Robin Bennett
(1948 - 2009)

Profile:
Robin Bennett
Nickname: Drama Mama

Birth:
Michigan
May 28, 1948

Passing:
North Carolina
November 10, 2009

Interests:
She wrote this: "I'm interested in the relationship between art and spiritual evolution, between how we imagine the world and how we ARE in the world, between our conditioning and our true selves--and how we can explore ALL that through art."
Guest Book
It's ten Mother's Day/ your Birthday Month years since I celebrated those with you here. I love you.

This Mother's Day week, I have seen, coached, and read an unusual lot of plays that I would really love to talk with my mother about. From that very alive Oklahoma, to a play by Bruce Norris (who she went to grad school with and loved), to a neato Eurydice, to a brilliant Fences (the 2nd I've seen live, the first one being the original on Broadway on one of Mom's crazy, intense, awesome take-Georgia-teenagers to NYC spring break adventures-- at that one, she sent a note backstage to James Earl Jones that she had a dozen teenagers who'd love to meet him briefly at the stage door, and that sweet giant heart of a man invited all of us to sit with him in his dressing room for a good, long discussion of the play, focusing our questions and asking his own-- something that Hassan also did at Friday's talkback, one of many gorgeous reasons I'm so glad this was the next live Fences I saw).

Point is, with no intentional design on my part, Mom has been popping up everywhere with me this week, ten years since the last Mother's Day that I could call her. That call would inevitably become a two-hour chat about everything-- plays, her kids, plays, work, family, poetry, politics, plays, friends, dummies who hurt us, yes mom that's really my cat I didn't have a surprise baby that's crying, yes I love pj's music too, oh good I'm glad you got to talk with Jamie, how great you had tea with Heidi, saw Dee, wrote Rosemary, laughed with Tyne, you would love this play I saw no I don't want to spoil it okay here's a blow by blow, you're right that's a great idea for framing that play with your kids, oh that post-its idea for taking notes in the book for your kids is brilliant, aw that's a great story I see why you're so proud of EricaJeremyTeresaCharlieJesseGerronEmilyGaryAndrewLaurenAllofem, and gahhhh you sprained your ankle why are you climbing ladders, Ma, MA!, I said why are you climbing ladders?

How I'd love to call her today!

Instead, I peeped her memorial website and read the whole thing (I'll link it in the comments). What a wonderful gift to read all the memories of her badass, inspiring, pushy, loving, inspiring, inspired time and impact on so many wonderful humans. I'm really grateful.

And Mom, I miss you and love you and I wish you were here to process the world with (though I'm also very glad you didn't have to go through earthly events since Nov 2016, for sure) and I'm glad you're often on my shoulder when I see a play and how I wish wish wish any of your Adolphe Bertauts had knelt at your feet with a perfect melon.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. Have a great whoosh around the universe.
Jenny Bennett (Daughter)
May 19th, 2019
My older brother, Patrick, was in Robin's Theater program (Fayette County High School) in the late 70's, and probably kept him more grounded than he might have otherwise been. He enjoyed great success under her tutelage, and was awarded a venture to Governor's Honors after his junior year.

It always looked like great fun to me, and when they needed some younger kids for a play (I forget the show, seems like it was Summer Stock), I was cast as one of the two boys that would run on stage for shenanigans/fighting! This wasn't just a cakewalk, gratuitous role - she was hard on us, downright mean, to ensure we played the part correctly, albeit only a few seconds of stage time!

We moved back to Texas as I entered High School, and I was one of a handful of charter members of the Thespian Troop at Allen High School, as a freshman. By the time I was a junior, we were rocking state competition in One Act Play.

I moved back to Fayetteville for my Senior Year of High School. I simply wanted to be a Senior, not be involved, have no responsibilities, and ride the tide of Senior-itis. Robin had other notions.

I took her acting class, as a schedule filler. Cocky Senior with years of acting experience! I remember her criticism of my "acting face"...here comes some acting. Stuck with me.

