Dave Malloy and Gelsey Bell in "Ghost Quartet." (Photo by James Monaco)

Signature Season to Include Its First Musical, From Dave Malloy

Also on the slate are two comedies by Lynn Nottage and revivals of work by former resident playwrights Athol Fugard, Will Eno, and Sam Shepard.

NEW YORK CITY: Signature Theatre has announced its 2018-19 season of works by current and former resident authors, including a world premiere from writer/composer Dave Malloy and revivals of plays by Lynn Nottage, Will Eno, Athol Fugard, and Sam Shepard.

“I’m so happy to be bringing Lynn Nottage and Dave Malloy to Signature next season,” said Paige Evans, Signature’s artistic director. “Lynn is known for tackling weighty subjects in her work, but she also has a wonderful sense of humor, so it’s terrific to start her Residency 1 here next season with two comedies. And with Dave, we’ll be producing Signature’s first full-fledged musical! We’ll also travel from an existential no-man’s land to the South African wastelands and on to the American Southwest through the beautiful writing of Will Eno, Athol Fugard, and Sam Shepard. It should be an exciting season.”

The season kicks off with a “legacy program” offering from former resident playwright Will Eno, Thom Pain (based on nothing) (Oct. 23-Dec. 2), directed by Oliver Butler. This surreal yet very real one-man show follows the title character as he desperately, and hilariously, tries to save his own life—or at least make it into something worth dying for.

Next is a revival of current resident playwright Lynn Nottage’s Fabulation, or The Re-Education of Undine (Nov. 20-Dec. 30), directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. This satirical tale, set in present-day New York City, follows successful African-American publicist Undine as she stumbles down the social ladder after her husband steals her hard-earned fortune.

Following is a revival of Nottage’s By the Way, Meet Vera Stark (Jan. 29-March 10, 2019), directed by Kamilah Forbes. This comedy, set during the Golden Age of Hollywood, follows an aspiring starlet who works as a maid to Gloria Mitchell, an aging star with a fading career, and through her gets the break of a lifetime, though decades later scholars and film buffs grapple with her legacy and the impact that race had on her controversial career.

(A new play by Lynn Nottage is slated for the Signature’s 2019-20 season as part of her residency there.)

Legacy program resident writer Athol Fugard’s Boesman and Lena is next (Feb. 5-March 17, 2019). This play about the human need for kindness, hope, and compassion in this tale of the abusive Boesman and his long-suffering wife Lena, who encounter a stranger while wandering the South African wastelands.

Next is another legacy playwright offering, Sam Shepard’s Curse of the Starving Class (April 23-June 2, 2019), directed by Terry Kinney, about a rural California family that’s struggling and desperate for change.

The season concludes with Dave Malloy’s Octet (Apr. 30-June 9, 2019), with direction by Annie Tippe. With a score for an a cappella chamber choir and an original libretto inspired by internet comment boards, scientific debates, religious texts, and Sufi poetry, Octet is billed as an exploration addiction and nihilism within the messy context of 21st century technology.

The Signature Theatre celebrates playwrights and gives them an artistic home, making extended commitments to playwrights’ bodies of work. All tickets are $35 for each show’s initial run, thanks to Signature Ticket Initiative.