Our History

benDanny

Robey Theatre Company co-founders, Ben Guillory and Danny Glover at the opening night reception

Background and History

Founded in 1994 and incorporated in 1996, The Robey Theatre Company is the brainchild of co-founders, colleagues and friends, Ben Guillory and Danny Glover.  Both theatre veterans, felt there was a great need for a professional company of artists who believed in the transformational power of Theatre – specifically, plays that would tell the vital and complex stories of the global black experience.  

Since inception, the organization has grown its programming and has produced multiple award-winning stage plays. The Robey Theatre Company has served as the training ground for some of the nations most recognized actors of color and launched extraordinary careers.  The organization continues to expand its reach, while remaining committed to its founding purpose of developing original works.

What’s in a Name? Inspired by the renowned artist and activist, Paul Robeson – Robey as he was affectionately known to his friends – for more than twenty-five years, the organization has served the Los Angeles Arts Community as curators of socially conscious theatre productions and foster a community of artists of color through acting workshops, playwriting labs, staged readings, and productions reflecting its mission and purpose.


Milestones

1994

  • The Robey Theatre Company is founded.

1995-1996

  • Eighteen classic plays are read featuring celebrity actors & guest directors.

1996

  • Company incorporated and receives non-profit tax-exempt status
  • First production-Souls On Fire by Patrick Sheane Duncan.

1999

  • Co-production with East West Players – Danny Glover and Nobu McCarthy in Philip Kan Gotanda’s Yohen.
  • Co-production with Elephant Industries for Tom Gibbons’Bee-Luther-Hatchee.

2000

  • Weekly Saturday Writers Lab was launched.

2001

  • Pt. 1 of Levy Lee Simon’s Haitian Trilogy – “For The Love of Freedom is produced by (Toussaint) with The Greenway Court Arts Alliance.
  • Ten NAACP Theatre Nominations; three awards – Directing, Ensemble Acting, Costume Design
  • Christopher Moore’s The Last Season with Chicago’s Legacy Productions (directed by Legacy’s co-founder, Harry Lennix)

2002

  • First Fundraiser –Discovered Voices – an evening of readings of scenes from new plays.

2003

  • Part 2 of the Haitian Trilogy Levy Lee Simon’s ‘For the Love of Freedom’ is produced.

2004

  • Part 3 of the Haitian Trilogy Levy Lee Simon’s “For the Love of Freedom” is produced

2005/2006

  • Tom Gibbon’s Permanent Collection co-produced by Greenway Alliance is invited to launch CTG’s outreach efforts for their then new Kirk Douglas Theatre.

2007

  • Robey accepts invite to join Los Angeles Theatre Center Cultural Roundtable– Face of LA partnership in Downtown
  • Medley of One Acts introduced.

2008

  • Gibbons’ A House With No Walls @ LATC.

2009

  • Bronzeville commissioned; world premiere introduces work about the Japanese American WWII experience as seen through the eyes of a black family living in LA’s Little Tokyo as the community goes bronze.
  • Joseph A. Walker’s play The River Niger is produced.

2010

  • Robey introduces three emerging playwrights and work developed under direction of playwriting instructor Aaron Henne and Dramaturg Dylan Southard
    • Transitions by Kellie Dantzler
    • The Emperor’s Last Performance by Melvin Ishmael Johnson
    • The Reckoning by Kimba Henderson
  • Transitions headlined that year’s NAAACP Theatre Festival and is performed at the biennial Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, NC.

2011

  • Camp Logan by Celeste Bedford Walker and Pity the Proud Ones by Robey playwrights Lab writer Kurt Maxey
  • Robey takes Bronzeville to the National Historic Site in Inyo County-Manzanar
  • Performances for five Middle & High Schools along I-395.
  • Lesson Plans and Teachers Discovery Guide are revised, expanded and re-printed.

2012

  • The Nacirema Society…by Pearl Cleage is read, Jasmine Guy stars and directs
  • Philip Yordan’s Anna Lucasta is produced.

2013

  • Bronzeville is reprised.
  • Reading at The Accelerated School (TAS 116 E. MLK, Jr. Blvd) launches summer festival of jazz; history and reflection.
  • 742 Middle & High School charter school students see live theatre, some for first time.
  • Robey productions during 2012 Transitions, The Reckoning, and Pity The Proud Ones are nominated for seventeen NAACP Theatre Awards.
  • Reading Front Porch Society by Melda Beaty directed by Adleade Hunter.

2014

  • Robey presented Camp Logan and Sassy Mamas both by Celeste Bedford Walker.
  • Knock me a Kiss by Charles Smith.
  • Weekends in Leimert featuring performances by Street Corner Renaissance, Testimony of a Negro by Maurice Kitchen, and Robey artists.
  • Reading of Uncanny Valley by Thomas Gibbons, directed by Ben Guillory with Vanessa Bell Calloway and Jeff Manabat.
  • 1st Inaugural Paul Robeson Theatre Festival.
  • World premiere of the Robey commissioned play The Magnificent Dunbar Hotel by Levy Lee Simon with 29 sold out shows!

2015

  • The Magnificent Dunbar Hotel @ The National Black Theatre Festival-Aug 4th& 5th (Wake Forest Campus Mainstage Theatre).

2017

  • The second Paul Robeson Theatre Festival
  • 2017 Dr. Du Bois and Miss Ovington
  • 2017 The Second Paul Robeson Theatre Festival
  • 2017 Yohen co-produced with East West Players

2019

  • The Robey Theatre Company 25th Anniversary
  • The World premiere of Dr. Randy Ross Birdland Blue
  • The third Paul Robeson Theatre Festival