When one of the performers in the competition play encountered some technical issues (not living in the district?), she drafted me as a replacement. It was about two weeks before competition, and the play was an adaptation of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass - adapted by the students into a musical - heavy stuff! The theater program from whence I came was decidedly non-musical, so this was all new territory to me. When I didn't have the script memorized by the second rehearsal, she made me hop on one leg, rotating, tap my temple with my pointer finger, while reciting the lines repeatedly! Sticks with me.

We took that musical to State Competition, and we also took it to Robin's church - Unitarian, or Church of Unity (feeble memory). That was an eye-opener! Fayetteville, Georgia was so Bible Belt that even the Catholics were Baptist, and this church embraced secular documents in their services. Hence, our performance of Whitman's writings. That was Robin - irrespective of the expectations of her community, she adamantly challenged the status quo, and broadened the scope of those open the the challenge!

I helped out during my college summers, running sound, etc. Earned a degree in Theatre Arts (Southwestern University, Georgetown, Texas), and worked in the film and theater industry for 25 years, mostly in scenery and props.

Because Robin introduced me to the Theater at such an early age, the mystique never intimidated me, and I worked with some legendary folks during that time. So happy to see my buddy Gary Williams has become the star he deserves to be.

Although I have recently changed my career path, it's reassuring to know that I can drop into a local production if the itch strikes me.

Thank you, Robin, for your inclusion of a rowdy kid, and a surly teenager, and challenging me into places I did not want to go. My time with you was short, but very memorable.

Timothy McGarity
Fayette County High School, Class of '83
(Last county-wide graduating Class)
Facebook: Duke MacBoagin
Timothy McGarity (student)
August 14th, 2016
Dearest Robin,

It continues to amaze me how often you come to mind even 35 years after I was in your classes. Having two children who have both pursued the arts; a daughter, Emma, who loves the technical side of theatre ~ she started as a general crew member, painting sets, being a gopher, fell in love with lighting and design, ran a mean light board at a school with no actual drama program, and is now a Sophomore at Syracuse who has fallen in love with scenic, did an exhausting and exhilarating internship at WTF and adores the world of Ming Cho Lee and a son, Charlie, who is a HS Freshman at a performing arts magnet school with a major in vocal arts and minor in drama, they often laugh that they'll both end up on Broadway, but Emma will be the one who can support them both, I realize how often your lessons come up in conversations. Your influence lives on; the drive for excellence, working through fatigue and frustration, striving to stretch way outside your comfort zone, and having the courage to create something no one has ever done before all have been passed on from you, through me, and on to my children. It shows in what they do.

Being sentimental about the life experiences which mattered to me, I saved more of my materials from drama at FCHS than any other subject; the warm up routine including songs from Pippin, A Chorus Line, and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, the original Where Am I Going? Who Should I Be? script, dance numbers from In the Beginning, my final exam project complete with set, prop, costume, and lighting designs for Come Back Little Sheba (I still smile at the A grade I earned from you - you didn't pull punches in grading mediocre work and, for that, I am thankful.)

Because of my children and so many other reasons, I think of you often. My kids know your name and how you demanded and expected the absolute best of your students. They know it is possible to achieve the 'impossible' and I thank you for teaching that lesson so early in my life.

You are loved and deeply missed. And remembered, most importantly, you and your work are remembered. Thank you for that, Ms. Bennett, Robin, dear teacher of my youth.

All my very best,

Marykay Mentzer
FCHS Class of 1982
Marykay Mentzer (Student and life-long adm)
October 6th, 2015
I went to see the new musical of Dr Zhivago for Mother's Day - it was their closing, just like last year when I went to see Bridges of Madison County for you on Mother's Day - also their closing! Both were rather lovely (especially Bridges), both too something not enough something else to last on Broadway as long as the investment of time, creative capital and money would have liked. I miss you.
Jenny B (daughter)
May 11th, 2015
In 1977 during the class "Scene Studies from Musicals" Robin introduced me to the music of "Pippin". I fell in love and have wanted to see that show ever since. Every time there was an opportunity, life got in the way, until now. My tickets are for this Thursday and I just realized that this is Teachers Appreciation Week. How appropriate that all these years later Robin's lessons continue! :)
Laura Hume Higgins (student)
May 4th, 2015
Happy 66th birthday, Mom! I miss you. Maya Angelou died this morning. I'm seeing you in her welcome party of phenomenal women. I love you.
Jenny Bennett (Daughter)
May 28th, 2014
Ms. Bennett,

I often think about the pivotal mentor you were for me. God knew I would need you to become who I am today. And although I am saddened when I think of you because our final encounters were filled with disappointment, I also know that your passing was the final lesson you would give me. Never again will I take the people I love for granted and think that I have forever to reconcile.

