June 10, 2020

Spotlight on Faculty: Jamie Robinson

Jamie Robinson
Jamie Robinson

Jamie Robinson is the newest addition to the Full-Time Faculty in the Acting Area of the Department of Theatre. We’re pleased to introduce him to our community! Welcome Jamie!

1. Who are you?

I am Jamie Robinson, he/him. Born and raised in Toronto’s west end, I am of mixed Caribbean and European ancestry with Black diaspora roots in several West African Tribes and Nations. I’ve been a professional artist for over twenty-three years as an actor of theatre, film and television, a director of both contemporary and classical works and an educator to hundreds of post-secondary emerging artists. These days, I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on and acknowledge the extraordinary privilege we all have: telling our stories and communicating globally through on-screen interactions, where technological materials and systems that are built and maintained are by the use of numerous diverse indiginous lands. I am a true believer in the collective creation process and instill values of collaboration and ensemble work into every production or studio class I am in. Now more than ever, we need everyone to be part of a team, and I hope my experience as a team player will fuel the next several generations of artists to be as respectful, daring and compassionate as I’ve learned to be. Teaching is a two-way highway, and I make it my mission to never stop learning from every lane I encounter.

2. Tell us about a creative or research project (or two) that you have been immersed in recently.

My entire body of work has been dedicated to the inclusion of diverse voices in the arts and this will continue to be my number one research focus in the future. In light of recent events, transitioning the work online will be an added challenge that I welcome as part of this initiative, and am excited by the opportunity to shake up our old ways of doing art. I am always interested in stories that punch holes in ideas about what is right and what is wrong, and then forces us to look at everything in between. The stories I’ve worked on that demand this sort of reflection often revolve around a significant period in history or about a specific cultural event, always with some kind of major conflict, not unlike the world we live in today. One such project that I have been immersed in the last couple of years, and am slated to direct, is a new Theatre play that checks off all these boxes, dealing with a time, place and culture that I was very unfamiliar with before. Though I am not at liberty to expand in much further detail at this time, I can say that it will be exactly what the global Theatre community will need after the “new normal” begins, as this story is set in an era where cultural norms were being torn apart everywhere. I’ll keep you curious about that for now, as curiosity is one of the cornerstones of the artistic craft, is it not 😉

Copy That
Jamie directed Tarragon Theatre’s original production of Jason Sherman’s Copy That, featuring York alumni Emma Ferriera and Tony Ofori.

3. What production or artist or scholar has had the most impact on you over the course of your career?

Without a doubt, Obsidian Theatre’s production of Djanet Sears’ Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God has had the single most impact upon my career. It launched Toronto’s Black theatre company onto the scene at a time when I was craving to understand my own place as an artist within the Black community. That show taught me about true diversity, ensemble work, theatre design in every respect, and how I too wanted the world to see Black artists and our stories. Shortly after that production, I had the great pleasure of meeting and working alongside one of the lead actors in the show, Sir Walter Borden, a prominent Black activist actor and educator from Nova Scotia who continues to be a close friend and mentor to this day.

Risky Phil
Jamie’s Dora-winning role for Young People’s Theatre original production of Risky Phil, by Paula Wing.

4. Is there an image or a quotation that inspires you?

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.

— Maya Angelou