Theater News

Jenna Segal Launches Female Playwright Initiative at Signature Theatre

The program takes its name from acclaimed playwright Heidi Thomas.

Playwright Heidi Thomas and producer Jenna Segal at the opening night of their Broadway collaboration, Gigi, in 2015.
Playwright Heidi Thomas and producer Jenna Segal at the opening night of their Broadway collaboration, Gigi, in 2015.
(© David Gordon)

Broadway producer Jenna Segal (Les Liaisons Dangereuses) has partnered with Arlington, Virginia's Signature Theatre to highlight the work of exciting female playwrights through through SigWorks: The Heidi Thomas Writer’s Initiative. Through a generous grant from the Jenna and Paul Segal Foundation, Segal will sponsor a world premiere by a female playwright with a female director for the next five years. Slated to begin in the 2017-18 season, the grant also gives Signature the resources to help playwrights secure second and third productions by bringing artistic directors from across the country to Signature during the run of their plays to meet with the playwright and plan for future productions of the work.

"I’m thrilled Jenna shares our commitment to supporting the finest female artists working in theater today," said Signature Theatre artistic director Eric Schaeffer. "Washington brought a national focus to the work of women playwrights with the Women’s Voices Theatre Festival and it’s our job to not only continue it but expand it. This grant allows Signature to do both – and also helps us tackle the particular challenge for playwrights to get their second and third productions. Jenna’s support will allow us to help the writers find the next leg of their journey through an expanded effort to bring artistic directors from around the country to see the work – and we are so grateful for this leadership and support."

The program is named after acclaimed British playwright and screenwriter Heidi Thomas, who is the creator and executive producer behind the BBC’s Call the Midwife series and who adapted the recent Broadway revival of Gigi, directed by Eric Schaeffer and produced by Jenna Segal.

"Female writers have so much to say, and all too often their voices are not heard," said Thomas in a statement. "However, at Signature, Eric and Jenna have created a new and exciting platform for work entirely by women, where talent will not just be showcased, but also nurtured. I am proud beyond measure to be linked to this initiative, and support it with my whole heart."

Signature Theatre, the recipient of the 2009 Regional Theatre Tony Award, is currently running the world premiere musical Freaky Friday.