Thank you Ms. Bennett, I love you.
Kimberly Chavez (student)
September 4th, 2013
Ms. Bennett was an amazing teacher and a gifted director. She spent hours of one-on-one time with me. She taught me subtext and how to effectively explore and navigate each character I portrayed.

Ms. Bennett was a true visionary and demanded nothing short of excellence and a strong commitment and dedication from her students. She did this because she believed that each of us was more than capable of being organized and professional in our delivery of everything we did, both onstage and offstage.

I have carried on her legacy by directing children and teenagers for the stage. I think of her every moment I dedicate creating a career out of my passion right here in the glorious city of Chicago.

I have applied many of Ms. Bennett's teaching methods in the summer theater camps that I worked in. Every time I said "If you can hear my voice clap once..." I immediately quieted and re-focused the children.

Thank you for inspiring me and giving me the courage to pursue my passion and dream in directing youth for the stage, Ms. Bennett. I know you will be with me in spirit every step of the way.

Miss you.
Kenny Males (Student)
February 11th, 2013
I miss you, Mom. I got to hug Bill Irwin this summer at the LCT Directors Lab, after two and half hours of his being brilliant and generous with us on art and the science of art and all. At the beginning of his session with us, he'd dragged in this giant trunk of stuff- costume bits, props, stuff. He put a big suit, oversized & clowny, over his clothes. He was so present, physical, sweet, generous. I really, really wanted to talk to only you about it, afterwards. And I wish you could have seen my Much Ado this Fall- I directed the SUNY Purchase 4th years. I love that play! And made all kinds of discoveries that, again, I'd like to talk to you about. And you'd have loved PJ's music for it, too. Your Grandbean is amazing (in her Auntie's unbiased opinion). I wanted to see a play for you today, but instead, I donated to CTH for their season of work. I figured you'd dig that. May go see a good, Autumn movie. I think I'll write down our play this Fall. I love you, miss you. Hope your ride around the Universe in the mind of God is amazing. <3, jb
Jenny Bennett (daughter)
November 10th, 2012
"I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led to those who help us most to grow
If we let them and we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you..."

Has it really been 2 years...? Time flies. But your memory continues to be prominently with me. I listened to this song today and thought of you, every time I hear it I do. Your lessons live with me and I still find myself quoting your advice and "Robin-isms" :)There are times I need your mentoring or professional advice and I wish I could email or call. I remember our last phone call, the last bit of advice you gave me. Sometimes, I think it's funny that I ended up living in the same neighborhood you once lived in, there are days I say to myself "I wish I could've gone to visit, met up for brunch at Sel-Marie or something..." there are times I need answers and I often wonder if the places I find them are wonderful happenstances of what you've left behind...? I don't know, and maybe I never will. But, I just wanted to let you know that you are missed. And that even though you're no longer here, you continue to be my teacher in so many ways.


