|Lunch on the stage in the soon-to-be-finished End Stage Theatre at Signature Theatre|
All this will be in service to those of us who make sense of the world through words spoken in a big dark room, who inhabit a neighborhood of voices and walk just one block from crazy, who approach the work half-crippled with fear and electrified by arrogance, in equal measure. "Theater begins with the written word," Signature's founding artistic director, Jim Houghton, told us.
The entire complex, he said, will support Signature's dedication to the playwright -- seasons that focus on the early and current work of a single writer who is in residence and engaged in the creative process and five-year residencies for several playwrights that focus on new work."Every square inch of this place is tied to mission," he said.
The opening is scheduled for February 2012, kicking off a season of work by Athol Fugard, Edward Albee, Katori Hall, Will Eno and Kenneth Lonergan.
Playwright John Guare talked about Signature's artistic legacy. "Signature revived the career of Horton Foote. It restored Edward Albee to his rightful place of prominence in the American theater," he said, adding that Tennessee Williams, in the last 20 years of his life "had no base, no home" to nurture his creativity. "Signature is so unfashionable" in producing a range of a playwright's work, he said. "Usually you are as good as your last play," he added.
|Architect Frank Gehry: "With all the insanity going on in the world, it's nice to be involved with sanity."|
|A rendering of the Signature Theater lobby, next to the tools and materials that will make it happen.|
Among the dramatic initiatives at Signature is its Access Ticket program, which will make tickets available at every performance for $25. This can't happen without the generosity of donors and among the major gifts announced were $5 million from John and Amy Griffin to name one of the theaters after John's mother, theater writer Alice Griffin; a $5 million gift from writer Margot Adams that will name the main theater after Signature founding playwright Romulus Linney and $3 million from Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg to name the lobby grand staircase.
In keeping with the spirit of the ticket initiative, which seeks to answer the question of actor and board member Edward Norton - " Is theatre for all of us, or is it just for the very few?" - I'd like to make a suggestion about the bookstore.
Signature Theatre -- is it worth a thought?