Signature Theatre continues our tenth anniversary celebration with the New York premiere of Sam Shepard's newest play The Late Henry Moss. Shepard directed the play's first production at the Magic Theatre in December of 2000, and has now turned to his longtime collaborator Joseph Chaikin to direct the New York premiere in a new production as Signature. Shepard was Signature's Playwright-in-Residence for Signature's sixth season, 1996-1997, when the company was in residence at the Public Theater. The Shepard season included productions of seven of Shepard's plays including the newest Shepard/Chaikin collaboration, When the World Was Green (A Chef's Fable), and a reworking of The Tooth of Crime.
Sam Shepard has a long history of collaboration with director Joseph Chaikin that includes the creation of the works Tongues (1978), Savage/Love (1979), The War in Heaven (1983), and When the World was Green (A Chef's Fable) (1996). Chaikin, an actor and director, founded the influential experimental theater group the Open Theater in 1963 after working as an actor with the Living Theater. For nearly a decade, the Open Theater devoted itself to the collaborative creation of drama, producing such seminal works as Megan Terr's Viet Rock (1966), Jean Claude van Itallie's The Serpent (1969), and Susan Yankovitz' Terminal (1970). Chaikin is a six-time Obie Award recipient, including the very first Lifetime Achievement Obie awarded by the Villiage Voice in 1977. His other many awards and distinctions include two Guggenheim Fellowships, the National Endowment for the Arts' first Annual Distinguished Service to American Theater Award, the Edwin Booth Award, and honorary Ph.D.'s from Drake University and Kent State University. His book, The Presence of the Actor, was re-released by TCG Publications in 1991, and his work is further documented in many publications and in the film Going On, by Steve Gomer.
In 1984, Chaikin underwent open heart surgery and experienced a stroke resulting in aphasia. His recovery process has been the source of inspiration for several theatrical pieces, including the Shepard/Chaikin collaboration The War in Heaven, The Traveler (by Jean-Claude van Itallie) and Night Sky (developed with Susan Yankowitz). He has continued to direct productions and conduct workshops and seminars throughout the United States, Europe, the Middle East and South Africa.
The Late Henry Moss marks Chaikin's fourth time working at Signature; previous productions include Adrienne Kennedy's A Movie Star Has to Star in Black and White, When the World Was Green (A Chef's Fable), (a collaboration with Shepard), and Arthur Miller's The Last Yankee and I Can't Remember Anything.