African-American Stage Actor And Play Director Darryl Maximilian Robinson Made Some Regional Theatre History When He Played King Henry II in James Goldman's The Lion In Winter and Sir Thomas More in Robert Bolt's A Man For All Seasons On Stage in St. Louis!Edit
"It is a rare occasion when I am genuinely moved by a theatrical production. I am often delighted or intrigued, but rarely moved. I was moved when I heard Richard Harris' final speech in "Camelot," and when I saw Sir Lawrence Olivier last year as King Lear. But Thursday night I was moved by a slightly lesser known actor. Darryl Robinson truly moved me in his role as Sir Thomas More, hero of "A Man For All Seasons"...Robinson's strong stage presence and command of Bolt's words, and John Grassilli's direction combined to produce a character so realistic and inspiring that I was left with the feeling I had just been through a religious experience." -- Steve Givens, 'A Man For All Seasons' a success, Theatre Review, The UMSL Current, Nov. 1, 1984.
In the fall of 1984, while serving as a Guest Professional Director and Instructor for The University Players of The University of Missouri-St.Louis-UMSL, skilled, AEA veteran actor and Theatre Project Company of St. Louis Member John Grassilli needed a strong dramatic actor that could handle the rich, lush language of Robert Bolt's greatest script and the leading role of Sir Thomas More for his revival staging of A Man For All Seasons. During his audition process, the actor who met the demands of the role, the actor who proved best suited for the part, was a then 23-year-old, African-American, classically-trained, professional stage performer named Darryl Maximilian Robinson ( a Chicago native who just appeared earlier in the year as a Guest Professional Actor playing the title role in Director Dr. James Barushok's revival staging of Shakespeare's Othello with The Stageplayers of Northeastern Illinois University of Chicago, who had just completed a second full season of critically-praised professional summer stock performances at The Enchanted Hills Playhouse of Syracuse, Indiana, and who currently was touring under a theatre-for-young-audiences contract with The MUNY / Student Theatre Project Company based at The Theatre of The New City School in the Central West End of St. Louis ). Call it grit, call it guts, call it nerve, CALL IT COURAGE, but Director Grassilli chose to put talent and skill above of the issue of race, and he cast Robinson as the first documented African-American professional stage performer in the role of Sir Thomas More in Robert Bolt's A Man For All Seasons.
The rest is UMSL Theatre History.
There have been numerous highly-effective and successful stage and screen renderings of James Goldman's most acclaimed stage play The Lion In Winter mounted around the U.S. and Europe during the last five decades. One that might be of interest is Excaliber Shakespeare Company of Chicago Founder and Joseph Jefferson Citation Award-winning Principal Actor Darryl Maximilian Robinson's 1992 non-Equity professional, multiracial cast rendition of the work presented under the banner of Excaliber Productions, Ltd. of Chicago at the intimate and lively Wabash Triangle Cafe in St. Louis, Missouri. Mr. Robinson ( critically-praised for his 1984 St. Louis stage performances as Sir Thomas More in Director John Grassilli's staging of Robert Bolt's A Man For All Seasons at The University of Missouri-St. Louis' UMSL Benton Hall Theatre and as The Cowardly Lion in The Theatre Project Company's traditional musical version of The Wizard of Oz staged by Director Deborah Lynn Wickes at The New City School ) directed and starred as King Henry II opposite a talented and racially-diverse cast that included Anna Altman and Deborah Phillips alternating in the role of Queen Eleanor, Carey S. Means ( a future popular animated film voice-over performer ) and Albert Stephens alternating in the role of Prince Richard the Lionheart, Patrick B. Hensler as Prince Geoffrey, Phillip Alexis Watt as Prince John, Louis A. Wells as King Phillip of France and Anjula Chan ( who skillfully designed the 12th-century costumes ) as Princess Alais. Of all of his creative and artistic endeavors during his five years of producing, directing and performing plays for audiences under the Excaliber banner in The Gateway City, Darryl Maximilian Robinson considers his work ( as an actor and director ) in James Goldman's The Lion In Winter a true career highlight!
"Excaliber Production's presentation of James Goldman's The Lion In Winter comes through without a hitch at The Wabash Triangle Café in University City. Though the play ran a bit long, the cast did quite well, with a few minor exceptions. Darryl Maximilian Robinson's portrayal of King Henry II is a balanced and finely measured combination of greed, deceit and compassion...Darryl Maximilian Robinson's staging and direction ( he is the founder and mainstay of this troupe ) work cleanly through an excellent script. I favor the simple set design of black wooden thrones and benches; it allows the actors to do their work without getting in the way. It's an entertaining show overall, one I'd recommend seeing." -- Mark Hamilton, Intermission Magazine, St. Louis Edition, Jan. 1993.