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Signature sets 2012 slate

New plays by Albee, Lonergan on tap

By GORDON COX
New plays by Edward Albee, Kenneth Lonergan, Katori Hall and Will Eno plus a trio of works by Athol Fugard are set as the inaugural lineup of the new three-venue home of Off Broadway’s Signature Theater.
The Gotham nonprofit also plans to continue its ticket-subsidy program, aiming to raise $20 million so the theater can sell tickets for $25 each rather than the full price of $75.
Time Warner, the major funder of the cut-price ticket initiative that kicked off in 2005, is no longer the lead sponsor, although the conglom has joined philanthropist Margot Adams, the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the city in pledging coin to the effort.
Signature topper James Houghton vowed to continue the program for 10 more years.
The world preem by Albee, “Laying an Egg,” centers on a middle-aged woman struggling to get pregnant. Production, helmed by David Esbjornson (“The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?”) and starting previews Feb. 14, will be seen as part of Signature’s legacy program, which stages works by scribes who have been the focus of one of the troupe’s seasonlong tributes. Org devoted its 1993-94 season to the playwright.
Hall’s “Hurt Village,” which picked up the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize earlier this year, follows the effects of a grant on the residents of a Memphis housing project. World preem by the scribe, whose play “The Mountaintop” recently began Broadway previews, is helmed by Patricia McGregor in a production that begins perfs Feb. 7.
The U.S. bow of Eno’s “Title and Deed,” a Beckettian story of a traveler in an unknown country, begins previews May 8 in a staging helmed by Judy Hegarty Lovett. (Show had its world preem in Ireland last month.) Lonergan’s latest, with no title or plot details announced, bows May 15.
All three scribes are part of Signature’s new Residency Five program, which offers fellowships to five writers, guaranteeing each three full productions over five years. Annie Baker and Regina Taylor also are onboard for the initial roster.
The company’s seasonlong tribute this year goes to Fugard, who will direct two of his own shows, his 1961 outing “Blood Knot” (beginning perfs Jan. 31) as well as his latest, “The Train Driver” (starting Aug. 14). Ruben Santiago-Hudson will helm the 1989 play “My Children! My Africa!” in a slot that begins previews May 1.
Signature’s new midtown facility, still under construction, will be completed in January.

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