The Signature Theatre Company will populate its 2012 season at the brand-new Signature Center with three Athol Fugard dramas, as well as premieres by Edward Albee, Kenneth Lonergan, Will Eno and Katori Hall.

Fugard’s 1961 play Blood Knot will open the season Jan. 31, 2012. The Tony-winning South African playwright will direct his work about two biracial brothers during the apartheid. Also planned is Fugard’s 1989 work about racial tensions, My Children! My Africa!, to be directed by Tony Award winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Seven Guitars, Stick Fly). It will begin performances May 1, 2012.

Fugard will also direct the New York premiere of The Train Driver, which had its South African world premiere in 2010 at the theatre named in his honor. The two-man drama centers on a grief-stricken train driver searching for the identities of a mother and child he unintentionally killed. Previews begin Aug. 14, 2012.

Patricia McGregor will direct the world premiere of Mountaintop playwright Hall’s Hurt Village, which will begin Feb. 7, 2012. According to the Signature, “It’s the end of a long summer in Hurt Village, a housing project in Memphis, Tennessee. A government Hope Grant means relocation for many of the project’s residents, including Cookie, a thirteen year-old aspiring rapper, along with her mother Crank and great-grandmother Big Mama. As the family prepares to move, Cookie’s father Buggy unexpectedly returns from a tour of duty in Iraq. Ravaged by the war, Buggy struggles to find a position in his disintegrating community, along with a place in his daughter’s wounded heart.”

David Esbjornson (The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia?) will direct the world premiere of Tony and Pulitzer Prize winner Albee’s Laying an Egg, which will begin previews Feb. 14, 2012. Here’s how the work is billed: “Faced with a domineering mother, an adoring husband, and the damning conditions of her late father’s will, a middle-aged woman renews her vow to get pregnant with chaotic results.

Middletown playwright Eno will be represented with the U.S. premiere of Title and Deed, to be directed by Judy Hegarty Lovett beginning May 1, 2012. According to the Signature, “A nameless traveler from a far off place searches for connection and solace in an unknown country in this funny and sad meditation on mortality, loneliness, innocence, home, family, love, funerals, words, and the world.”

Beginning May 15, 2012, the Signature will stage an untitled world premiere by Academy Award nominee Lonergan (“You Can Count On Me,” This Is Our Youth, The Starry Messenger).

The Signature has also announced the creation of A Decade of Access, a new ticket initiative that will price all seats at $25 for the initially scheduled performances of each production for the next ten years. Single tickets are normally priced $75 prior to extensions.

The 2012 season marks the organization’s first at the Signature Center, a new 70,000 square foot venue, with three intimate theatres and a studio theatre designed by acclaimed architect Frank Gehry, located at 480 West 42nd Street.

For tickets and more information visit SignatureTheatre.

Written on October 10th, 2011 , Events

On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was shot to death on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. Since then, Room 306, where he’d spent the previous night, has become a shrine. “There are very few places on Earth where time stopped,” says David Gallo, the scenic designer for The Mountaintop, a play set on the last night of King’s life that opens October 13. Since 1991, the motel has been the National Civil Rights Museum, and the room, virtually untouched, is viewable through glass. For his work on the play, Gallo was allowed inside the room, spending eight hours measuring and photographing every fixture, wall panel, and cigarette burn. He walked us through his work.












Written on October 10th, 2011 , Media

The playwright makes her Broadway debut with “The Mountaintop”

Playwright Katori Hall has the best kind of laugh—a loud explosion that almost forces you to laugh along. During a recent phone interview, she was so buoyant and effusive, laughing at herself and her own good fortune, that it was easy to imagine her slapping five with passers-by.

She’s got plenty of reasons to be in a good mood. The Signature Theatre just announced she’s one of five playwrights to receive a five-year residency award, meaning Signature will produce three of her plays in the next five years while offering health insurance and other support.

More immediately, Hall’s debuting on Broadway with The Mountaintop, now in previews at the Bernard Jacobs. The play imagines a meeting between Martin Luther King, Jr. (Samuel L. Jackson) and a mysterious hotel maid (Angela Bassett), and when it premiered on London’s West End, it won the 2010 Olivier Award for Best Play—the equivalent of a Tony.


Because of this success—and the movie stars speaking her lines—there are high expectations for Hall’s Broadway bow, but if she’s nervous, she’s hiding it well. “I’ve written so many other things that I don’t feel like I’m putting all my eggs in one basket,” she says. “Maybe that’s why I’m not nervous. I’m thinking about a larger body of work, and The Mountaintop is just the beginning of presenting that body of work.”

That attitude has defined her involvement with this production. She’s been present in rehearsals, but she’s been hands-off. “After the table work, after I’ve answered questions about the text, I have to step away and let them do their job because I’ve already done my job,” she says. “I allow myself not to be there because they need to discover the play on their own. It’s not about me imposing what I think the play should be or what I think the play has been.”

