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Main Stage Residency

ETC's Main Stage Residency program is one of our longest running programs, having started in 1999 at McKinley Elementary with a Spanish/English bilingual production of "Bottom's Dream," an adaptation of "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Since then, the McKinley (now Cardinal Elementary) partnership with ETC has been named the longest running arts partnership in Arlington Public Schools history. We received this incredible accolade in 2016 and haven't stopped since, including creating two fully virtual productions the 2020-2021 school year. Fall of 2023 will be the 40th musical Main Stage Residency at Cardinal/McKinley!

Upcoming Performances:

Cardinal Elementary

ETC & Cardinal Elementary's 40th production!

"Giant Tales"

Nov. 16 & 17 @ 7pm

In the Cardinal Gymatorium

Glebe Elementary

"Fantastical Fairytales"

Dec. 14 & 15 @ 7pm

The Main Stage Residency has two primary models: musicals based on classic tales and straight plays focused on building core curriculum. In both models, the participating elementary students create their own story, characters, and lines. They perform their own devised work for their peers and at free-to-attend public performances.


In our musicals, 40 students in grades 2-5 use a classic story as inspiration for not just their story, character, and lines, but also for their own production designs. With the help of parent volunteers, the student designs come to life so that the production includes student-created costumes, props, and scenery in addition to the script. Lyrics are written by the students in collaboration with an ETC Teaching Artist and put to music by our professional composer.

In our straight plays, ETC's Teaching Artists meet first with the classroom teachers to identify what core curriculum subject matter they would most like support in reinforcing. From there, the students in grades 2-5 (many of whom are recommended for participation by their classroom teachers) build a story around that subject matter, checking for accuracy in the information that they include. Many of the participating students in the straight plays are English Language Learners (ELL) and gain confidence in their language skills by creating, editing, and performing a script they have created in their non-native language.

For more information on how your school could benefit from a Main Stage Residency, what it includes, or what might be the best fit for your students, email us!

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