Scott Shallenbarger has been teaching theatre performance and directing productions at HPHS since 1990. He has also worked in Chicago’s vibrant theatre scene as both director and actor. Scott received his Theatre Education degree from Illinois State University and his Master’s degree in Theatre Arts from Northwestern University. Along the way, he has published three plays: On Stars Not Falling, Within the Shadows, and Whisper Me Home. As well, Scott has been endorsed by the Playback Centre in New York as a Playback Theatre director and conductor. “I feel deeply grateful,” he says.” to have had the privilege to work in an arts-supporting community like Highland Park for so many years. I have never had a shortage of committed, passionate, and courageous students. I am so blessed.” In 2013, Scott received the Dave Peterson Outstanding Educator Award. In 2017, Scott received the HP Golden Apple Award.
David Solotke, an HPHS alum (Class of 2004), has been involved in HP Theatre since taking over as props director in 2011. In 2012, he started teaching acting, technical theatre, and film. Since then, he has also been sponsoring stage crew, designing shows, and serving as the HP Auditorium Manager. He has also worked in the Chicago storefront theatre and dance scene as a stage manager and production manager. David received his Theatre Education degree from Illinois State University, and his master's degree in Directing from Roosevelt University. David credits Mr. Shallenbarger and Mr. Conway, his theatre teachers at HPHS, with inspiring him to pursue a career in theatre education.
“I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” - Thornton Wilder
Since the first curtain rose on a piece of drama, theatre has been an expression of life; a force contributing to man’s spiritual well-being, as well as a means of helping society in understanding or facing some of its problems and burning issues. Theatre’s primary function is to ask society to look “into the mirror” at itself.
It is the philosophy of the Highland Park High School Theatre Arts Program that educational theatre should be a means by which students grow as individuals by examining their sense of self and the world in which they live. This is accomplished through exposure to the diverse humanistic themes presented in various genres of dramatic literature. As they see, think, and develop empathy for characters and situations apart from their own unique existence, they are broadening their understanding of the human condition and adding dimensions to their perspectives of life. In doing so, our students will hopefully become more open-minded and accepting. Theatre can help in preparing for life; it is an avenue to understanding and awareness.
In order for this kind of individual growth to occur, we feel it is important to:
• Choose dramatic literature that reflects the human experience in a multitude of ways.
• Choose challenging literature that presents issues and ideas that inspire an audience to think and feel.
• Realize that theatre reflects life in its’ fullest range; from the dark side–which is often full of sensitive issues and uncomfortable situations–to all of its beauty.
• Be accepting of any and all participants.
• Expect and inspire commitment and hard work.
• Encourage and stimulate collaboration and creativity.
• Maintain an honest and trusting environment.
When all of this is accomplished and strong theatre has been created, our students have hopefully learned about life, the primary goal of all education, by illuminating its many aspects.