Robyn Cohen: Theatre, TV and Movie Actress – Theatre People
By Mitch Stark
Good morning, TheatrePeople! Another great week as 2021 marches forward, and the promise of more and more stages opening and the stories we love being told again. Speaking of, I am so thrilled to introduce you to an incredible actor and teacher, Robyn Cohen.
I met Robyn through the Teaching Artist Alliance and recognized immediately her extraordinary talent, dedication and kindness in (and outside) of her craft. Robyn may be best known for playing opposite Bill Murray in Wes Anderson’s Life Aquatic, but her other roles are diverse and vast. She also now teaches at her own acting studio in California, and I couldn’t be happier that you get to spend a few moments today with her insightful theatrical musings. Enjoy!
Robyn Cohen, theatre, television and movie actress, seen in Wes Anderson’s Life Aquatic.
What’s a show that inspires you? (explain away!)
Ooh…there are so many! DOUBT by JOHN PATRICK SHANLEY is certainly one of them! I think the writing is PERFECT! (It did win a Pulitzer Prize after all!) And the storytelling is amazingly deep! I’m still being impacted by it over fifteen years after seeing it. In the 2005 Broadway production, when actor Cherry Jones (playing Sister Aloysius) set out on a mission to do whatever it took to protect one of her endangered students, her acting was so strong (like a force of nature!) that it felt as if she was protecting me! Like she was taking a stand for any and all of us who had ever felt like they didn’t have the physical or emotional resources to protect themselves. It was a public theatre event that I took very personally. And it left me inspired by people (real or imagined) that take right action in the face of no agreement. To this day, when I think about DOUBT, I’m knocked back by what masterful actors can do in the hands of great writers.
What’s one of your happiest moments in theatre?
Oo La La…I’m grateful to say, there have been lots! Playing Bonnie Jean in the musical BRIGADOON in a 2300 seat outdoor theatre in Sacramento—when it was 114 degrees onstage was a “blissed out” moment, to be sure! I will never forget dancing the Dream Ballet to the sweet melodies of “Come to Me, Bend to Me” and being sung to by my imaginary Dream Lover. And his mellifluous voice and that breath-taking music. It pulled at every heart string and connected us to our passions and to one another in heavenly ways! We were “in the creative zone” together! The whole audience melted. Perhaps because of the music. But more likely because of that heat!
What’s the biggest ‘fail’ or goof you’ve seen on stage? (do tell the story)
Watching our GUYS AND DOLLS set collapse mid-show and seeing the actor playing “Nicely Nicely” try to hold up the massive New York City flats so they wouldn’t fall on us during “Luck Be A Lady Tonight.” The actor ended up running off-stage, foisting the flat into an upright position, and leaning it against his body to protect us from being crushed. (And to protect us from any further embarrassment!) Ridiculous! We laughed all the way to Intermission.
Why do you love theatre?
The theatrical realm is one of my favorite dimensions! It’s a place where we get to CONNECT and experience the aliveness of life. Together! And a world in which we might discover who we are, what we’re made of and what this life adventure is really about!
Theatre is for…
I think it’s about transcending. When we truthfully live and feel inside of imagined circumstances, we can travel through time, explore new places, and walk a mile in another person’s shoes. In a sense, theatre actors and audiences get to live many lives and experiences…And in so doing, touch immortality.
More about Robyn
Reach out to Robyn’s Acting Studio on Instagram: @RobynCohenactingstudio
Robyn Cohen has trained, taught and directed at Playhouse West, Studio 4, The William Inge Theatre Festival, The Victory Theatre Center and around the world. She earned her BFA from The Juilliard School, and has been acting professionally for over 25 years. In addition to the last 14 years of teaching the Meisner Technique and Scene Study classes, she has directed such plays as “The Elephant Man” by Bernard Pomerance, “Fool For Love” by Sam Shepard, “A View from the Bridge” by Arthur Miller, “TAPE” by Stephen Belber, “27 Wagons Full of Cotton” by Tennessee Williams and “Hello Out There” by William Saroyan. As an Actor, she has appeared in such productions as: “The Exonerated” opposite Jeff Goldblum, the west coast premiere of Neil Labute’s “The Shape of Things“/The Laguna Playhouse, “No Way Around but Through“/The Garry Marshall Theatre (starring Scott Caan and Melanie Griffith), “The French Waitress“/Nylon Fusion co. NYC (under John Patrick Shanley), “Proof“/The Long Beach Playhouse, “Rigoletto”/The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, “The Grand Tour“/The Colony Theatre (overseen by Jerry Herman), and in the west coast premiere of “The Father“/North Coast Rep. She has performed in NYC and Regionally with: The Actors Theatre of Louisville, Lincoln Center (NY), The Ford’s Theater (D.C.), The Delaware REP, Goodspeed Opera House, Coachella Valley REP., Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Great Lakes Theatre/Cleveland’s Classic Theater Co., Paper Mill Playhouse, Sacramento Light Opera, Bucks County Playhouse, and in the National Tour of “Cabaret.” She’s acted in the works of Shakespeare, Chekhov, David Mamet, David Auburn, Beau Willimon, John Patrick Shanley, Jerry Herman, Neil Labute, Jon Jory, Fielding Edlow, Theresa Rebeck, Arthur Miller, Jami Brandli, Christopher Hampton and Clifford Odetts among others. She starred in the T.V. series “Gravity” for Starz network and has made additional appearances on: “Law and Order True Crime,” “Cristela,” “N.C.I.S.,” “The Defenders,” “Invasion,” “The Closer,” “Angel,” “The Strand,” “N.C.I.S. L.A.,” “Starved,” “LAX,” and others. Select Film credits include: Wes Anderson’s “The Life Aquatic” opposite Bill Murray, “The Celestine Prophecy,” “Beau Jest” (with Seymour Cassel and Lainie Kazan), “Road Hard” (opposite Adam Carolla), James Franco’s films “Good Time Max,” “Fools Gold,” “Sal,” Bukowski,” and “The Institute,” and Richard Halpern’s cult thriller “ZZYZX.” She’s appeared in over 75 national commercials and currently resides in Studio City, California.