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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