James Houghton, Richard Rodgers Director of the Juilliard Drama Division; Founding Artistic Director
Signature Theatre is one of the foremost theater companies in New York City with an international reputation for excellence. It is the first theater company to devote each season of productions to the work of a single living playwright and has been honored with over 85 major awards.
Signature was founded by artistic director James Houghton in 1991 to honor and celebrate the playwright. The company makes an extended commitment to a playwright’s body of work, and during this journey, uniquely engages the writer in every aspect of the creative process. In its first 20 years, Signature honored 15 playwrights-in-residence with full seasons as well as return engagements through its Legacy Program, which invites former playwrights-in-residence back to present both new and signature works.
In 2005, Signature launched the groundbreaking Signature Ticket Initiative to break down the economic barrier to theater-going. Through the Ticket Initiative, every seat for every performance of every production during the initial run is accessible and affordable to the public. With current ticket prices being $25, the impact of the Initiative has been shown to attract new, younger, and more diverse audiences, and has emerged as an international model for arts accessibility.
In January 2012, the Pershing Square Signature Center opened as the permanent home of Signature Theatre and the largest new theater arts center in New York City in decades. Designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, the Center spans an entire block on West 42nd Street, and features three theaters; a shared, interactive lobby with Signature café, bookstore, and media wall; a state-of-the-art studio theater; a rehearsal studio; and administrative offices all in 75,000 square feet of contiguous space. The Center was made possible through a unique public/private partnership with the City of New York, the developer Related Companies, and Signature.
In conjunction with the Opening of the Center, Signature introduced Residency Five, a new five-year residency for multiple playwrights that guarantees each writer three premiere productions. This program joins Signature’s original year-long residency, now known as Residency One, and the Legacy Program, and is the only program of its kind for the development of new work in the United States. Upon moving to the Center, Signature also extended its revolutionary Ticket Initiative with A Generation of Access, an unprecedented commitment by Signature and lead partner, the Pershing Square Foundation, to making all Signature productions affordable for the next 20 years. The Center has made an indelible impact on New York’s cultural landscape, and has become an iconic cultural destination that is accessible to all.