Erica Cruz Hernandez (student)
November 10th, 2011
You believed in me when no one else did. You've changed lives and one day I hope to be half the fabulous person you are. Thank you for challenging me, I would have never graduated college without the values you've instilled in me. Jamie/Jenny, you have a wonderful beautiful mother, full of talent and life and love. Lord knows I do miss visiting you. It's just not the same at JCP without you.
Derek Kucynda (Student)
November 10th, 2011
We had our closing performance of All Shook Up (Spring 2011 Musical Production) not too long ago. Though it would not have been at the top of your choice of shows I wish you could've been there to see the last ever JCP performance of the class of 2011. They, and all of us, miss you dearly and we wish that you could have been there, but I feel like somehow you still were. Adjusting to this change has been hard, and I doubt that it will get easier, but whenever I'm in the Jones theatre or theatre I feel your presence, and it helps guide me.
Dakota Chisholm (Student)
June 9th, 2011
So, we left at intermission from the matinee play we went to see today - wayyy unworthy. Jamie & Mere made a much better choice. Anyway, we were gonna meet up after and check the TKTS board, but PJ & I both managed to leave all our phones at home. We were trapped in 1998 with slimy pay phones, but have lost all number-remembering skills of our youth. Failing to connect with J&M after an hour or more of looking, waiting, sunshine & tourists & Fleet Week in midtown, we decided to dash home and check phones. I asked if J&M were up for another play; we were tired and a little allergic to midtown at that point, but I really wanted to honor your birthday. I mentioned that I saw a choice on Netflix for Patrick Stewart and Glenn Close in a 2004 remake of The Lion In Winter, as an option. Jamie lit right up and said, 'Ohmigod, that's TOtally what you should do! If Mom were here, she'd say, "Oh, Jen! Let's just go HOME and watch PATRICK." So that's what we did, and it was great. (And yes, Glenn Close, while wonderful, wasn't quite Katherine Hepburn shiny. Your man was great, though.) I'd no idea they'd made that! I so hope you got to see it, though I'm pretty sure you'd have talked to me about it had you done so. So, Happy Birthday! I love you and miss you every day.
Jenny Bennett (daughter)
May 29th, 2011
Hey Ms. Bennett,

I wrote my college essay about you. I think you'd like it.

Ethan
Ethan Moltz (Student)
December 19th, 2010
I'm so sorry.

"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances..."

"Genius is born--not paid."

She was a teacher. There are not enough of those. I wonder if any of us ever really make it as students.
Tony Ham (former student)
December 8th, 2010
A year ago, you died. I miss you every day. I love you.
Jenny Bennett (daughter)
November 10th, 2010
I was a student of Robin Bennett during her time at WPHS from 1992-1993. I remember her being a great teacher and an inspiring person. A lasting memory for me is that she made her students recite several lines from "Into the Woods" while doing jumping jacks, pushups, and other movements. This helped to warm our voices and bodies before we began acting. I STILL have it memorized, 18 years later. :)

Thanks Ms. Bennett. You will be missed.
Russell Jones (student)
June 12th, 2010
Robin was an incredible mentor to so many young people, including myself. I wish I'd had more time with her.

Robin, whenever I do a push-up, I think of you. Strange, but true.

You are deeply missed.
Betsy Yancey (Student)
April 29th, 2010
Hey Ms. Bennett,

When Meryl Streep would be nervous before getting on stage, she would dedicate the performance to someone in her mind. Our production of Arcadia was last week, and I just wanted to let you know I dedicated all my performances to you.

love,
Ethan
Ethan J. Moltz (Student)
March 21st, 2010
Happy My Birthday, Mom. Every year when we talked on my birthday, you told me the story of 'meow meow years ago today, I was ...' - the story of my birth. I got so used to hearing it, I didn't pay such close attention these last few years. I wish I had.

I love you and miss you extra extra extra much today.

Rene's mom made me a brownie cake, so I have been caked. I know that was important for you. We always had a birthday cake.

And I'm now at the point for your old joke to apply: "The trouble with being 39 is that everyone thinks you're lying."

Love you, Mum.
Jenny Bennett (daughter)
March 15th, 2010
I miss you - wish you were here to share the excitement of Teddy auditioning and getting into schools. BTW, your children have handled everything brilliantly.
Tyne Turner (Sister)
February 28th, 2010
I haven't nearly the history of so many of you posting here. I have a simple memory, of Robin taking me in one holiday, my sophmore year of college. There was much going on in both our lives at that time, and we worked through some of these challenges by simply making bread together. By the end of the evening we were really laughing together at those things we couldn't change. We also had a kitchen stocked full of cinnamon rolls and bread.

Jaime, Jenny, my thoughts are with you.

