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SIGNATURE THEATRE COMPANY Founding Artistic Director James Houghton announces Sam Shepard as Playwright in Residence for the 1996-'97 Signature Theatre Company season.

The Sam Shepard/Signature Theatre Company season will include a roster of four productions, encompassing seven plays; two films -- FAR NORTH (1988) and SILENT TONGUE (1992); a season benefit with readings from Mr. Shepard's work read by the playwright; an evening with Sam Shepard and Joseph Chaikin reading selections from their evening of short stories, poems and monologues from Mr. Shepard's MOTEL CHRONICLES, HAWK MOON and CRUISING PARADISE (1996). In all, the Sam Shepard/Signature Theatre Company season will reflect 32 years of Mr. Shepard's work, spanning 1965 through 1997.

Founded in 1991, Signature Theatre Company is the only company in the country which devotes an entire season to the exploration of a single American playwright in residence. The past five seasons have focused on the work of resident playwrights Romulus Linney (1991-92), Lee Blessing (1992-93), Edward Albee (1993-94), Horton Foote (1994-95), and Adrienne Kennedy (1995-96).

The New York Shakespeare Festival Producer George C. Wolfe is pleased to announce that the Joseph Papp Public Theater will serve as interim home for the Signature Theatre Company's 1996-'97 season.

1996-'97 SEASON

The season will open with two one-act plays, the New York Premiere production of WHEN THE WORLD WAS GREEN (A CHEF'S FABLE), written by Sam Shepard and long-time collaborator Josheph Chaikin, and a revival of the Obie Award-winning CHICAGO, both directed by Joseph Chaikin. WHEN THE WORLD WAS GREEN (A CHEF'S FABLE) will be presented in association with Seven Stages Theatre of Atlanta and will receive its World Premiere at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

The original Obie Award-winning production of CHICAGO was first performed in April of 1965 at Theatre Genesis, St. Mark's Church in the Bowery, and later performed at La MaMa.
Performances begin October 22nd at the Joseph Papp Public Theater.

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The season production will be a rewritten revival of THE TOOTH OF CRIME, directed by long-time collaborator Bill Hart, with all new music and lyrics by the award-winning composer T. Bone Burnett. The production will be co-produced with Second Stage Theatre (Carole Rothman, Artistic Direcor). THE TOOTH OF CRIME received its world premiere at the Open Space, London, on July 17, 1972 with original music by Mr. Shepard.
Performances begin November 1st at the Lucille Lortel Theatre.

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The Sam Shepard/Signature Theatre Company season will also include a world Premiere production of a new full-length play directed by James Houghton.
Performances will begin January 28th, 1997.

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The season will conclude with the one-act plays ACTION and KILLER'S HEAD (both produced at the American Place Theatre in 1975), and THE SAD LAMENT OF PECOS BILL ON THE EVE OF KILLING HIS WIFE, a one-act musical with music and lyrics by Catherine Stone (first presented at La MaMa in 1983, with subsequent 1984 performances at Los Angeles' Zephyr Theatre and San Francisco's Magic Theatre).
Performances begin April 15, 1997.

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SAM SHEPARD (1996-1997 Playwright in Residence) had his first New York plays, Cowboys and Rock Garden, produced by Theatre Genesis in 1963. For several reasons, he worked with Off Off-Broadway theater groups including La MaMa and Caffe Cino. Eleven of his plays have won Obie Awards including Chicago and Icarus's Mother (1965); Red Cross and La Turista (1966); Forensic and the Navigators and Melodrama Play (1967); The Tooth of Crime (1972); Action (1974); and Curse of the Starving Class (1976). Mr. Shepard was awarded a Pulitzer Prize as well as an Obie Award for his play Buried Child (1979). Fool for Love (1982) reveived the Obie for Best Play as well as for Direction. A Lie of the Mind (1985) won the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award in 1986 and the 1986 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Play. States of Shock premiered at the American Place Theatre in 1991 and a new play, Simpatico, transferred to the Royal Court Theatre after its premier at the New York Shakespeare Festival. He is currently completing When the World was Green (A Chef's Fable) to premiere at the Olympic Arts Festival in Atlanta 1996 with his long-time collaborator, Joseph Chaikin. Mr. Shepard wrote the screenplays for Zabriskie Point; Wim Wender's Paris, Texas; and Robert Altman's Fool for Love, a film version of his play of the same title. As writer/director, Mr. Shepard filmed Far North and Silent Tongue in 1988 and 1992, respectively. As an actor he has appeared in the films Days of Heaven, Resurrection, Raggedy Man, The Right Stuff, Frances, Country, Fool for Love, Crimes of the Heart, Baby Boom, Steel Magnolias, Bright Angel, Defenseless, Voyager, Thunderheart, The Pelican Brief and Safe Passage. In 1986, Mr. Shepard was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1992, he received the Gold Medal for Drama from the Academy and in 1994 was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame. Mr. Shepard is currently represented on Broadway with a revival of Buried Child, directed by Gary Sinise.

With its sixth season, Signature Theatre Company continues to focus on the work of one playwright in residence, offering audiences an opportunity to experience each playwright in the context of a representation of a body of their work. Signature Theatre Company is the recipient of numerous award, including: The Pulitzer Prizes for Playwriting in 1995 awarded to Horton Foote for The Young Man from Atlanta and in 1994 to Edward Albee during his residency at Signature for Three Tall Women produced by The Vineyard Theatre; a 1994-'95 Drama Critics' Circle Special Citation to Signature Theatre for Outstanding Artistic Achievement; The Outer Critics Circle Special Achievement Award for the Horton Foote Plays; 1995 Lucille Lortel Awards to Horton Foote for Individual Body of Work and to Signature Theatre Company for Institutional Body of Work; a 1996 Honorary Drama Desk Award for its unique concept which annually serves one playwright; and Obie Awards for Sustained achievment for Playwriting awarded to Romulus Linney and Edward Albee upon conclusion of their Signature seasons, and to Adrienne Kennedy for Best New American Plays: June & Jean in Concert and Sleep Deprivation Chamber, co-written with her son Adam Kennedy.

With the exception of THE TOOTH OF CRIME, which will be presented as a co-production with Second Stage Theatre, the Sam Shepard/Signature Theatre Company season will perform at The Joseph Papp Public Theater's Susan Stein Shiva Theater (425 Lafayette Street). For further information on becoming a subscriber to Signature Theatre Company, please call (212) 967-1913.

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