Friday, January 23, 2015

In With the Interns: Kristen LaCherra

Name: Kristen LaCherra

Long-Term Goals: I would like to work in the marketing and community outreach fields of theatre arts management, in either the DC-Metro area or New York City.

Favorite Plays: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee, August: Osage County by Tracy Letts

Favorite Movie: The Princess Bride

Internship Start Date: January 21, 2015

Internship Duties: Assisting with the Signature in the Schools program, general administrative tasks for the Education Department

Favorite Things About Signature: I love Signature’s willingness to take on new and exciting work, and how they can make any sized show an intimate experience for the audience.

Favorite Things About D.C.: I love the theatre scene down here, as well as the variety of great non-profit arts organizations.

General Cool Things About You: I have two different colored eyes and a hardcore love of Chipotle.

If you could be a superhero or supervillain, what would your superpower / ability be and what would your greatest weakness be? Could my superpower be the ability to make Chipotle burritos both free and healthy? A bit self-serving, but that would be a great service to society. My greatest weakness would be impatience (those lines would be crazy).

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Abby - New to Some, Familiar to Others

Abby and Kerry improvise a scene in rehearsal.
Let's jump back to the acting side of things of Veni, Vidi, Vici with Abby who joins the cast and crew of Signature in the Schools for the first time. 

"In the past year, Signature in the Schools has become such an important part of my life. I met David (Director), Matt (Dramaturg) and Karl (actor) during Anne and Emmett in the fall and knew several of the cast from the Fine Arts Apprentice Program, but I was still a newcomer to this particular part of the program. It was a little intimidating. But, from day one, I realized I had found a place where I could feel safe. It is a program incredibly centered on trust, so even on the first day I felt comfortable and respected. Everyone was there to learn and have fun, and that was a really exciting environment to be in.

Karl and Abby in Anne and Emmett
One of the unique parts of the Signature in the Schools program is “Boot Camp”. Boot Camp is basically three weeks of extremely intense dramaturgy, acting technique, and bonding to train as an ensemble for the show we will put on in March. The tech and actors come for dramaturgy days and only actors go for the acting technique days.

This year the theme is Imperialism, which is essentially the history of the world. I have never really liked learning about history. And that’s what the dramaturgy days were—learning about history. But the subject matter (Imperialism) is taught in a way that personalizes the information. It helped me realize why knowing how people acted five thousand years ago may be relevant now. It’s crazy that after so many years of learning history in school, I finally have discovered how to become passionate about it.

Abby and Karl are back together in
Signature in the Schools

Acting days are less focused on Imperialism and more focused on basics of acting and trust as a group. Everyone takes the exercises we do very seriously (not to say they’re all serious, they range from intense to hysterical) which allows for some pretty incredible things to happen. It’s pretty amazing what a group of teenagers can do together if they listen to one another and focus. I remember saying that I wish every teenager could have the chance to do some of the exercises we do and have a place where they feel comfortable expressing their ideas and themselves because I have not just bettered my acting skills, but I have learned about myself and the world. You simply can’t find that kind of experience just anywhere.

Abby was a student of Signature's 2014 Stage One program
this past summer.
Last Monday, the day we got our script, my cast mate Brandi and I were texting each other the entire day at school counting down the minutes until we would get to Signature. That sums up my feeling every day now. I always want to be there. And since everyone, actors and tech, learn and grow together, as an ensemble, Boot Camp has made me positive we will all work our butts off to produce an awesome show!"

Be sure to check back in the coming weeks to hear more from the amazing 20th Anniversary cast and crew of Signature in the Schools. For more information on the program be sure to check out our web page. Tickets for this year's production will be available soon through the Signature Theatre Box Office at 703 820 9771.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Jake - Techin' Up a Storm

Jake (left) looks on fellow Signature in the Schools cast and crew
as they film a series of videos during boot camp.
Moving over to the technical side of things with the Veni, Vidi, Vici team, we have our Assistant Sound Designer and Operator Jake. A very knowledgeable and diversely talented young man, Jake brings with him a plethora of experience and enthusiasm to the MAX Theatre stage.

