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Edward Norton Previews Inaugural Season at Signature Center, Featuring New Play From Edward Albee

Edward Norton Previews Inaugural Season at Signature Center, Featuring New Play From Edward Albee
Edward Norton, Edward Albee & Tony Kushner
The newly constructed Signature Center will open with Athol Fugard's 'Blood Knot.'

The Signature Theatre Company has revealed initial plans for seven productions, including a world premiere by Edward Albee, during its upcoming inaugural season at the new Signature Center. Signature veterans such as Michael Urie, Lois Smith and Frank Wood donned hard hats during a September 28 press conference in the theater's still-under-construction space as board member Edward Norton took to the podium to speak about the company's future.

“I have no words to describe how exciting it is to be involved as a part of this journey,” Norton said, noting the new building will allow the company to explore playwrights' work in the manner similar to art museums displaying the works of famous painters. “We’ve never had the opportunity to examine bodies of work in the theater in the same way that we have come to expect from other cultural forms of expression. The theater needed an institution in which you could see the works of Edward Albee or Tony Kushner examined as a landscape in their own right.”

The company will launch its previously announced Residency One series of works from South African playwright Athol Fugard with a production of Blood Knot directed by Fugard himself. Previews begin January 31, 2012.

Angels in America scribe Tony Kushner, who served as last year’s Playwright in Residence at the Signature’s former home, the Peter Norton Space, was on hand to laud Fugard. “It’s a Miss America kind of thing, to pass the scepter and tiara on,” he joked of his speech, “but I’m still waiting for my scepter and tiara.” Kushner praised Fugard’s work saying he “has had a profound effect” on international theater and “showed us how an outrageous, appalling injustice need not cripple articulation or art.”

Set in a one-room shack in South Africa, Blood Knot follows two biracial brothers grappling with extreme poverty and lonely isolation. My Children! My Africa! will follow beginning May 1, 2012 with a production directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson. Written in 1989, the play presents a portrait of South Africa on the brink of revolution and the end of apartheid. The New York premiere of Fugard’s The Train Driver will begin afterward on August 14, 2012.

Signature’s Legacy program begins with the world premiere of Edward Albee’s Laying an Egg. Directed by David Esbjornson, performances will begin on February 14, 2012. When asked what the play is about, Albee, who was the focus of Signature's 1994 season, cracked, “Laying an Egg!” Press notes reveal the play follows a middle-aged woman faced with a domineering mother, adoring husband and damning conditions of her late father’s will, as she renews her vow to get pregnant.

The Signature’s previously announced Residency Five program, which promises to produce at least three works each from playwrights Katori Hall, Annie Baker, Regina Taylor, Will Eno and Kenneth Lonergan will begin with the world premiere of Hall’s Hurt Village. Directed by Patricia McGregor, the show begins its run February 7, 2012. The play follows a soldier who returns to the housing projects where he grew up in Memphis to learn that many of the residents are being forced to relocate.

“I’ve been working on so many different things and have a pile of plays in the corner,” said Hall, whose play The Mountaintop is currently in previews at Broadway’s Jacobs Theatre. “I’m looking forward to being prolific,” she laughed. “I’m being forced into being prolific!”

The Residency Five series continues with the U.S. Premiere of Will Eno’s Title and Deed. The Judy Hegarty Lovett-directed production begins May 8, 2012. Title and Deed tells the story of a nameless traveler from a far off place who searches for connection and solace in an unknown country

A currently unnamed new play from Lonergan will begin previews May 15, 2012.

Designed by Frank Gehry, the Signature Center will feature the 299-seat End Stage Theatre as well as the 199-seat theaters, the Alice Griffin Jewel Box (which is modeled after an opera house) and the Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre in addition to a bookstore, rehearsal studio and theater and public café.

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