October 27, 1945 — January 20, 2012
Film Edited by Robb Nanus
“Signature Theatre mourns the loss of our beloved Education Director,
Marcia ‘Marsh’ Gardner.
Over her 23 year history of working for the theatre — she appeared on stage, was tireless in her help with local playwrights, started new free arts programs for the community and founded our award-winning Signature in the Schools program.
She touched thousands of lives with her generous spirit, smiling face and fearless talents.
She has left an amazing legacy and we will miss her every day.
We are so honored to have been a part of her amazing journey.
Marcia’s Signature career began when she appeared in the first ever Signature production, Mill Fire, and continued later with performances in Angels in America and Poor Superman, for which she received a Helen Hayes nomination. On the other side of the footlights, Marcia initiated Signature’s play reading series, beginning in 1991 and continuing through 2005. She then served as Signature’s Literary Manager from 1992 to 2003 and Casting Director from 1999 to 2005, followed in 2006 by becoming Education Director. Her work at Signature also includes dramaturgy for John Strand’s The Diaries (Charles MacArthur Award nomination), Three Nights in Tehran, Otabenga, Norman Allen’s In The Garden (Charles MacArthur Award), Melville Slept Here, Waiting in Tobolsk (both nominated for the Charles MacArthur Award), and Nijinsky’s Last Dance (Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Play), Grace Barnes’ Zander’s Boat, and Roland Reed’s Vera, which she also directed (Mary Goldwater Award for outstanding production). Prior to coming to Signature, Marcia taught at The University of Minnesota and Hamline University where she was also Director of Theater. As an actor, she appeared at The Guthrie Theatre, Berkeley Rep, Cleveland Playhouse, Minneapolis Children’s Theatre and Colorado Shakespeare Festival. A graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Art in NYC and the University of California at Berkeley, she held MFA degrees in directing and playwriting from the University of Minnesota. In 2008, she received the WETA Hometown Hero Award for her work with students.
In addition to her artistic contributions as a director, dramaturg and actor, Marcia leaves an incredible legacy through Signature’s education program, including the flagship program Signature in the Schools (1998 The Washington Post Award for Distinguished Community Service and the 2005 Arlington County Board of Education Outstanding Partnership Award). Signature in the Schools develops and produces an original one-act play with students from Wakefield High School and is performed for audiences from Arlington High Schools. Other education projects in the Arlington schools include technical and audition workshops, a playwriting program, as well as resource guides to accompany the Signature in the Schools original scripts on historical subjects and events. Education programs also reach out to young theatre artists across the country. Overtures Musical Theater Institute is Signature’s intensive two-week training workshop for young musical performers that is held every summer at Signature Theatre.”