"I am a senior at Wakefield High School and have been doing theater for three years now. Acting in Wakefield’s numerous productions of West Side Story as Diesel, Rebel Without a Cause as Mr. Brown, and then my favorite roles as Lancelot and the Knight of Ni in Wakefield’s production of Spamalot. I used to think in my grungy awkward middle school years that being an actor was easy work. And it is if you are aiming for an okay show. But if you want a passionate compelling show you need to work for it. You need to find your connections with your character and their idiosyncrasies. You memorize your lines like your life depends on it. If you’re doing a musical then you have to put in sweat and frustration to get the choreography and songs right. It's not as easy as people perceive it and it has truly changed the way I look at myself and others around me.  

Abby and Jake film a scene in Shirlington.
I will always love acting but it isn’t my preferred method of expression in theater. What I really love about theater is being a part of the technical crew. It's a passion I can see myself doing in the future and am applying to colleges for it at this very moment. I started to help make the set on West Side Story but didn’t have a huge hand in the actual crafting of sets until I worked with Encore Stage and Studio. I have had a hand with every set of Wakefield's productions ever since my first show. Even if I am acting in a show I really want to help with the set because without it the atmosphere of any performance will be dull.

Building the Rolls Royce for Wakefield's production of The Great Gatsby is what solidified this passion for me. My father, who is a master carpenter, and I built the body of the car in my backyard. It took around 25 hours to complete the whole construction process of the car. Once it was done being built, we had to paint it. So we took it to our set shop in Wakefield and I taught the other crew members how to grind, prime and paint.

I am confident that being a part of a crew is what I want to pursue and am really thankful that I am in Signature in the Schools because it truly is a wonderful opportunity. I am learning about sound (which is something I have rarely dabbled with) so I am pretty pumped about the 20th anniversary of Signature in the Schools because I know it's going to be a good show."
Be sure to check back in the coming weeks to hear more from the amazing 20th Anniversary cast and crew of Signature in the Schools. For more information on the program be sure to check out our web page. Tickets for this year's production will be available soon through the Signature Theatre Box Office at 703 820 9771.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Julia - A New Actor Appears

Julia instructs and molds fellow actors from afar in a boot camp exercise.
Up next from the Veni, Vidi, Vici team we hear from one of our newest members, Julia. A very talented and brilliant young actor, Julia talks to us about her experience with Signature in the Schools so far and what excites her about the future of this world premiere project. 
"When I found out that I was accepted to be an actress in the Signature in the Schools program I was thrilled. I could not wait to start working with everybody! But I was also a little intimidated. I had heard such wonderful things about the program, like how professional the environment was and how much the actors grew as performers, and I was nervous about how I would fit into everything.  
Julia looks on as fellow actor Max discusses the exercise.
Flash forward to boot camp (a three week intensive before the first read through of the script where cast and crew work on connecting to the theme of the show and becoming an ensemble) and all of my doubts are erased. Everyone is not only incredibly talented but also warm and welcoming. The professional atmosphere is not intimidating at all but energizing and empowering. The focused, passionate energy radiating inside of the rehearsal room is contagious. I find myself impatiently counting down the hours during the school day until I can go back to Signature."
Be sure to check back in the coming weeks to hear more from the amazing 20th Anniversary cast and crew of Signature in the Schools. For more information on the program be sure to check out our web page. Tickets for this year's production will be available soon through the Signature Theatre Box Office at 703 820 9771.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Mason - Stepping Up to Stage Management

Mason is ready to tackle rehearsals with the rest of the
technical team for Signature in the Schools.
Over the next couple of months as we get closer to the premiere of this years Signature in the Schools production Veni, Vidi, Vici, we are going to hear from the talented cast and crew that makes up this years production team. First up on the docket we have our fearless Stage Manager, Mason.

"I’ve been at Signature for three years now. I’ve done one year as a backstage technician, one year as Assistant Stage Manager and this is my first year as Stage Manager. Over the years, all I’ve been hearing about is how I’m going to be the next Stage Manager (SM) and now that I am it’s weird. I can still remember the day I auditioned to be an actor and I can remember getting the email saying I was accepted as tech. It really does feel like it’s been a long road all leading up to this moment. I feel some anxiety about the new position especially after following Emily, last years Stage Manager, she really was amazing.  But I’m going to put out 110% and do my part to make the 20th anniversary show the best one we’ve had yet. Signature has been the main focus of my highschool career and completely changed my entire view of what I might want to do after I graduate. I don’t want to know where I might have been without it."

