Honoring his work and dedication to the Off-Broadway community, numerous Off-Broadway theatres will dim their lights on Thursday at 7:45PM, in memory of theatre legend James (Jim) Houghton, who died on August 2nd at the age of 57.
Among the participating theatres are the Theater Center, Barrow Street Theatre, Cherry Lane Theatre, Lucille Lortel Theatre, Minetta Lane, Orpheum, Playwright Horizons, Daryl Roth Theatre, DR2, Player’s Theatre, The Public Theater, Second Stage, Davenport Theatre, Westside Theatre and Theatre Row.
“Jim was an exemplary leader for the entire Off-Broadway community,” said Adam Hess, President of the Off-Broadway League. “His passion, vision, and unwavering support of artists truly inspired and transformed the landscape of New York theatre.”
Under James Houghton’s leadership as Founding Artistic Director, Signature Theatre has become one of the country’s preeminent theatre 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 theatre’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.
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Since 2006, Mr. Houghton also served as the Richard Rodgers Director of the Drama Division at The Juilliard School. To enhance the program, Mr. Houghton and the Drama Division initiated significant new programming and opportunities for students. Among these opportunities are a new Master of Fine Arts Program, which offers free tuition and a living stipend during the fourth and final year of training; the introduction of a Playwrights Festival featuring performances of plays written by students of the renowned Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program; and a bridge to the profession through the creation of the Professional Studio hosted by Signature Theatre, allowing Juilliard’s actors and writers to collaborate closely and build lasting artistic relationships.
Mr. Houghton was honored by The Acting Company with the 2012 John Houseman Award for his profound commitment to developing American actors and building a diverse audience for the theatre, as well as the William Inge Festival’s 1998 Margo Jones Medal for an outstanding contribution to the American theatre. In 2015, he was awarded a Special Award for Sustained Achievement at the 60th Annual Obie Awards.
In 2016, he received the Lucille Lortel Award for Lifetime Achievement and a Special Achievement Award from the Outer Critics Circle. In 2013, he was inducted into the College of the Fellows of the American Theatre and presented with an honorary Doctorate of Performing Arts by his alma mater, Santa Clara University. Mr. Houghton has also served as the Artistic Director of the O’Neill Playwrights Conference (1999-2003), Artistic Director of the New Harmony Project (1996-1999), and the Artistic Advisor to the Guthrie Theater (1998-2012).
Houghton is survived by his wife Joyce O’Connor, children Henry and Lily Houghton, parents Joan and Sherrill Houghton, and siblings Scott Houghton, Susan Houghton Devine, Lynne Houghton and Trish Houghton Line.