Giving thanks to your Mom.
David Weiss
David Weiss (Friend)
February 16th, 2010
Many summers ago, perhaps 1960 or 1961, I decided that acting might hold some promise for a young idealistic boy caught in the grasp of a blue collar existence in the heart of Detroit. A brief advertisement in a local newspaper called out, seeking students for a summer of acting school at Will-O-Way Apprentice theater in what seemed a far-distant Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. I reached under my bed for the jar containing the hidden stash of money garnered from a winter of newspaper delivery collections. The numbers added up. I could afford it. Each day I would hitch-hike from Joy Road and Greenfield to the corner of Telegraph and Long Lake Road, a 20 mile jaunt that was a cultural world away. At the end of that journey each day was a world of excitement, learning and youthful infatuation. In charge was chief architect of the well-orchestrated chaos, Celia Merrill Turner who, with a mix of compassion, cajoling, energy, shouting and pure joy, modeled young students into actors, makeup artists, customer designers, playwrights, set designers and anything else necessary to produce a play. And for me at the end of that journey was the added attraction of Robin Turner. I was instantly smitten. How could any young boy not be? It didn't take long before we were something of a pair. Fortunately, for me, Celia saw us as an effective pair on stage and for that summer I was fortunate to spend it with an always enthusiastic, smiling and hard-working Robin. The attraction was obvious to all. We did little to hide it. And Celia, being Celia, let it ride. After all, we were just a pair of kids and besides, as she used to tell all within earshot, "they do something for each other on stage. The audience feels it." But Celia made us work for our pairing, rehearsing us for hour after hour, doing the same scene over and over until we got it just right. This wasn't about being cute or precocious. It was about being our best. Robin and I would furtively make our way to the small grove of pear trees and practice our lines and, yes, share a youthful kiss. My adolescent imagination, enamored with acting, saw us as James Dean and Natalie Wood. I was never sure how Robin saw it. But her energy was infectious, her willingness to share her acting skills appreciated. I was a novice, she was the pro, even at that young age, always wanting to teach and teaching in such a reassuring way that made you want to learn to always be better. I have always cherished that summer with Robin, the summer that helped mold my character. No, I never did become an actor. But Robin and Celia instilled in me the confidence to break out of my blue collar confines and seek a different life. I became a journalist and public speaker and today facilitate a variety of discussions and meetings. And each time I walk into a room to facilitate, I can hear Celia say, "now stay in character. Always stay in character." And when the situation gets a little dicey I can see Robin smile and hear her whisper in my ear, "Steve, you know you can do this. Just say the lines like you mean them."
I never saw or spoke to Robin after that summer and I suspect I shortly faded from her memory. But I remember her with great fondness and appreciation. And when I drive down Long Lake Rd, past the school where the theater used to stand, I smile and remember that special summer so long ago on the acting stage and sitting under the pear trees. Thank you Robin, so very much.
Steve Barnaby,
Will-O-Way alum
Steve Barnaby (fellow thespian)
January 19th, 2010
Ms Bennett,

You did so much for me, more than I can put into words. I always thought I met you at the wrong time, because I was so young and immature. But the truth was you met me at the perfect time! You are the foundation of everything I am artistically.

So many times I was frustrated with you because you always demanded the best from me. But it made me always want to be the best and do my best. You instilled in me a certain power I didn't know I possessed, the power of confidence.

I'm sorry I was so selfish and didn't appreciative you then the way I appreciate you now. But even then I knew you would always be in my life and I wanted you to be. When I found out you pasted I was devastated. I had just moved back to Chicago and really was looking forward to visiting you during the winter break. Who would have know that all this would have happened. I was so caught up in my own pain with thinking that I really don't have you in my life anymore and in my corner. But then I felt warm in knowing that I was so blessed having you these nine and half years, during such a crucial time in life. Who I felt for was your family and your current students, who didn't finish high school with you. I couldn't imagine all this happening while I was still at Jones. I am so thankful that it didn't and sadden for all the students who will never be graced with your realism and compassion for life and demanding presence.

Thank you for your love and support but most of all your guidance. I wish I would have told you this before but I feel relieved that I am now.