Be sure to check back in the coming weeks to hear more from the amazing 20th Anniversary cast and crew of Signature in the Schools. For more information on the program be sure to check out our web page. Tickets for this year's production will be available soon through the Signature Theatre Box Office at 703 820 9771.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Now Serving: The Diner Team

The world premiere of Diner at Signature Theatre is fast upon us and the artistic, production and administrative teams could not be more ecstatic to share this amazing show with everyone. Signature is known for its bold and brave new musicals and Diner aims to be one of the boldest and bravest yet. Taking on a landmark film such as Diner is no easy feat. As highlighted in one of our previous blog entries, the film helped pave the way for such stars as Steve Guttenberg, Mickey Rourke, Kevin Bacon and pushed for the usage of “nothing” in film and television. At the helm of this landmark production is a powerhouse team consisting of director Kathleen Marshall, writer Barry Levinson, and musician Sheryl Crow. 

Kathleen Marshall
Kathleen Marshall is a Tony and Drama Desk award winning director and choreographer. Originally from the Pittsburgh theatrical scene, Kathleen began her Broadway career as the assistant to her choreographer brother Rob Marshall and has since collaborated with him on shows such as She Loves Me, Damn Yankees and Seussical. Kathleen has gone on to direct and choreograph Broadway revivals of the Pajama Game with Harry Connick, Jr. in 2006 and Anything Goes with Sutton Foster in 2011. 
Barry Levinson
On the writing front of Diner, is none other than the film’s original director and screenwriter, Barry Levinson. Barry, a Baltimore native, brings incredible warmth and an immense supply of talent to the table. Having directed and written award winning films that have included: The Natural, Good Morning, Vietnam, Rain ManBugsy,Toys ,and What Just Happened, Levinson is more than seasoned enough to handle diving back under the hood of Diner.

Sheryl Crow
Last but not least, bringing up the musical and lyrical front of Diner in none other than singer songwriter Sheryl Crow. This Grammy Award winning musician is taking on a new challenge with the music and lyrics of Diner, as this is the first time she has written for a musical. However, if what we have seen and heard in rehearsals and tech is any indication, Sheryl clearly knows what she is doing. 

The creative reigns of Diner are clearly in very capable hands. With a power plant of creative energy in charge of this project, the production is sure to electrify audiences. For more information and tickets please contact the Signature Theatre Box Office at 703-820-9771 or visit the Signature website.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Order Up a Plate of "Nothing" Thanks to Diner

As we slowly approach December, the days and nights get colder and we find ourselves one step closer to the world premiere of Diner here at Signature Theatre. This production, under the helm of three-time Tony Award®-winning director and choreographer Kathleen Marshall features music by Grammy Award Winning Sheryl Crow and book by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Barry Levinson.

For those that aren’t familiar with the Oscar and Golden Globe-nominated film, Diner focuses on a reunion of childhood friends around Christmas time in 1959 Baltimore, Maryland. From the comfort of an all-night diner, the men, in their early-twenties, confront the realities of adulthood and the always perplexing opposite sex.

The film itself is a landmark movie, one that launched numerous careers, including those of actors Kevin Bacon, Mickey Rourke, Ellen Barkin, and screenwriter/director Barry Levinson. Diner’s groundbreaking evocation of male friendship changed the way men interact, not just in movies, but on television, commercials and the radio as well.  In 2009, TV critic Nancy Franklin observed that “Levinson should get royalties any time two or more men sit together in a coffee shop.”

What Franklin really means is that, more than any other film, Diner invented the concept of “nothing”. In Diner, Levinson took the stuff that usually fills time between the car chases and kisses and made it central to the story (This idea was popularized with the premiere of Seinfeld.)

