Signature in the Schools

What is Signature in the Schools?

Signature in the Schools is a theatrical training program unlike any other. The chance to be in a world premiere production, written, directed and designed by professional theater artists, featuring a professional actor. And beyond all of that, it’s the chance to participate in a theatrical conversation about issues that matter: race relations in America, feminism, immigration, freedoms of expression. These are just a few of the topics that Signature in the Schools productions have delved into.

Signature in the Schools: The Play

The centerpiece of the Signature in the Schools program is the production of an original play written by Joe Calarco. The play is specially tailored to the personalities and abilities of the student performers and focuses on themes from Arlington Public Schools social studies’ curriculum.

Students not only make up the cast of the production, but also work as crew, stage managers and occasionally even as co-designers. All students, whether onstage or off, are mentored by professionals and are held to the highest professional standards. Before rehearsals with the completed script begin, all cast and crew go through “Boot Camp,” a process where students engage critically with the historical subject matter of the play and develop strong theatrical and ensemble skills.

A professional actor always joins the student casts onstage as a colleague and mentor. Past actors that have participated in the program include Natascia Diaz, Tracy Lynn Olivera and Nancy Robinette.

The play performs for two public audiences and five field trip matinees for students.

Signature in the Schools: The Schools Experience

Signature in the Schools performs five student matinees each year. School classes that attend performances receive the following:

  • Access to a special website devoted to the subject matter of the show. This website provides lesson plans for teachers and articles and additional resources for students, all designed to comply with Virginia Standards of Learning for English, Social Studies and Theater. (Click here for the site for the 2020 production, UnResigned).
  • Free tickets to the performance for all students, teachers and chaperones.
  • Optional: Participating classes may opt in for a preshow in-class workshop taught by Signature Theatre Teaching Artists. These classes aim at enabling students to voice their own thoughts, feelings and experiences related to the subject matter of the play.
  • Free transportation to and from Signature Theatre (Arlington Public Schools only).

To learn more about Signature in the Schools, email To establish a residency at your school, visit In School Residences.