Actor Taylor Robinson tackles the dream role of Rosalind in Synetic Theater's wordless As You Like It through January 17. In this week's Take Ten she shares her early theatre-making experiences, the joy and challenges of a silent, onstage collaboration with her fellow actors, and some savvy advice for youngsters who dream of the spotlight.
1) What was the first show you ever saw, and what impact did it have?
I'm not sure if they still do this but DC Public schools would send elementary school students to see The Nutcracker at The Washington Ballet. It was beautiful. I couldn't believe performing could be a career- because I was doing it everyday in class and getting in trouble!
2) What was your first involvement in a theatrical production?
My first involvement in a theatrical production was in high school. We didn't have a theater program at my school so a bunch of us got together with a teacher and made one. We were determined – and broke – so we would drive around looking for cardboard boxes in alleys to make props with and rehearse late nights building everything from the ground up. We put on an adaptation of Broadways' The Lion King called Maliki Simba, building Pride Rock, the animals, masks, and the set and I was Nala. It was......incredible.
3) What’s your favorite play or musical, and why do you like it so much?
I don't have a favorite play or musical. I love so many different things about so many different productions, I could never pick just one! That's like picking your favorite child!
4) What’s the worst day job you ever took?
I've actually loved all my jobs to a certain extent, except for dog walking during winter. Why am I freezing my patooty off, picking up Shiloh's poop in 10 degree weather while the client is home?! Because I'm a starving artist, that's why.
5) What is your most embarrassing moment in the theatre?
My most embarrassing moment in theatre thankfully wasn't that embarrassing. It was during a show at The Conservatory. I was to cross and have a seat in a directorial chair and I fell through the chair! I played it off - it was hilarious.
6) What are you enjoying most about working on As You Like It?
What I enjoy most about working on this particular piece is the challenge of silence I face every night with my cast mates and the pure enjoyment I experience feeling myself grow as an actress. Our bodies speak the lines. People come up to me and say they understood everything we weren't saying but feeling. Rosalind is a joy to play. Sometimes we think we know characters so much we don't give any room for "what if’s" Our version isn't traditional. Its a huge "what if," yet and still Rosalind triumphs.
7) Other than your significant other, who’s your dream date (living or dead) and why?
My dream date would definitely involve food. Actually the food might be the date. Honestly though, I don't have a celeb crush or even a normal person crush. Yeah, I pick food.
8) What is your dream role/job?
I feel like my dream role/job would be Nala in The Lion King on Broadway and also any other role that can pay my bills.
9) If you could travel back in time, what famous production or performance would you choose to see?
Michael Jackson- on any stage, anywhere, performing anything.
10) What advice would you give to an 8 year-old smitten by theatre / for a graduating MFA student?
Don't you ever lose that hunger. Don't you ever listen to anything other than your own heart. Don't you ever give up on yourself. Save that extra lunch money, you're going to need it for retirement. Get to work!
A Washington, DC native and graduate of The National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts in Georgetown, Taylor Robinson's work ranges from HalfMad Theatre's Death and the Mermaid to reLEASE Physical Theatre's straight on till mourning and the Shakespeare Theatre Company's A Midsummer Night's Dream. She appeared in Size Doesn't Matter at the Capital Fringe, in THEARC's Unraveled and in Seed for the DC Black Theater Festival.