New Resident Playwrights

New Resident Playwrights

Announcing 5 award-winning additions to our residency programs

Head shots of Signature Theatre residency playwrights Anna Deavere Smith, Lauren Yee, Sarah Ruhl, The Mad Ones, Sam Hunter against a dark gray background

Four award-winning playwrights and one prize-winning theatre collective are set to join our residency programs.

Tony Award nominee and Pulitzer Prize finalist Sarah Ruhl (In the Next Room, or the vibrator play) and Tony Award nominee and National Humanities Medal recipient Anna Deavere Smith (Notes from the Field) will join Signature’s Residency 1 program—a yearlong intensive exploration of a single writer’s body of work.

In addition, Drama Desk Award-winner Samuel D. Hunter (The Whale), Drama Desk nominees and Innovative Theatre Award winners The Mad Ones (Miles For Mary), and Horton Foote Prize-winner Lauren Yee (The Great Leap) will join Signature’s Residency 5 program, which guarantees playwrights three premieres over five years. Hunter, The Mad Ones, and Yee will join current Residency 5 playwrights Annie Baker, Martha Clarke, Katori Hall, Quiara Alegría Hudes, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Dave Malloy and Dominique Morisseau.

"I've always been inspired by Signature's commitment to the value of a writer's body of work, rather than just a single play. This kind of long-form commitment—and faith in plays of mine that I haven’t even written yet—is incredibly meaningful to me. Suddenly, I'm able to see further into the future of my writing career than I ever have before."

- Samuel D. Hunter


"I am beyond honored to be included in the Signature revolution—a revolution that honors a playwright’s body of work over time.  I humbly follow my heroes and teachers—including Paula Vogel, María Irene Fornés, Lynn Nottage, and Chuck Mee—with immense gratitude and a healthy dose of terror. I always love seeing plays at Signature because I know that theatrical language will come first, and everything else will follow.” 

- Sarah Ruhl


“I am truly honored that Signature has chosen to do my work. I think Jim Houghton’s office was in a parking lot when he asked me to come by to hear about his plans for residencies and for the building itself. He pulled a hard hat out of somewhere and took me to the construction site - all cement and wires. We walked around and I imagined what would be where as he described it all. I was energized and inspired by that visit with him. To now be a part of what’s been built and what Signature is still building under Paige’s leadership makes me feel, well - at home.”

- Anna Deavere Smith


“Collectively creating work requires extraordinary time, patience, and resources. Residency 5’s commitment to supporting a body of work will equip us to take meaningful artistic risks with unprecedented courage, galvanizing the next chapter of our collaboration. We are wildly honored to be welcomed into the company of Signature’s playwrights.”

- The Mad Ones


“Playwriting is by necessity a lonely endeavor. One that has us chasing the next reading or workshop or production every year all the time. Our reward is other people and the chance to make something with them. That's why this residency at Signature is such a gift. It's an opportunity to breathe. To consider my work not just in terms of the next year or the next play, but my career as a whole. I've had the good fortune to work at many wonderful theaters across the country and build connections in those communities. But New York City is my home and I am so thrilled to be home in so many senses of the word at Signature.”

- Lauren Yee


Sarah Ruhl

Sarah Ruhl's plays include How to Transcend a Happy Marriage; For Peter Pan on her 70th Birthday; The Oldest Boy; In the Next Room, or the vibrator play (Pulitzer Prize finalist, Tony Award nominee for best new play); The Clean House (Pulitzer Prize Finalist, The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize); Passion Play (Pen American award, The Fourth Freedom Forum Playwriting Award from The Kennedy Center); Orlando; Late: a cowboy song; Dear Elizabeth; Dead Man's Cell Phone (Helen Hayes Award); Eurydice; and Stage Kiss. She is a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and a Tony Award nominee. She has received the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright award, the Susan Smith Blackburn award, the Whiting award, the Lily Award, a PEN award for mid-career playwrights, and the MacArthur "genius" award. Her book of essays 100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write was published by Faber and Faber was a Times Notable Book of the Year. She teaches at the Yale School of Drama and lives in Brooklyn with her family.

