It turns out that Houghton is traveling but he was gracious enough to take the time to send me a reassuring response that I now get to share with you. Here’s what he said:
It was always our plan for David [Henry Hwang], as our Residency One playwright, to have three productions, as all our Residency One playwrights do. We had originally announced KUNG FU for Fall/Winter, but since we’re developing this piece with Chinese collaborators, and the scale of the project is so enormous, timing on all fronts made it make the most sense to do it in early 2014. This is really a change of just a couple of months to make sure we have time to develop the piece with the attention it deserves, with the parties we wanted to work with.
We’ve also found since opening the Center that it really makes sense to have our Res One writers with us for 14-18 months, instead of the traditional 12 months. It deepens the relationship and the commitment we make to each other, and gives some breathing room for each production, and has resulted in some exciting overlaps of Res One writers (like it did for David and Athol Fugard this past season). I imagine this overlap will continue to be the case going forward.
We’re looking at next season’s All Premiere line-up as a chance for our Residency Five program to catch up – since the program is about building new bodies of work, we always knew it would take three full years to fully launch, and next season will complete that launch, with four full Res Five productions (Taylor, Clarke, Eno, Jenkins). That, in combination with the continued Res One presence of KUNG FU and the new Albee and the Wilson piece, meant for this one year only we wouldn’t be introducing a new Residency One playwright. We don’t view this as a change in mission at all, and we’ll absolutely be announcing a new Residency One playwright for the next season.