Love you and miss you,

Ashley

Ashley Cooper (Student and Friend)
December 15th, 2009
Not everyone is likeable when you first meet them. In fact, some
people start out on your "hit list" before you have even said 'hello,'
Robin Bennett wasn't on this planet to make a million fans and make
everyone feel peachy. She was on this planet to push. To push people
into their uncomfortable zone. To push people into the most
vulnerable moments of their lives. Ms. Bennett was here to make
things happen for her students.

Rehearsal or class, it didn't make a difference to Robin, you had to
be be present in the moment and grasp your reality with vigor and
depth. "What is the subtext here?" she would always ask, "what is
beneath the words?" This everlasting search for depth and meaning
leaked into every facet of my education and life. Because with
research and analysis came the tools necessary to grasp the world
around me. If I was having trouble in math, I found solace in the
fact that I could always search for the answers a little deeper than
before.

I owe Bennett for so much more. She is the reason I was able to
attend Jones. She saw something in my youthful enthusiasm for theatre
and film ... and she gave me a chance. She nurtured my passion for
film and supported my goals and dreams. When my parents separated she
was on the only teacher who sat me down and told me: "You have to push
through this with something you love ... film." And I did.

While I could easily thank Ms. Bennett for her constant flow of
recommendation letters for university, I would much rather mention the
dedication of her ENTIRE life to her students. She breathed art and a
passion for life into us all, and never made us forget that this was
our world to grasp. And with a push from Robin the entire world was
truly at our fingertips.
Jacob Yanowski
December 15th, 2009
Preface:
I had the privilege of working with Robin at Fayette County High School during the years 1981-1985 ("Finian's Rainbow", "The Merchant of Venice", "The Diviners", "Westside Story", "Perfect Miracles" and "Godspell").

My daughter, Miquela Skye Rivers will be graduating this May with the Fayette County High School graduating class of 2010. My daughter has spent the past four years performing on the same stage where Robin directed me. And I have spent the past four years serving as the musical director and acting coach for the Fayette County High School Drama Department.

Footnote:
Miquela won “Best Actress” at the 2009 5-AAAA Region One Act Play Competition for her performance of Sojourner Truth in "A Woman Called Truth". Miquela is receiving academic, music and theatre scholarships to Brenau University.

My letter to Robin:

Robin,
Thank you for being an amazing teacher and person…
I would not be the performer, director, mother and teacher I am today if it had not been for you. I now teach my students (including my daughter) the same skills you taught me so many years ago. I appreciate you more than these words can ever represent. Thank you for being a wonderful, inspiring, stern and powerful director, teacher and woman! “Because I knew you, I have been changed for the better…I have been changed for good.”

"For Good"
From “Wicked”
By Stephen Schwartz

I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you...
Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good
It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you
You'll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend...
Like a ship blown from its mooring
By a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a sky bird
In a distant wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you…
Because I knew you…
I have been changed for good…


Keena Redding Hunt
FCHS Class of 1985

Keena Redding Hunt (Student)
December 14th, 2009
Robin, I am grateful for having had you as a friend and colleague. Your intellect, artistry, boldness, and benevolence will remain constant reminders of why I must remain committed to our profession. Our conversations about teaching and learning helped me find solutions. On challenging days, I knew I could always go to you and you would say, “Wouldn’t it be cool if . . .” And you know what? It WAS a cool idea. Always.

Thank you for forcing me to apply for an Oppenheimer Grant and passing on your expertise about Podcasts and audio essays and project-based learning. Our afternoon conversations last year helped transform my teaching.

When you told me about your health in August, my heart broke. You know you remained in my prayers these months. And you remain in my memory as valuable friend and educator.

