My Montrose: HSPVA’s Dr. R. Scott Allen
The stage is not merely the meeting place of all the arts, but it is also the return of art to life–Oscar Wilde
Montrose Management District recently chatted with the Principal of HSPVA, Dr. R. Scott Allen. Dr. Allen discusses his passion for the arts and how the innately creative environment of the Montrose is an asset to the school.
How do you feel HSPVA ‘returns art’ to the Montrose district? And conversely, how has the neighborhood been a creative influence for the school and your students?
The calendar for arts performances and exhibits at HSPVA is full! Rarely is there a night when things are dark. It is my hope that those who are lucky enough to live in the Montrose area take advantage of those arts opportunities. I have worked on communication and marketing since I arrived at the school. While I feel we are doing a better job of getting the word of school events out, I know we can always do better!
The Montrose District is such an artsy area. The museums, galleries and theatre spaces in our area are plentiful and I think that people who visit notice that. Our students are able to walk to these venues to observe, learn and sometime participate in art. This creative influence is valuable during our students’ time at HSPVA and, quite frankly, something I think we sometimes take for granted.
Can you also, talk briefly about the different disciplines at HSPVA and the resources offered within the Montrose district?
We have five art areas at PVA: Creative Writing, Dance, Music (Vocal and Instrumental), Theatre (Technical, Musical Theatre and Acting) and Visual Arts. Each art area is very different, but they are all pre-professional and have a very rigorous course of study. Creative Writing was added two years ago and I am very excited about this young program.
How does being in the Montrose prepare your students for life as artists/leaders/influencers?
Being such an art-rich area, the Montrose district offers our students the chance to meet so many diverse people. The people they encounter at the Montrose Library, the art gallery just around the corner, of the theatre up the street, all bring a special experience to each conversation. There are many role models when it comes to artists in our area and those people do participate in activities with our students, both on campus and off. The Montrose Commons Neighborhood Association meets at HSPVA and this is something that our teachers talk about with our kids…The importance of being involved in the different levels of leadership. Whether a student grows up to be mayor of his/or her town or holds office in a condo coop, we try to show them that they have what it takes to be leaders and make a difference.
With all of the focus on ‘celebrity’ and instant fame, how does HSPVA keep students grounded?
Almost monthly, an alum visits campus to talk to students in an art or academic classroom. These former students are so important to the culture of HSPVA and bring valuable lessons to our current kids. These alum understand the hard work, perseverance and commitment that is required to “make it” in the arts. A few of them have attained that celebrity status and are quick to tell the story of sweat and tears that got them there. Our kids listen to these stories….I think it is more real for them…and I think that keeps our students grounded. I feel like our young artists are smart enough to understand that the instant fame or 15 minutes in the spotlight is not what they really want and that is a valuable lesson that I am glad most of them “get.”
That said, what famous alumni does HSPVA have? Have any of them been particularly supportive after finding fame?
As I said, many of our alum come back regularly to talk with kids and visit campus. Chandra Wilson, from Grey’s Anatomy, is currently one of our most generous alum. She played Mistress of Ceremony for our 40th Anniversary production, Encore 40, last year. She also comes to campus each spring and personally auditions seniors for a scholarship. She selects two theatre students each year and that scholarship is renewable for all four years of college. Chandra is a kind and giving young woman who I adore. We are lucky to have her in our corner!
What do you think are the best ways for communities to support artists? Is Montrose providing this support to artists?
I think that attending performances and exhibits on any level is the best way to support artists. Whether you are going to an equity theatre downtown or the little company that rents a space for a three show run…GO!! Purchase art. Attend those performances! Buy music. Just be involved in art!
Where do you find your art in the Montrose? This could be anything you want it to be.
I love that I can wander down the street to the coffee shop and see art hanging on the ways. The Menil Collection is a quick walk from the school. Main Stage Theatre….just around the corner. Art is EVERYWHERE. The longer I am at HSPVA, the more I find. I usually stay busy attending the events here at school, but when I can, I try to find new places for an art fix! I am so lucky to be here!
Lastly, please share any exciting news/info about HSPVA
Every year brings new and exciting performances and events for our kids. A highlight this year is the Theatre Department’s upcoming production of Rent. This is such an important musical with a touching message that I am thrilled our students have a chance to share. Now I will get in trouble for mentioning that department and not the other four! LOTS happening in every department. The calendar of events is posted on our website (www.hspva.org). Look around and then come see the talent our students bring to your neighborhood!
Check out this list of HSPVA alums!
Lisa Hartman Black (actress)
Helen Childress (screenwriter of the 1995 romantic comedy film Reality Bites)
Susan Choi (novelist)
Mireille Enos (Tony Award nominee for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Emmy Award nominee for The Killing)
Michelle Forbes (Emmy Award nominated actress The Killing, also starred in Homicide: Life On The Street, True Blood, In Treatment)
Justin Furstenfeld (lead singer, guitarist, lyricist and frontman of the rock band “Blue October”)
Ryan Delahoussaye (multi-talent [violin, viola, mandolin, keyboards] member of the rock band Blue October)
Robert Glasper (prominent jazz musician; signed to Blue Note Records)
Bianna Golodryga (TV journalist and co-anchor of Good Morning America Weekend Edition)
John Gremillion (voice actor in anime films)
Ralphie May (Comedian)
Everette Harp (Jazz musician)
Sara Hickman (Singer and songwriter)
Beyoncé Knowles (Multiple Grammy Award winning musician, Golden Globe Nominee actress and model for House of Deréon – dropped out to pursue career in music)
Bryan-Michael Cox (Grammy Award winning songwriter/record producer, 2009 Georgia Music Hall of Fame Inductee)
Jason Moran (Prominent jazz musician, winner of MacArthur Genius Grant
Adam Mayfield (An American actor, who has been portraying Scott Chandler on the ABC soap opera All My Children since April 2009.)
Matt Mullenweg (Founding developer of the popular open-source blogging software WordPress)
Renée O’Connor (Actress; O’Connor graduated from another school)
Mark Payne (Emmy Award winning makeup artist, Multiple Award winning filmmaker and author)
Donnie Scantz (Multiple Grammy Nominated music producer and songwriter)
Kendrick Scott (Jazz musician)
Mark Seliger (Photographer)
Ronen Segev (Classical Pianist)
Helen Sung (Professional musician)
Jimmy Tsai (Independent filmmaker, author of Ping Pong Playa)
Chandra Wilson (Emmy nominated Actress)
Kevin Cahoon (Broadway Performer)
Hannah Jones (America’s Next Top Model 2011 final 3)
Wendee Lee Curtis (Broadway Performer, Professional TV Host/Broadcaster)