News: Signature Theatre Announces the Retirement of Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer

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On June 30, 2020, thirty years after he co-founded Signature Theatre, Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer will retire from his position and depart the company.

Starting with a small group of friends and artists along with 126 original subscribers who gathered for a production of Mill Fire in October 1990, Signature has grown into an influential regional theater and important Virginia cultural treasure that influences the lives of tens of thousands of people every year.

Eric has worked tirelessly over the last three decades to create the beloved company that exists today. Signature Theatre employs more than 400 artists and staff annually; presents hundreds of performances of plays, musicals and cabarets every season; runs robust education programming that serves over 5,000 students per year; offers training programs and mentorships for emerging actors, directors, technicians and arts managers; and supports local and national writers with commissions, readings, workshops and full productions. His work in the larger community showed his dedication to the art and the people who make it. Eric helped create and continues to work to support theatreWashington’s Taking Care Fund, which provides much needed financial relief to theater professionals in need. Eric also helped spearhead the creation of the Women’s Voices Theater Festival.

In his letter to the staff, Eric wrote that he “looks forward to continuing to be this amazing company’s biggest cheerleader.” Eric adds “I hope I leave our community in a stronger place as it struggles to find its way forward through the current COVID-19 crisis. I am proud of everything we accomplished. I am going to miss our talented staff, the Board of Directors, the many volunteers, the artists and, of course, our audiences. Thirty years was an amazing ride and thanks everyone who has helped to build Signature into the institution that it is today.”

The Signature Board of Directors will commence a search for a new Artistic Director. The Board’s recruitment process is committed to ensuring that the pool of candidates reflects diversity in race, gender, ethnic background, and professional experience. This inclusive selection process will be an important part of Signature’s responsibility to increased diversity and anti-racism.