Anna Deavere Smith

Anna Deavere Smith is an actress, playwright, teacher, and author. She is credited with having created a new form of theater. Smith's work combines the journalistic technique of interviewing her subjects with the art of interpreting their words through performance. President Obama awarded Smith the National Humanities Medal in 2013. Additional honors include the prestigious MacArthur Award, The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize for achievement in the arts, the George Polk Career Award in Journalism, two Tony nominations and several honorary degrees. She was runner up for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. Smith has created over fifteen one-person shows based on hundreds of interviews. Her most recent play, Notes from the Field, looks at the vulnerability of youth, inequality, the criminal justice system, and contemporary activism. The New York Times named it among The Best Theater of 2016 and Time magazine named it one of the Top 10 Plays of that year. In 2018, HBO premiered the film version of Notes from the Field. Smith’s play Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 was recently named one of the best plays of the last twenty-five years by The New York Times. Smith currently co-stars on the television series “For the People” and appears on the hit show “Black-ish”. Previously she appeared in “Nurse Jackie” and “The West Wing”. Films include The American President, Philadelphia and Rachel Getting Married. She is a University Professor at Tisch School of the Arts and the founding director of the NYU Institute in the Arts and Civic Dialogue.

Samuel D. Hunter

Samuel D. Hunter’s plays include The Whale (Drama Desk Award, Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play, GLAAD Media Award, Drama League and Outer Critics Circle nominations for Best Play), A Bright New Boise (Obie Award, Drama Desk nomination for Best Play), The Few, A Great Wilderness, Rest, Pocatello, The Healing, The Harvest, Lewiston/Clarkston, and most recently, Greater Clements.  He is the recipient of a 2014 MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship, a 2012 Whiting Writers Award, the 2013 Otis Guernsey New Voices Award, the 2011 Sky Cooper Prize, the 2008 PONY/Lark Fellowship, and an honorary doctorate from the University of Idaho.  His plays have been produced in New York at Playwrights Horizons, LCT3, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Clubbed Thumb and Page 73, and at such theaters as Seattle Rep, Theatre Royal Bath, South Coast Rep, Victory Gardens, Williamstown Theater Festival, The Old Globe, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Denver Center Theatre Company, the Dallas Theater Center, Long Wharf Theatre, and elsewhere.  His work has been developed at the O’Neill Playwrights Conference, the Ojai Playwrights Conference, Seven Devils, and PlayPenn. Two published anthologies of his work are available from TCG books.  He is a member of New Dramatists, an Ensemble Playwright at Victory Gardens, and was a 2013 Resident Playwright at Arena Stage. A native of northern Idaho, Sam lives in NYC. He holds degrees in playwriting from NYU, The Iowa Playwrights Workshop, and Juilliard.

The Mad Ones 

The Mad Ones are a New York City-based company that creates ensemble-driven work through the ongoing collaboration of co-Artistic Directors Marc Bovino (writer/performer), Joe Curnutte (writer/performer), Stephanie Wright Thompson (writer/performer), Lila Neugebauer (writer/director), and Associate Director Michael Dalto (performer/writer/music director). The Mad Ones’ full-length plays include Miles for Mary (The Bushwick Starr, Playwrights Horizons), The Essential Straight and Narrow (New Ohio Theatre), Samuel & Alasdair: A Personal History of the Robot War (The Brick, Ars Nova, New Ohio Theatre), and The Tremendous Tremendous (The Brick), as well as the upcoming Mrs. Murray’s Menagerie (Ars Nova at Greenwich House). The Mad Ones have received multiple Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel Nominations and multiple New York Innovative Theatre Awards. The Mad Ones have been company-in-residence at Ars Nova and were the inaugural recipients of the Archive Residency through New Ohio Theatre/IRT.

Lauren Yee

Lauren Yee is a playwright born and raised in San Francisco. She currently lives in New York City. Her play Cambodian Rock Band, with music by Dengue Fever, premiered at South Coast Rep and is at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival this season, followed by La Jolla Playhouse and Victory Gardens. Her play The Great Leap has been produced at the Denver Center, Seattle Repertory, Atlantic Theatre, and the Guthrie. Her play The Song Of Summer premiered at Trinity Rep in their 2019 season. She was a Dramatists Guild fellow, a MacDowell fellow, a MAP Fund grantee, a member of The Public Theater’s Emerging Writers Group, a Time Warner Fellow at the Women’s Project Playwrights Lab, the Shank playwright-in-residence at Second Stage Theatre, a Playwrights’ Center Core Writer, and the Page One resident playwright at Playwrights Realm. She is the winner of the Horton Foote Prize, the Kesselring Prize, and the Francesca Primus Prize. She has been a finalist for the Edward M. Kennedy Prize, the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the ATCA/Steinberg Award, the Jerome Fellowship, the PONY Fellowship, the Princess Grace Award, the Sundance Theatre Lab, the Wasserstein Prize. Her work is published by Samuel French. Her plays were the #1 and #2 plays on the 2017 Kilroys List.

Pictured above: top photo © David Sundberg / Esto. Anna Deavere Smith, Lauren Yee, Sarah Ruhl, The Mad Ones, Samuel D. Hunter, photos by Gregory Costanzo.

Now At The Center