Victor Pilolla spent over 28 years committed to theatre education in so many ways. A contractor by trade, Victor was a theatre kid who loved designing and building sets, but as the father of a young family, was only able to do this as side work. When he first took set building and tech direction contracts for the theatre department at Illinois’ Leyden District 212, Victor found a love for educational theatre that hooked him and within a few years, theatre at Leyden became his full-time career.
During his 28 years at Leyden, Victor developed a top-flight tech theatre program whose reputation for producing highly qualified stage technicians is recognized throughout the state. His passion for technical theatre education led to the development of a six-week summer intensive school theatre program on all things theatre-related, the capstone of which was a summer show and an elective course grade. This was a first at Leyden and Victor was fully responsible.
Additionally, Victor has instituted theatre trip programs that give students in the district opportunities to see shows that they never would have had access to otherwise.
But perhaps the biggest example of Victor’s commitment to educational theatre was his creation of the Teatro Leyden program. In 2012, Victor saw the number of students in the theatre program decline and rather than just accept it, he orchestrated talkbacks with the theatre students and the student council to try to understand why they were less interested in theatre. This led Victor to develop a bilingual theatre program to encourage those students who speak Spanish to come participate in the theatre. This program was such a smashing success that not only did it revitalize the theatre department, in 2018, Leyden was given a Magna award for Outstanding Accomplishment in Equity and Advancement. In 2019, Victor was given the honor and distinction of being the 37th Executive Director of the Illinois High School Theatre Festival.
“Solve the problem” is a mantra that Victor imparted to his theatre students everyday, empowering them to use their experience and skill to master any challenge. Well, EdTA has no problem inducting Victor into the 2022 EdTA Hall of Fame – his experience and skills are well worth it.