Signature Theatre announces its 2019-2020 season

Signature Theatre presents six new productions at Pershing Square Signature Center, including two world premieres and a New York premiere.

Anna Deavere Smith, Katori Hall & Dominique Morisseau

Signature Theatre has revealed details for the six new productions which will form the company's upcoming 2019-2020 Off-Broadway season at Pershing Square Signature Center. The season includes two world premieres and one New York premiere production and five out of the six offerings come from female playwrights.

Artistic Director Paige Evans commented: “I’m delighted to be bringing Anna Deavere Smith to Signature next season. Anna revolutionized the theatrical form with her groundbreaking documentary work, and it will be fascinating to see how these two seminal plays resonate today. I’m also thrilled to welcome Lauren Yee as a Residency 5 playwright, and to welcome back Katori Hall and Dominique Morisseau for world premieres. The season will also include the first NYC revival of Horton Foote’s beautiful, moving play The Young Man from Atlanta. I can’t wait to share all of this exciting work with our audiences.”

In season order, the six new productions of Signature Theatre's 2019-2020 Off-Broadway season are as follows:

From October 22 to November 24, 2019, Signature presents Fires in the Mirror, written by Anna Deavere Smith and directed by Saheem Ali, at The Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre.

Synopsis: "What wins in a fight – you, the argument on the other side, or the truth? Following the deaths of an African-American boy and a young Orthodox Jewish scholar in the summer of 1991, underlying racial tensions in the nestled community of Crown Heights, Brooklyn erupted into civil outbreak. As much provocation as it is exploration, Fires in the Mirror was Anna Deavere Smith’s groundbreaking response. Birthed from a series of interviews with almost fifty members of the Jewish and Black communities, the Drama Desk award-winning work translated their voices verbatim, and in the process revolutionized the genre of documentary theatre."

From November 5 to December 8, 2019, Signature presents The Young Man from Atlanta, written by Horton Foote and directed by Michael Wilson at The Irene Diamond Stage.

Synopsis: "Danger waits just underneath the surface in Horton Foote’s powerful, Pulitzer Prize-winning drama of an aging couple still reeling from the death of their only child. Set against the backdrop of a rapidly modernizing 1950s Houston, the Kidder family’s lives are turned upside down once again when a figure from their son’s past shows up in town. They deny, deflect and deceive in an effort to avoid the danger but can’t avoid the inevitable reckoning. How far will these grieving parents go to avoid the truths this young man from Atlanta might reveal? The Young Man from Atlanta is a beautiful, heartbreaking play that explores and dissects the American dream while revealing the depths we go to in order to keep ourselves safe."

From February 4 to March 8, 2020, Signature presents the New York premiere of Cambodian Rock Band, written by Lauren Yee and directed by Chay Yew, at The Irene Diamond Stage.

Synopsis: "Guitars tuned. Mic checked. Get ready to rock. This electric new play with music tells the story of a Khmer Rouge survivor returning back to Cambodia for the first time in thirty years as his daughter prepares to help prosecute one of Cambodia's most infamous war criminals. Backed by a live band playing contemporary Dengue Fever hits and classic Cambodian oldies, this thrilling story toggles back and forth in time, as father and daughter face the music of the past. Cambodian Rock Band is an intimate rock epic about family secrets, set against a dark chapter of Cambodian history."

From February 11 to March 15, 2020, Signature Theatre presents the world premiere comedy The Hot Wing King, written by Katori Hall and directed by Steve H. Broadnax III, at The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre.

Synopsis: "Ready, set, fry! It’s time for the annual Hot Wang Festival in Memphis, Tennessee, and Cordell Crutchfield knows he has the wings that’ll make him king. Supported by his beau Dwayne and their culinary clique, The New Wing Order, Cordell is marinating and firing up his frying pan in a bid to reclaim the crispy crown. When Dwayne takes in his troubled nephew however, it becomes a recipe for disaster. Suddenly, a first place trophy isn’t the only thing Cordell risks losing."

From April 28 to May 31, 2020, Signature Theatre presents a second piece by Anna Deavere Smith Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, directed by Taibi Magar, at The Irene Diamond Stage.

Synopsis: "One verdict can change the course of history. The news of the police officers’ acquittal in Rodney King’s police brutality case reverberated throughout the streets of Los Angeles. Variously called a “riot, a revolution, or a social explosion,” the events that followed the verdict drew worldwide attention. Playwright, actor and scholar Anna Deavere Smith responded artistically by dissecting the anatomy of the unrest. She interviewed over 350 Los Angelinos in preparation for the performance. Smith’s transformative study of the 1992 L.A. riots reveals the fault lines that set the city ablaze. Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 is equal parts meticulously researched reportage and stirring cry for reform."

Finally, from May 12 to June 14, 2020, Signature Theatre concludes its 2018-2019 season with the world premiere drama Confederates, written by Dominique Morisseau and directed by Kamilah Forbes, at The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre.

Synopsis: "Sarah, a savvy slave turned Union spy, and Sandra, a brilliant professor in a modern-day private university, are facing similar struggles, even though they live over a century apart. Confederates leaps through time in order to trace the identities of these two black American women and explore the reins their racial and gender bias still hold on American educational systems today."

Casting and creative team information for all productions will be announced at a later date.

(Photos by Gregory Costanzo)