Cofounded in 1994 by Danny Glover and Ben Guillory, "The Robey Theatre Company" has been dedicated to finding and developing new plays about the Black American experience as well as reinterpreting established works. On Sunday, February 24th, "The Robey Theatre Company" and the African American Film Critics Association and friends held an inaugural "Academy Award Viewing Party Fundraiser" at the Los Angeles Center Studios.
Chairman of the Board of Directors, Karen Chapelle said she wanted to have "a collaboration of different organizations in the community; so we have a diversity of ethnicities. We have politicians, we have actors, film, theatre, television and we have the sports contingent here as well. So it's really a very collegial, collaborative effort and all coming together to raise money for Robey to try to get a new theatre. It's almost been 20 years since we've been in business and we would like to have our own home." The fundraiser was sponsored by "On Native Ground," a tribally chartered non-profit film and media group through the Hoopa tribe.
Actor, producer and humanitarian Danny Glover takes pride in the company believing it is worthy of what we consider to be important steps in our own growth and development as artists. "Robey theatre is a home space for playwrights, it is a home space for actors who are developing their craft of growing, it is a home space for directors and a home space to do the kind of work and do the community outreach that I think is essential in what we refer to as community theatre. Robey has been doing that. In a city that is devoted to one industry and to see itself permit primarily as an appendage of that industry [the film industry,] I think it's important to expand on the idea of art and culture, to go beyond just what we see on the silver screen. Art happens in our lives, we all live it, do the plays and do the things of what our possibilities are. Art is at the forefront of that and embellishes the possibilities of who we can be as human beings."
The inspirational Academy Award winning actress Viola Davis, started in theatre and stands strongly behind Robey. "My husband and I produced a play with The Robey Theatre this past year and we come from the theatre. I've been in theatre for 33 years, started in New York with August Wilson plays on Broadway, off Broadway; theatre is my love. I think this theatre should be encouraged- I think that everything they do is excellent and I think that we need more African American theatres to be in the mainstream."
AAFCA president Gil Robertson was happy The Robey Theatre and African American Film Critics Association could come together for their first annual Oscar Viewing Party Fundraiser and hoped to provide their guests with a fun filled environment that could allow everyone to network and really plant the seeds for future collaborations. The Robey Theatre's own, actress Betty Slater came out to support the company that is helping her to do what she loves. She's participated in The Advanced Scene Study Acting Workshop and has a play she's writing that is in their Playwright Workshop. She hopes to see the company expand, more supporters behind the scenes as well in front and believes strongly theatre is very much alive and important; proof being so many big actors who now star on the big screen, had their start in the theatre.
The event was held in a two story building, the downstairs held the red carpet greetings, full bar and large theatre room in which guests were able to watch The Oscars. Upstairs, beautiful art and jewelry were available for purchase. For the guests enjoyment, a lounge area with music: Jazz, Hip Hop and Bebop Jazz melodiously played. Delicious ravioli, penne pasta, salad and stuffed mushrooms were served. A raffle was also held towards the end of the night.
The Robey Theatre thinks on a level of excellence and everything they do is that indeed, excellent. They provide the opportunity for those with a dream to see it to fruition while learning, honing and perfecting their craft. The Fundraiser was a wonderful event in which all came together to see a theatre with such impeccable talent reach their hope of raising enough money for a new home. It was an event in which those at the start of their careers, and those at the top of their careers could come together for their love of art to see a theatre with such great intent continue to live its legend.
Photo Credit: Danny Glover- Sandy Schwartz