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: the New Deal and its contemporary relevance; civic engagement and the power of the vote; freedoms of expression; the global refugee crisis. These are just a few of the topics that Signature in the Schools has delved into. The 2021/22 production will use F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby as the basis for a show that explores mental health, social media and the ways we present ourselves to the world.

Want to audition? Would you rather work backstage? Good news! Any high school student currently enrolled in an Arlington County public high school is eligible to apply for both acting and technical positions. No experience necessary – we’ll teach you on the job! To learn more about student participation in the program, click here.

Signature in the Schools: The Play

The centerpiece of the Signature in the Schools program is the production of an original play written by professional playwright, Dani Stoller (Easy Women Smoking Loose Cigarettes). The play is specially tailored to the personalities and abilities of the student performers and focuses on themes from Virginia curriculum for Social Studies, English and Theater Arts.

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 Felicia Curry, Tracy Lynn Olivera and Maria Rizzo.

Public performances for Signature in the Schools will take place on January 24 at 7PM and January 28 at 8PM in the MAX Theatre at Signature. Tickets will go on sale to the public at a later date.

Signature in the Schools: The Classroom Experience

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:

  • Free tickets to one of five student matinees. All student matinees conclude with a brief Q&A session with members of the cast, crew and creative team. Student matinees are on January 21, 24, 26, 27 and 28. Book early! They fill quickly.
  • Access to two special websites devoted to the subject matter of the show. The teacher website provides lesson plans, articles and additional resources for deeper diving, all designed to comply with Virginia Standards of Learning for English, Social Studies and Theater. The student website provides a multimedia experience, with images, videos, music playlists and articles to help the students find personal connection and interest in the subject matter.
  • Free transportation to and from Signature Theatre (Arlington Public Schools only.)
  • Optional: Participating classes may opt for an in-person or virtual in-class workshop taught by Signature Theatre Teaching Artists before their field trip to Signature. 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.

To book your classroom’s Signature in the Schools experience, or to learn more about the program, email sigschools@sigtheatre.org.

To establish a residency or to book a different workshop at your school with Signature Theatre, visit School Workshops and Residencies.