Allen came to the Nova faculty
directly from school (College Conservatory
of Music, Cincinnati) in 1968. Nova was on 'long'
years at that time so he graduated in May and
began teaching in June. Allen's first year of
teaching was in his words "something akin
to Hell." As the 'new kid on the block'
or 'low man on the totem pole' or however you
want to say it, his main assignment was hundreds
of 7th and 8th graders in a required class called
Experiences in Music.
He completed that year through sheer determination
and an intense desire to 'not be a quitter or
a failure in the eyes of his parents who had
worked very hard to pay for his conservatory
education.' At the end of that year a very disillusioned
young (21 year old) man went to the front office
to resign. This came as a total surprise to
the administration who made the broad statement
"reaction to your teaching has been excellent,
what can we do to keep you? What do you want?"
Things were slow to change but change they did.
The first bone thrown to our restless conservatory
graduate in 1969 was an after hours music group
called AITUVUS (pronounced 8 of us). Singing,
dancing (movement) costumes, and accompanied by
guitars, bass and piano, the group was a hit very
fast. Of course a little is never enough, so Allen
wanted to do a musical. Everyone said "you
need to go talk to Joyce Hall" so he did,
and I guess you could say they never stopped talking.
At that time Nova didn't have any performing area so the West LL (Language
Lecture) hall was transformed into a small theatre
in the round and the first collaborative production
was mounted. The 1970 Fantasticks was a big
success. It is interesting to note that the
program listed the director as Allen Hill and
thanked Joyce Hall for her assistance. Joyce
was a little reluctant to jump into this new
venture due to some less than pleasant experiences
before Allen arrived. But it didn't take long.
Still teaching full schedules, music for Allen
and English for Joyce, they 'co-directed' the
next show. In 1971, The Roar of the Greasepaint,
The Smell of the Crowd took over the East LL
and really turned it into a theatre.
Unveiled within the next year or so was the
architectural wonder, the Nova Cafetorium. About
a 6 foot proscenium, a highly lacquered stage
floor of light wood, a beige cyclorama, and
enough power to run 3 or 4 stage lights. However
when you have nothing and you get something,
you take it.
In addition to the luck of Joyce, Allen and
eventually the master band director Tom Williams
landing in the same place, it just happened
that Nova was in one of its more creative phases
where inter-curricular course development was
encouraged. It didn't take Joyce and Allen long
to come up with the first English, History,
Music combination curriculum.
By this time the program had
been given the east LL or lecture hall which,
with the help of some parents, wood, power saws
and a lot of pipe and chain, was turned into
Theatre Nova. This astounding curriculum was
put into play using every multimedia devise
available at the time. Film and slides from
the booth, music from the great sound system
and a chronological correlation of the arts
with history and literature. In the early days
of development, the classes were relatively
contained, with occasional voluntary help from
other Nova staff. Miss Thornburg (Miss T) helped
with choreography in the early years. When the
development led to the 'school within a school'
concept, Joyce, Allen and Tom were joined by
Alma Anthony, Pearl Schriber and Peggy Barber.
At about this time and certainly worthy of reminiscence,
is the Westinghouse Science Award given to Jim
Azar and sponsored by Joyce Hall. This is of
particular interest because of the circumstance.
Jim had been refused sponsorship from the Nova
science department (and not allowed in the department
I think) but Jim being a loyal and highly regarded
PA member and techie, Joyce said she would be
glad to sponsor him. Well - he won, Joyce got
recognized publicly for sponsoring a Westinghouse
Science Winner and a few others were not so
At the same time as all of this curriculum development, and reaching the limits
of the 'cafetorium' at Nova, the 'tenacious
two' came up with the idea of taking a show
to Parker Playhouse. The first experiment with
Parker Playhouse, the 'real' theatre, was 'A
Contemporary Revue'. This was a musical revue
so the expenses were relatively low for costumes
and sets. It was still quite a learning experience
for everything from box office to lighting and
stage managing. Once we did it (performed at
Parker) we simply couldn't settle for less in
the future. Of course that would take money
which was not readily available. The PA school
would not ask the general administration for
money for a show anyway. So, Joyce and Allen
did a budget projection and marched in to the
President's office at Landmark Bank and made
a proposal: "We would like you to open an account
for Nova Performing Arts and put $5000.00 in
it. With this money we will produce this show
at Parker Playhouse and with the proceeds pay
you back. If we fail to make enough to pay you
back, we want you to write off the loss and
close the account." You know what? He said OK.
The result was our first full musical on the
Parker stage for 5 nights, Mame.
About this time the program was attracting
a lot of attention and the Nova 'Special' years
were under fire from every direction (special
has a way of not being acceptable in public
schools). There was a real threat to the existence
of the program so the parents rallied and formed
the Nova Theatre Arts Parents Association, Inc.
This was the first time in Broward County history
that a parents association had incorporated.
Normal parents associations were under the complete
control of the school administration and in
this case that was the enemy so incorporation
was the way to go. The long fought compromise
was 'move the program to Dillard as a magnet
school making it available to students from
the entire county.' This move came with the
promise of a new PA building (of our design)
and a new theatre.