One of Black Cinema's true veterans is vital and very active on Broadway
this interview was done before Roger Robinson recently garnered the Best Actor Tony award in 2009. He was always one of my favorite actors in the Blacksploitation era of Hollywood films in the 70's. I am happy that he is still vital and doing great work on the Great White Way...
Roger Robinson: Taking Another Tony Award-Nominated Turn
in August Wilson's 'Joe Turner'
By Bridget Bland on Jun 3rd 2009 4:04PM
Filed under: Interviews, Theater
Since the revival of August Wilson's 'Joe Turner's Come and Gone' racked up six 2009 Tony Award nominations, the critically acclaimed Broadway production is a must-see production.
Ask President Obama, who took his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, on a date last weekend to see the dramatic play, which also stars Chad L. Coleman, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Ernie Hudson, Andre Holland and Aunjaunue Ellis.
With just a few days before the annual Tony Awards on June 7, BV Newswire chatted with best featured actor nominee Roger Robinson, who plays griot and conjurer Bynum Walker in 'Joe Turner's Come and Gone.' The theater veteran explained why this story has touched the hearts of theater-goers and how Wilson's legacy will continue to live on for years to come.
No novice to Wilson's work, Robinson has appeared in six of the late playwright's 10 plays, which chronicle the black experience across a century. This marks the second time he has been nominated for a Tony, the first time was for the acclaimeAugust Wilsond 'Seven Guitars' in 1996.
"I had never done this particular show or role. I met with the director [Barlett Sher], and he used a word that drew me to it: collaboration," he explained. "And, it showed me he would be open to exploring this experience with me, and that he would be open to black culture even though he was a white man."
And explore the depths of the role Robinson does in the near three hour-long tour de force.
The Seattle native's portrayal of Bynum has left such an impression that he's also being honored by his colleagues.
On June 9, the 'Brother to Brother' star will become the first African American to receive the 2009 Richard Seff Award, presented by the Actors' Equity Foundation to an actor 50 or older in a supporting role in a Broadway or off-Broadway production.
Robinson's only lament is that the entire cast could not have been honored for their stellar performances.
"I wish the Tony Awards had an ensemble award like the Olivier's and Screen Actors Guild but [New York] theater needs to do that because this one would have been honored."
Robinson believes Wilson is a great American poet and his "use of language is second to none, except Eugene O'Neil and perhaps Tennessee Williams." In the age of Tyler Perry's popularity, the 69-year-old actor believes that there is still a place for these type of theatrical productions.
"August is literature. [Sure] Tyler is a marketing expert and a genius to make his empire, [but] August Wilson is probably one of the most produced American playwrights."
Currently, 'Joe Turner's Come and Gone' is playing at the Belasco Theatre. It's set to close its limited run June 14.
Given its buzz, an extension is a possibility, especially if the play scores a few of the Tony Awards it's nominated for.