Signature in the Schools Premieres ‘The Spoken Word’ February 22

Regional Tony Award recipient Signature Theatre continues its singular Signature in the Schools program with another original production written and directed by Joe Calarco. Calarco is the Resident Director/Director of New Work at Signature Theatre.

Joe Calarco. Photo by Christopher Mueller/Signature Theatre.
Joe Calarco. Photo by Christopher Mueller/Signature Theatre.

For Calarco, it has been a high honor to be closely associated with the Signature in the Schools program for more than a decade. Beyond “providing students the opportunity to perform, it is so powerful to see what the students can do,” Calarco said. “This year’s original production, The Spoken Word, is the largest yet.”

For those less familiar with Signature in the Schools, it is a long-running theatrical training program unlike any other in the area. The program provides opportunities for high school students to go beyond performance on the Signature Theatre stage. The Signature in the Schools program provides Arlington County public school students the opportunity to be in a world premiere production, featuring a professional actor. For 2019, Tracy Lynn Olivera will be the featured professional actor working with and mentoring the students.

Signature in the Schools also provides students the chance to participate in a theatrical conversation about issues that matter in the real world and real life: contemporary feminism, race relations in America, global imperialism, veteran issues, refugee/immigration issues and well beyond.

The Spoken Word is described by Signature marketing material this way:

“Germany in 1943. America in 2033. This charged, new Signature in the Schools play follows young adults separated by time and place, united by their resistance to the government oppression they’re surrounded by. In 2033, a group of protestors in hiding begin receiving cryptic text messages. Is it actually possible that they’re somehow from 1940s anti-Nazi activist, Sophie Scholl, and other members of the famed White Rose resistance group? And if they are receiving those messages, why are they receiving them?”

As a production, The Spoken Word is tailored to the personalities and abilities of the student performers and focuses on themes from Arlington Public Schools’ social studies curriculum. The Spoken Word has a cast and crew of about 15 students. Many of the students also play instruments during the production.

The Spoken Word is both for students and the general public. Student-only matinees will be performed for Arlington and Fairfax County Public School students on February 22, February 25, February 28, March 1, and March 4. There will be evening performances for the public on February 25 and March 2. The evening performances provide opportunities for all to see what the students can do in a professional-quality production.

Signature in the Schools: The Spoken Word plays February 22 through March 4, 2019, at Signature Theatre – 4200 Campbell Avenue, Arlington, VA 22206. Tickets for the two public performances on February 25 and March 2 are currently sold out; however, for any openings for reservations, call (703) 820-9771, or go online. A limited number of tickets will also be released to those waiting in standby on the evening of the performance.

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David Siegel
David Siegel is a freelance theater reviewer and features writer whose work appears on DC Metro Theater Arts, ShowBiz Radio, in the Connection Newspapers and the Fairfax Times. He is a judge in the Helen Hayes Awards program. He is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and volunteers with the Arts Council of Fairfax County. David has been associated with theater in the Washington, DC area for nearly 30 years. He served as Board President, American Showcase Theater Company (now Metro Stage) and later with the American Century Theater as both a member of the Executive Board and as Marketing Director. You can follow David's musings on Twitter @pettynibbler.