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: civic engagement, freedoms of expression, immigration, women’s rights. These are just a few of the topics that Signature in the Schools productions have delved into. The 2020/21 production will explore the New Deal and its contemporary relevance.

Signature in the Schools: The Film

The centerpiece of the Signature in the Schools program is the production of an original play written by a professional playwright. 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.

For the 2020/21 season, Signature in the Schools will be producing a film that will be available to stream at home and in school settings. Set during the current pandemic, the film will be a series of conversations filmed primarily in the students’ homes, through platforms like Zoom, Skype and FaceTime. The film will also include one in-person scene involving two socially-distant/masked-wearing characters filmed outdoors.

For the film, students will not only make up the cast, but also work as production crew. Recognizing the unusual circumstances that students throughout the region this year, any student in the Northern Virginia region will be eligible to participate in this year’s production (subsequent productions will return to being exclusively for Arlington Public School students). All students will be mentored by professionals and be held to the highest professional standards. Before the shoot begins, all cast and crew will participate in “Boot Camp,” a process where students engage critically with the historical subject matter of the play and develop strong theatrical and ensemble skills.

As always, 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 film will be released in mid-February.

Signature in the Schools: The Schools Experience

The Signature in the Schools film and accompanying resources will be available for classroom use nationwide for free. Signature in the Schools is designed for use in high school social studies, English and theatre classrooms, meeting goals of the Virginia Standards of Learning. Participating classrooms 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 access to the film.
  • Optional: Participating classes may opt in for a virtual in-class workshop taught by Signature Theatre Teaching Artists before the students watch the film. These workshops enable students to understand the subject matter behind the play and to voice their own thoughts, feelings and experiences related to the subject matter.
  • Optional: Participating classrooms can arrange for a brief virtual Q&A with members of the cast, crew and production company of the film.

To book the Signature in the Schools experience for your classroom or to learn more about the program, email To establish a residency at your school, visit In School Residences.