Ray Salazar

Ray Salazar (Colleague and Friend)
December 12th, 2009
- Everybody lies (except Quakers)
- Robin Bennett was the greatest mentor I had the privilege to be with.
I have always believed that the very reason I'm still sane is because of the Theatre Department and my mother's guidance. I understand and am with you all feeling heartbroken because our beloved mentor passed away. But, as Robin would put it, "The show must go on." I was never wrong to put what little faith I have left in you guys. You guys have proven me right that I am capable of using my intellect and my heart in sync. But also you've proven me wrong in that humanity is not a species that is hell bent on self-destruction. We'll make it, even if there are times when we feel so weak, so empty inside. I know that as not a simple fact, but as the truth. You all have something special in you, something that death itself cannot take. Remember what I said, what Robin told me:"Focus on what she has willingly given you rather than what you've lost". Robin gave us a life-long love for creativity and freedom. Some of us will be emperors of the world, some of us will be theatre teachers, and others will be playwrights. Regardless of the paths we take in our lives, we all have found what we want to be in ourselves through Robin. This is a line that Lily says in Act II of Rolling Hills

Lily: What you have to understand, is that no matter what, the human spirit only perseveres if we’re honest with ourselves. That’s why theatre exists. We are not some empty shells to be programmed like computers. We live our lives the way we want them to be lived. It’s the very reason anyone commits to anything; whether it is marriage, or an art, or even continuing to stay in the game. It’s like saying ‘yes’. No one says it because they have to, or because anyone else tells them to. It’s because they know in their hearts that they want to. (Act II, Scene 4)

Robin is the very example of having that freedom to live the life of choice. And that spirit continues to live on, in us.
Eddy Carrillo (Student & Friend)
December 11th, 2009
Robin would fade in and out of my life with a call, email or letter and sometimes an occasional visit. Our conversations about theatre, art, life, children never missed a beat. Years would pass and we'd pick it right up. Her enthusiasm for a life fully lived was infectious - a very special person indeed!
Leslie Reidel
Leslie Reidel (friend)
December 11th, 2009
Dear Jamie and Jenny:

Here's what I posted on Facebook. I'm not sure it's all I want to say, but it is much of it. Your mother (and you two, too! You were so much a part of Springbank at that time!) is such a part of who I became.

I wish that I could get away for the memorial, but I just couldn't make it work. Know that I am sending much love and much gratitude for your mother for the lasting impact she had on me. I think you know, you can see here, how she affected people's lives. She was a force, and her expectations of us led us to do things no one else ever expected we could do. What an incredible teacher to have, especially at a time when identity is formed. She is a voice in my head, even today. She's telling me to solve the problem. And I am.

I am sending both of you much love, Amanda
Amanda Perez (student and friend)
December 10th, 2009
Robin lived her passion. Even admidst obstacles, she continued to forge ahead. She accomplished a lot in her life and gained the respect of many.

Robin, it has been an honor to share the time I have with you. I love you dearly.
Barbara Weisshaar (Friend)
December 8th, 2009
Robin was a remarkable woman. I know her principally from others in her family, but it wasn't hard to see that she was a wonderful person who empowered many, many people and who opened the door to the theatre for lots of young people. May she rest in peace and may her family be left only with the gift of her accomplishments and contributions.
Sandy Robbins (Friend)
December 8th, 2009
I have so much trouble putting into words all that Robin meant to me. Everyone we meet touches us in some way. And every teacher influences her students. But there are very few people in our lives who actually change the course of events. I would have led a different life if Robin had not been my teacher. She helped me create integrity as a theater artist. She pushed me to find honesty in everything I created. She taught me admiration and respect for every facet of the theater. She believed that high school students were ready to be treated as adults. Her faith in us gave us the courage to rise to the challenge.

Thank you, Robin, for giving me the foundation I needed to build a career in this crazy business. Your faith in me gave me the courage to really do it.
Elizabeth (Bunch) Hutchison (student, friend)
December 7th, 2009
Ithaca
When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the angry Poseidon -- do not fear them:
You will never find such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your spirit and your body.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not set them up before you.

Pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many, when,
with such pleasure, with such joy
you will enter ports seen for the first time;
stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensual perfumes of all kinds,
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
visit many Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from scholars.

Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years;
and to anchor at the island when you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would have never set out on the road.
She has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what Ithacas mean.

Constantine P. Cavafy (1911)

To my incredible Friend Robin. Costas
costas Tzanedakis (Friend)
December 7th, 2009
Robin was one of a kind and an incredible mentor. She believed in me when I really needed it and pushed me to do more than I would have done on my own. I am so grateful for the four years I was her student and the many years that I have been her friend.