Diner influenced a whole generation of writers, revolutionizing the way characters talk and how realistic they could be. The film was particularly influential with actors, as it provided this notion that you could play someone who was extremely real and at the same time humorous and emotional. Diner has a complexity that not a lot of movies at the time had. Older films tended to be tremendously dramatic or broadly comic. Diner on the other hand landed in a new territory where somebody could be entertaining and humorous and also make you cry. Observing more contemporary television and film, Diner is clearly responsible for such "nothing" heavy hits as The Office, Pulp Fiction and The 40-Year-Old Virgin.

Signature Theatre’s world premiere production of Diner promises to remain faithful to the concept of “nothing” and to retain the truthfully entertaining personalities that are on display. Diner opens December 9th and runs until January 25th. Tickets and more information can be found on the Signature website and at our box office. (703 820 9771)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Celebrating 20 Years of Signature in the Schools

As Signature in the Schools quickly approaches its 20th anniversary, its staff and students look back fondly on the many productions and memories they have been a part of. To help celebrate this momentous occasion (and ten-year writing partnership with longtime Signature favorite and newly appointed Resident Director Joe Calarco), the Signature Education Department is proud to present the Signature in the Schools Festival! Part showcase, part pop-up fringe, all fun, this two week long festival features four separate productions of former Signature in the Schools shows by local high schools. The shows will all be performed in the beautiful MAX Theatre at Signature in January 2015.
Original Productions Photos of Eve of Destruction, Revolution, Image is Everything, and Aftershock. All photos by Dennis Deloria. 

In order to prep you for a flurry of talent and amazing productions, we have prepared a brief primer on each show. 


Eve of Destruction
(Originally titled Eve of Destruction)
Presented and performed by Duke Ellington School of the Arts
Directed by Tracie Jade Jenkins 
Date: January 17th at 11AM
Summary: While his classmates study Ancient Sumer, Daniel struggles with his own relationship to Iraq, where his father was blinded in the First Gulf War. While Rasha, a young girl in modern Basra, writes hopeful letters to her imaginary American friend, two Iraqi boys wrestle with how to take action in a time of great change. These two stories, intertwined with the ancient Sumerian story of Lugalbanda, ultimately carry heartbreaking and shocking connections.

Presented and performed by Bishop Ireton High School
Directed by Joanna Henry
Date: January 18th at 11AM
Summary: It’s 2011. The events that would come to be known as the Arab Spring are underway. The Occupy Movement is in its infancy. With the world changing at a rapid pace, a group of young students find themselves grappling to identify with and understand the surrounding revolutionary fervor. One student, Patrick, struggles in quiet desperation with changes that could prove to be more than he can handle. Visited by Basma Bouazizi, sister of revolutionary Mohammed Bouazizi, Patrick’s story becomes a sobering exploration of the origins of revolutions and the consequences of upheaval.

Image is Everything

Image is Everything
Presented and performed by Oakton High School
Directed by Vanessa Gelinas
Date: January 24th at 11AM
Summary: Inspired by Leni Riefenstahl’s legendary propaganda film, Triumph of the Will, which chronicled the Nazi Party rallies and helped to glorify German leader Adolf Hitler, Image is Everything focuses on themes of propaganda, conformity and personal responsibility. Taking place in the present day, a group of students study the tragic events of the Holocaust and are forced to face the fact that propaganda didn’t just die with Nazi Germany but is alive and well in America, even in their very own school.

Presented and Performed by High School Students From Across the DC Area
Directed by Joe Calarco
Date: January 25th at 11AM
Summary: While trying to write a paper about the aftermath of tragedy, high school student Ruthie turns to her brother Timothy, a Red Cross worker, for stories of survival. He tells her the story of Ayana, a young woman facing tough choices while stranded on a roof in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He also brings to life Negie, a Congolese girl who witnessed the unspeakable deaths of her family before escaping into the jungle. Closer to home, Timothy tells Ruthie the story of their ancestors, Ruth and Sarah, reunited in Belgium after the Holocaust and struggling to maintain their identities. Ruthie’s own experience of tragedy breaks through in surprising ways as she absorbs the stories of these incredible survivors.

The Signature in the Schools 20th Anniversary Festival is sure to not be missed this January. Tickets are available here and through our box office at 703 820 9771. We can't wait to share these amazing pieces, students and artists with the rest of the world.


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