UPDATE 1:50 P.M.: Adds Carole Rothman as head of Second Stage to list of women artistic directors, below.
PREVIOUS: Paige Evans, a key force in drawing attention to new plays and writers in New York, has been named artistic director of the Signature Theatre. She will take over the reins of one of the city’s pre-eminent nonprofit companies in July, when founding a.d. James Houghton steps down after more than 25 years. Houghton, who also heads the drama division of the Juilliard School, has been battling stomach cancer and announced last year that he planned to turn the theater over to a new chief in 2016.
The appointment adds a new name to the small list of important nonprofit theaters in the city run by women, which includes Lynne Meadow at the Manhattan Theatre Club, Susan Feldman at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, Carole Rothman at Second Stage and Sarah Benson at the Soho Rep.
“Paige Evans possesses a fundamental decency and integrity in her work that is exciting and the absolute right fit for Signature,” Houghton told Deadline. “I’m thrilled and just couldn’t feel better about this next chapter under her artistic leadership.”
The founding artistic director of Lincoln Center Theater’s new-works showcase LCT3, Evans moves from the 112-seat Claire Tow theater atop the Vivian Beaumont on the Lincoln Center campus to West 42nd Street and the thriving three-theater Signature complex designed by Frank Gehry. The announcement was made by actor and Signature board chairman Edward Norton and president Kate Roche Hope.
“Jim Houghton built Signature Theatre around the unique mission of giving playwrights a platform for their entire body of work while also revolutionizing the way that equal access to theatre for all people is made possible through the affordable Ticket Initiative,” Norton said. “Over 25 years, he grew Signature into one of the great theaters in America. We’re so excited to have Paige Evans lead this next chapter. She brings a depth of experience and artistic vision and a real passion for our social service mission that make her a perfect fit for this company.”
In her new position, Evans said, she hopes to continuing her relationships with the LCT3 community.
“Paige Evans embodies all that we could possibly hope for in an artistic leader,” Houghton said. “She has spent the last 20 years dedicated to advancing the field and our writing community and has done so with tremendous integrity and determination. We’re lucky to have her and I look forward to supporting Paige as she leads Signature into this next exciting phase.”
Evans will work alongside executive director Erika Mallin at the company, which made its name by presenting full seasons dedicated to a single playwright and has since expanded to include playwrights in residence from Edward Albee and Athol Fugard to Katori Hall and Will Eno.