bye Birdie, which ran from September 2009 until January 2010 at the Henry Miller Theatre on Broadway. Charles Fuller (NEC Season, 2008-2009) has been supporting new work and the rising generation of playwrights, mentoring The Belle of Belfast by Nate Rufus Edelman as part of The Cherry Lane Mentor Project.

I’m afraid this list does not even scratch the surface of our playwright’s activity this season and next. Suffice to say that it seems to have been a banner year for our writers. Congratulations to all of our past Playwrights-in-Residence on their current and future projects, and looking forward to seeing you at the theatre.