by Leon Banks
When I first contacted Ben Guillory, Producing Artistic Director at The Robey Theatre Company, I was on a mission. A mission to find a place I called home where I felt comfortable as an actor, a place where I could learn, grow and make mistakes without being judged. Mr. Guillory’s first words to me were “All you need to know is that ‘The Robey’ is exactly where you belong, your sensibilities are a priority, not an afterthought”.
Those words were present from day one, not only in Mr. Guillory’s teachings but within our meeting space. It was in my classmates every stride, the words they spoke and the emotions they exuded. While the approach is centered on the sensibilities of people of color; there is never a moment where we don’t explore other cultures or ponder how our culture meshes within the American theater fabric. I found myself getting caught up in the fun atmosphere not realizing the actual growth taking place within me. Mr. Guillory guides you but your fellow classmates do as well.
I will never forget my first scene, not only did my partner help me in settling into my first performance but she also guided me through what the Robey experience was like, allowing me to be completely focus on the craft.
At the Robey, you are pushed and challenged not only to be the best representation of a given character but also of a given world. Mr. Guillory answers your questions and guides you through an almost scientific process of why you have the questions you have and how you can help yourself answer them. Thus the class truly serves as a vessel for growth and achievement.
Growing up I was brought up to believe that in a true family no one is left behind. We are all in it together, rooting for one another and enjoying each other’s achievements. That has been my experience at The Robey Theatre Company; it has given me a sense of home, a true family. If someone has a tough day, they aren’t made to feel like failures but rather are encouraged to push through whatever walls are blocking their artistry.
Leon Banks – ActorI was welcomed in by a world class instructor along with artistically gifted peers showing nothing but the utmost respect and love for one another. Being part of the Advance Scene Workshop at The Robey Theatre Company has truly been an amazing experience and I couldn’t imagine a better place to hone my craft and call home.