An Interview with our Kenny Leon Intern, Vincent Pendarvis II
As the Kenny Leon Intern, Vincent Pendarvis II is expanding his impressive knowledge of film into the world of theatre, particularly through his work in Literary, New Work Development, and Directing. In this interview, Vincent discusses his experience with the Alliance/Kendeda Playwriting Competition, his plans to become an Artistic Director one day, and his extraordinary opportunity to assist director Kenny Leon through the production of TRADING PLACES: THE MUSICAL.
First up, tell us about yourself: where are you from, where did you go to school, what did you study?
My name is Vincent Pendarvis II. I’m from Orangeburg, SC, and I attended Claflin University, earning a BA in Mass Communications, and Howard University, earning an MFA in Film. I’m a huge advocate for HBCU’s if you haven’t noticed!
Why did you want to be the Kenny Leon Intern for the Alliance Theatre?
It’s Kenny Leon!
Being such a fan of Kenny Leon since I was first introduced to this thing called “Theatre,” I knew that I could learn a lot being associated with such position. The Kenny Leon internship is a bridge opportunity for early-career artists, people that look like me, and I fell in love with the possibilities. I felt this position would give me the space to simply explore—explore both the work and the talent that it takes to produce/create a play. I knew this position would give me opportunity to have a hands-on experience in the world of art administration while pursuing both personal and professional growth as an artist.
What have you been working on in the internship?
Serving as the 2021/2022 Kenny Leon Intern, this position gave me an opportunity to get first-hand experience in the departments of Literary, Community Engagement, and Producing/Casting. I especially worked close with the Literary Department playing a key role in organizing the annual Kendeda Playwriting Competition. But opportunities were always endless! Did I mention that I assisted in assembling the Fly System and Snowfall for A Christmas Carol? But the highlight of it all is being able to serve as Kenny Leon’s Assistant for Trading Places the Musical!
Speaking of that, can you describe your experience working directly with Kenny Leon on TRADING PLACES?
My experience working directly with Kenny Leon has been more than a dream come true! To simply be in the room with one of your idols and be a student to the craft is still unreal to me. I’m constantly taking notes on what it takes to be a Tony Award-winning director! But the beauty of working with Kenny is seeing the human side of him, the side TV and articles don’t talk about. I think we get so caught up sometimes placing these artists on such a pedestal that we forget they are human just like us! So, Kenny constantly reminds me of that directly/indirectly. Thanks Kenny!
What will you take with you from this opportunity?
I will take with me the understanding that performing art is more relevant than ever! We’re in a time now where so much is going on, and people need an escape from their reality. So, I take it as a personal responsibility for myself as an artist and administrator to make this happen for society. Also, I learned it’s okay for each artist to have their own way of doing things. This opportunity taught me the power and the importance of the word efficiency—thanks to Associate Producer Amanda Watkins for teaching me that. She’s the best!
Where do you want to see yourself going once it's over?
I would like to see myself at peace with whatever work I’m creating or position I’m in next. I like the idea of pursuing a role in arts administration while still fulfilling my artistic desire as a director. I’m going to be an Artistic Director one day, and yeah, I just manifested that!
Any final words of wisdom or advice for candidates who might be interested in applying for the internship?
I would say go for it! Having this experience is probably one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Being able to discover myself personally and as an artist at a place like the Alliance Theatre, it doesn’t get any better than that! The amount of freedom I was given with this position to simply explore is truly remarkable. Since I arrived everyone has been so welcoming, creating a sense of family. Alliance Theatre has provided that for this country boy from South Carolina, and for that I’m extremely grateful!
The Kenny Leon Internship is a paid, season-long opportunity for early-career artists of color to gain experience in theatre producing within Alliance Theatre’s artistic department while pursuing both personal and professional goals as artists in Atlanta. To learn more, visit alliancetheatre.org/intern.