Originally slated for the stalled performing arts venue at the World Trade Center site, the three-stage theater complex—previewed in an Off The Record post on December 1st (Gehry Hosts a Signature Preview) after a hard-hat tour—is the new, permanent home of the 20-year-old Signature Theatre Company. It's also a welcome addition to the quickly gentrifying community with a comfortable 6,400-square-foot lobby, intended to double as a public living room, complete with café, bookstore and interactive media wall.
Previews for the Center's first production, Athol Fugard's Blood Knot, begin this evening, with Katori Hall's Hurt Village, and Edward Albee's The Lady from Dubuque, following in February.
A curving, plywood-lined stair directs theatergoers and visitors up from the street-level entrance to the second-floor lobby of the Pershing Square Signature Center. Filled with daylight, the lobby is the hub of the Center, around which the three theaters are located.
Gehry's use of exposed concrete, balanced by planes of finished plywood celebrate the bones of the existing raw space.
Three interactive touchscreens engage the public in the living room-like open lobby.
Two informational touchscreens flank a Facebook-like screen that allows people to interact with the Center by leaving comments and impressions of performances. It even has a built-in camera so they can include their photo.
The entrance to the Romulus Linney Courtyard Theater--like each of the theaters--features a plasma screen with program information.
Edward Norton and Frank Gehry
The 199-seat Alice Griffen Jewel Box Theatre is modeled to mimic the intimacy of a small European opera house.
"The Griffin" features a flexible proscenium that can be used with or without a traditional platform stage. On the set for Athol Fugard's Blood Knot the designer recreates the aura of a one-room shack in South Africa by building up from the raw floor.
The 199-seat Romulus LInney Courtyard Theatre offers ultimate flexibility with moveable seating and a second for seating or staging. Here a ghetto has been recreated for Katori Hall's Hurt Village.
The 299-seat End Stage Theatre
A super-sized graphic of an early Signature Theatre production—Tony Kushner's Angels in America—adorns the wall in the Center's administrative offices.