She might not feel the same if The Mountaintop were still in development, but since the play’s had two full productions and many staged readings, it’s essentially complete. “It’s very important for a playwright to be able to give her baby over,” Hall says. “For me, it’s the third time I’ve given the baby over. The first time, it was like, ‘Oh, we’re going to Kindergarten, Mom.’ I was in the room and hands-on because they were a small kid. And then they went to junior high when the play was on the West End. Now I feel like the play is going off to college, and I really need to wave from the car and say, ‘Bye bye, honey. Go do your work. Go make your own life.’”

But even “from the car,” Hall is learning things about the show. In her script, Camae, the maid, is described as a woman in her 20s, and Hall initially balked at the idea of Bassett, 53, playing the role. “When Angela came into audition, I thought, ‘Oh, she’s of a certain age. I’m really committed to finding a younger actress,’” she recalls. “But what I was actually looking for was someone who could defer to King. I was looking for this quality that young people have when they are in the midst of power. They sometimes kowtow, they’re sometimes very shy, they shrink themselves.”

She continues, “When [Bassett] auditioned and played all these colors, I thought, ‘Oh, that’s what I was looking for.’ Because there were some actresses who were very young who came in and didn’t do that.

“At this point, I’m excited to see new chemistry between two completely different actors. I’m very open to things playing out in different ways.”

Written on October 10th, 2011 , Media

The Lark Play Development Center will host a special event on October 11th celebrating playwright Katori Hall on her Broadway debut with The Mountaintop. (The Mountaintop was extensively developed at the Lark.) Lark board member and playwright Sandi Goff Farkas will also be honored at the October 11th event with the first every Lark Risktaker Award for her creation of the Playwrights of New York (PONY) Fellowship. The Risktaker Award recognizes the leadership, vision and commitment of an individual who has defied convention in making a major contribution to supporting daring new voices in the American theater.

The evening will include a pre-show party and award presentation at the Lark’s new midtown Manhattan home, followed by a performance of Hall’s The Mountaintop, featuring Angela Bassett and Samuel L. Jackson. Tickets are $1,000 each and benefit Lark’s extensive program portfolio fostering bold voices in the American theater. Tickets are extremely limited. For information about the event, visit: or call Lark’s Development Manager Deborah Philips at 212-246-2676 x227.

The PONY Fellowship was born out of a partnership between the Lark and Playwrights of New York, a not-for-profit organization founded by Sandi Goff Farkas. This one-of-a-kind opportunity deepens support for emerging writers by providing housing for a year in the PONY apartment, a monthly living stipend, and extensive artistic support at the Lark followed by two years of additional support and advocacy.

Katori Hall was the third recipient of the PONY Fellowship. During Hall’s time as the PONY Fellow, she developed a number of works including Children of Killers, Our Lady of Kibeho, Pussy Valley and The Mountaintop, which was presented as a Lark BareBones® before receiving a full production on London’s West End for which it won the 2010 Olivier Award for Best New Play.

She said of the experience, “When I told my Lark family this story [about The Mountaintop] they gave me space and the artistic support I needed to tell a very personal and important story that was inspired by our history. The greatest cocoon that they gave me was the PONY Fellowship-the ultimate gift for a writer who is desperate to do just that-write.”

Katori Hall is an award-winning playwright hailing from Memphis, TN. She has been involved with the Lark since 2006 and was awarded the PONY Fellowship in 2009. In 2011, Hall received the Susan Smith Blackburn prize of her play Hurt Village, and was inducted into the Fellowship of Southern Writers. Katori is a member of the Ron Brown Scholar Program, a graduate of Columbia, Harvard, and the Juilliard School. Katori was recently added to the Lark’s Board of Directors.

Sandi Goff Farkas came to the Lark as a playwright in 2005 to develop her plays and has been part of the growth and development of the organization ever since. She is a Lark Board Member, a writer for stage and film, and a visionary in supporting new work for the theater. In 2007 she founded Playwrights of New York (PONY), an organization dedicated to supporting emerging playwrights. In partnership with the Lark, she created the PONY Fellowship.

About the Lark Play Development Center. A laboratory for new voices and new ideas, the Lark provides playwrights with indispensable resources to develop their work, nurturing artists at all stages in their careers, and inviting them to express themselves freely in a supportive and rigorous environment. The Lark reaches into untapped local populations and across international and cultural boundaries to seek out and embrace unheard voices and diverse perspectives, celebrating differences in language and worldviews. By encouraging artists to define their own goals and creative processes in pursuit of a unique vision, we believe we are reinvigorating the theater’s ancient and enduring role as a public forum for discussion, debate and community engagement.

Playwrights of New York (PONY). Founded by Sandi Goff Farkas, Playwrights of New York seeks to provide revolutionary support for playwrights by economically freeing them to pursue their careers. Through the Playwrights of New York Fellowship, in partnership with the Lark Play Development Center, PONY provides playwrights with a year of housing, living stipend, and artistic support as well as continued support in the two years following the Fellowship. PONY Fellows include: Carson Kreizter (2007), Samuel D. Hunter (2008), Katori Hall (2009), Tommy Smith (1010), A. Rey Pamatmat (2011) and Special Jury Prize winner Tarell Alvin McCraney (2009).

Written on October 10th, 2011 , Events
Katori Hall on Twitter