Monday, March 10, 2014

Hero Worship - Words From the Writer

As you may know, Signature in the Schools Hero Worship is slated to have its first public performance this evening at 8:00 pm. We on staff in the Education Department at Signature Theatre thought it would be interesting to hear from the writer of the show himself, Joe Calarco, and his ideas, thoughts, and reasons for this show and this program as a whole.

I’ve been writing for the Signature in the Schools program for the past nine years. Most of the pieces I have written have dealt with, at least in part, some conflict going on in the world either now or in the past. Each year, I try and find some parallel in our contemporary world so that the actors can more passionately dive into their characters and so that the student audiences who come and see the play can more easily relate to what they’re seeing on stage.

Hero Worship (2014). Photo by Matt Strote
This year’s play, like half of the nine plays I have written for the program, focuses on America at War. I realized tonight that by the time I wrote my first play for this program, America was engaged in two wars. By my second year with the program I was ready to write about America’s conflict in Iraq. This year’s play is about D-Day but also focuses on modern teenagers wrestling with the current war we are engaged in. In writing this play I realized that there are students in the program this year who have little to recollection of a time when America has not been at war.

Revolution (2013). Photo by Denni Deloria 
Only a half of one percent of the U.S. population serves in the military, so like much of the country who doesn’t serve or know someone currently serving, for me war and armed conflict can feel distant, like something that is happening “over there. As “up” on current events as I like to think I am, writing these pieces has taught me that I am not nearly as present or aware as I should be.

I think these students learn something as well. What they learn goes far beyond what it means to be a theatre artist. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. They’re doing their own research on the wars covered in the play and on PTSD. Their worldview is expanding as a result of this influx of information. And if there is an argument for why this program should be more funded, and more well known, that is it. I think what Signature Theater and David Zobell, led by Marcia Gardner before him, are doing is unique and vital and is changing young people’s lives for the better.

Un-American (2012). Photo by Dennis Deloria.

Hero Worship performs March 10th and March 17th at 8:00 PM. Tickets are free, but reservations are required. To reserve seat, call 703-820-9771.


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