Here’s to you, Professor Robinson

Kenthedo Robinson Interview by Jen Bush

Kenthedo Robinson is a writer, producer, director and educator.  He taught in the N.Y.C. public school system and was a professor at several universities.  He founded the Crystal Image Performing Arts Company.  This distinguished Alumnus from Park University has written, directed and produced more than 20 plays.  All it took was for him to see a production of Hansel and Gretel in elementary school.  The magic of theatre instantly resonated with him and his path in the arts was forged.  The Buffalo Hero of WWI: The Wayne Miner Story written by Mr. Robinson will have a run at The American Theatre of Actors in December with Mr. Robinson serving as producer and director.  He generously gave us some of his time to discuss this compelling and important production.

An incredible amount of research went into writing this play.  Mr. Robinson did his due diligence in obtaining accurate information and documentation surrounding the events in the story.  “I utilzed four years of research to write the The Buffalo Hero of WWI: The Wayne Miner Story.  I started my research in Kansas City where the central character, Pvt. Wayne Miner is from.  The heroic actions of The Buffalo Hero turned the tide of war into victory.

“During the germination period of writing this play, I started with the kernel of the main character facing a crisis.  He made a heroic decision to take ammunition out to the front line when no other soldier would.  I had acquired an authentic historic document from WWI written by his Lt. that recounted the final hour of his life.  I focused on

this moment and the first thing I wrote was a song/prayer based on the turmoil going on inside him at his moment of crisis just as he decided to take ammunition out to the front line turning the tide of the war to victory.”  

Across the ocean and down these halls

I hear the voice of loyalty call

So I lift my head to take a breath

To break these chains of fear and death

God, fly with me above this night

To win this war, to win this fight

Cause deeds not words will be my call          

Cause deeds not words will be my call

 When dealing with true historic events Mr. Robinson understood that there was an added sense of responsibility to represent information accurately.  “There is an extra sense of responsibility in writing this play because it deals with the same historic issue of World Democracy in WWI as we face today.”

Mr. Robinson believes there is a hero inside of us all and he would like the audiences to leave the theatre believing in that.  “I want the audience to come away with the idea that we all have heroic possibilities within us when we focus our deeds on the greater good of humanity.”

Mr. Robinson had his own profound takeaways from this play which gave him the impetus to create more historical works.  “What I take away from this play/production was born out of the deep and enlightening discussions the cast and I had about the serious issues such as racism, freedom, democracy, loyalty to country and honor for all men during the war in 1917 and today.  It has also encouraged me to write more historical plays because they cannot only entertain but also educate which is often overlooked in theatre today.”     

This prolific and gifted artist has a lot more exciting plays in the works.  “What’s next for me are a few plays I’m researching and germinating on.  One is about York of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the First Kansas Colored Military Regiment which was the first African American regiment to see combat during the Civil War which President Lincoln hailed as heroes that led to his assassination.  Also, I am completing a coming-of-age play set in the Reagan era inspired by the story of Icarus and Oedipus the King of a young man from Kansas City public housing who went on to become one of the most successful businessmen in the city.  Also on a lighter note I’m completing a comedy about a 72 year old mother who wants the starring role in her son’s superaction hero flick titled, My Mamma: The Super Action Hero.”

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