Theater News

Longtime Artistic Director James Houghton Will Depart Signature Theatre After 25 Years

Houghton steps down after starting an organization dedicated to playwrights and their work.

James Houghton, the Founding Artistic Director of Signature Theatre, will step down from his position at the end of the organization's 2015-2016 season.
James Houghton, the founding artistic director of Signature Theatre, will step down from his position at the end of the organization's 2015-16 season.
(© David Gordon)

After a recent diagnosis with stomach cancer, James Houghton, the longtime founding artistic director of off-Broadway's Signature Theatre, will step down from his position to focus on his health and his family at the end of its 25th anniversary season. Signature has formed a search committee to lead a national search for its next artistic leader, whom it will welcome by July 1, 2016.

"It has been a privilege beyond measure to work with the extraordinary writers, artists, staff, trustees, and visionary supporters, past and present, that have all defined Signature with an unparalleled passion and fortitude," Houghton said in a statement. "I look forward to working with them all over this next year as we move into this next exciting chapter. A bright future lies ahead."

Under Houghton’s leadership, Signature Theatre has become one of the country’s preeminent theater companies. Signature was the first company to dedicate a full season to a living writer’s body of work, and in the past 25 years has hosted a diverse roster of some of the theater’s most exciting and accomplished playwrights.

The company has since launched two additional residency programs, as well as the Signature Ticket Initiative, its groundbreaking ticket subsidy program. In 2012 Signature opened The Pershing Square Signature Center, the largest new theatre center in New York City in nearly 50 years, and was recognized in 2014 with the Regional Theatre Tony Award for its unique mission and outstanding body of work. Houghton has worked closely with the Board of Trustees to identify a clear path toward securing a thoughtful and smooth transition to the next phase in the company’s future.