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Paige Evans. (Photo by Marc J. Franklin)

Signature Theatre Artistic Director Paige Evans to Step Down

A new-play leader who succeeded founder James Houghton and weathered the pandemic lockdown, she leaves the helm after 8 years.

NEW YORK CITY: Signature Theatre has announced that artistic director Paige Evans will step down in June, having led the company since 2016, through the transition from the institution’s founder, James Houghton, and the Covid pandemic lockdown.

“I’ve been profoundly privileged to serve Signature’s extraordinary community of artists, board, colleagues, audiences, and donors over the past eight years,” said Evans in a statement. “I’m deeply grateful to them all and proud of everything we’ve accomplished together. Now, having led Signature through challenging transitions and achieved what I set out to do artistically, it’s time for me to reflect, work on freelance projects for the first time in my career, and take on new opportunities.”

At Signature, Evans produced eight seasons of award-winning and critically acclaimed shows and brought gifted writers to Signature for its distinctive residencies, including Melis Aker, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Samuel D. Hunter, Dave Malloy (Signature’s first musical theatre writer), Dominique Morisseau, Lynn Nottage, Sarah Ruhl, Anna Deavere Smith, Lauren Yee, and the Mad Ones.

Signature playwright-in-residence Anna Deavere Smith said of Evans in a statement, “I loved working with Paige during the remounting of my plays Fires in the Mirror and Twilight. Her searing and perceptive intelligence were invaluable. We need allies in the trenches of art production. I am grateful that she is one of mine.”

“As a director, resident writer, and trustee at Signature, I’m filled with enduring gratitude for Paige’s tenacious stewardship these past eight years,” said Lila Neugebauer in a statement. “Her commitment to artists is uniquely steadfast, characterized by a genuine belief in the value of creative risk-taking. Her resilience and indefatigable spirit have been invaluable to Signature’s very survival in the face of the pandemic’s challenges. Paige is a leader of courage, mettle, and integrity, and I cannot wait to see what she does next.”

New artistic programs launched during her tenure included an education program for high school and college students, SigSpace lobby programming, and, with generous support of former trustee Pablo Salame and the estate of Judith Champion, the groundbreaking LaunchPad Residency for early career writers from historically underrepresented communities.

Said Signature Theatre board chair Edward Norton in a statement, “My gratitude to Paige and admiration for her leadership of Signature will be everlasting. Nobody who signs up for the adventure and fun of running a dynamic theatre company expects it to turn into an existential fight for survival due to a global pandemic. But you really learn what people are made of when things get tough, and Paige’s fortitude and creativity and tireless spirit never wavered.  How lucky we have been to work with her and how lucky all her partners in future adventures in theatre will be.”

Before Signature, Evans served as the first artistic director of LCT3, launching a new space that brought new artists and audiences to Lincoln Center Theater and producing  more than 20 premieres. Before that she served as associate artistic director at Manhattan Theatre Club.

Founded in 1991 by James Houghton, Signature Theatre aims to be an artistic home for storytellers. By producing several plays from each resident writer, Signature continues its deep dive into their bodies of work. As of 2022, its budget was around $12.7 million.

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