I miss you, Robin, You made such a mark with the time you had.
Stephanie Palmer Taxy (student & friend)
December 6th, 2009
Having a rough day today, Mom. I miss you.
Jenny Bennett (daughter)
December 6th, 2009
How wonderful to have a chance to say how intensely my relationship with Robin impacted my life’s course. Spending my junior and senior years in her classroom and Sam’s Auditorium changed who I was becoming- into who I know I was supposed to be.

My family moved to Fayette County just as I was approaching puberty and the change wasn’t kind. I hit high school shy, unsure of myself and with the tendency to cling to friends who could seriously overshadow me. Drama, the way Robin taught drama, allowed me to branch out in ways I know I wouldn’t have, acquainted me with people I would never have known otherwise, let me learn about things I might never have understood.

No, I didn’t go into theater. (I did however, do two student directed productions in college before I was run off by the “serious” actors, “Lemonade” and “Play it Again, Sam”.) I am sure it's no surprise that I ended up as a third grade teacher and still in Fayette County. But, I am a pretty damn dramatic third grade teacher if I do say so myself. When I read aloud to my students, I have different voices for each character and keep that voice through the “said the wicked queen” part, because I learned that sets the character for the listener. (You should hear my Bubba the Cowboy Prince!) When I do a British accent because my students have stopped listening, my A’s are as perfect as when she taught me “Prithee Petruchio perhaps your prattling prey hath from Padua parted.” When I teach alliteration, I always remember Robin discussing “Leave that lion alone!” and how the Ls gave the sentence strength. When I show my class clips from “The Miracle Worker”, I remember that Robin played Anne. When I take my students to see “The Nutcracker”, as I have done for more than 20 years and people compliment their excellent theater behavior, I know exactly what I have given them.

But, we are not all about what we do. Through Robin's classroom and the unique time and place I found myself there I met, worked with and loved, people that my southern WASP-y self might never have even met. I find that while I am not yet color blind, I am much more color challenged than I was destined to be.The benefit of that classroom to my experiential background is enormous. I am certainly more interesting or more odd –depending on perspective than I might have been otherwise. I can still sing the entire score of “Godspell”, “Man of La Mancha” and “A Chorus Line”. I know several songs from “Pippin” and “Annie” and, if my knees didn’t hurt, I could still do, at least, the first part of the production number you had us do to “Ease on Down the Road”. I can mime an angry white mob or an idealistic freedom rider with the best of them. (Ok, as least with them). I remember that Robin told me I was good at improvisation and I am inordinately, if privately, proud of that. I remember that once when I lamented that I was only destined for ingénue roles, she told me I had a funny, ditzy quality suited to comic roles, such as the princess in “Once upon a Mattress”. (One of my favorite things about me is that I can make people laugh. Is that when I found that out?) I have directed several children’s Christmas musicals at my church, I heard her in my head when I pushed my children to project, and to have energy in their hands, and when I told them to look at the person speaking as if they were interested because the audience shouldn’t know you know what’s going to be said. To this day, whenever anyone says, “I assume…” I can hear the response “Never assume” from “Desk Set”. It is one of my own private little jokes. Because of Robin I have memories I love, eating lunch in her classroom while listening to musical soundtracks, performance trips to Valdosta, Jacksonville and UGA, wearing clown white in class, what it feels like to be on stage.

And because of her, I know how much I love being an audience member. I know why it’s worth it to sit in the very, very back of the Fox Theater because it’s the only seat I can afford, to see “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoatl”. I know why $255 dollars is not too much for tickets to see “Wicked”. When my husband took me to see “Love Letters” and Jane Curtain and some guy I can’t remember sat at a desk and read aloud to us, I knew it was readers’ theater, not lazy actors, as some in the audiences wanted to think. I knew it was better to sweat and swat mosquitoes in an outdoor theater, than never to have seen “Annie, Get Your Gun”. I’ve been uplifted by “For Colored Girls” and kicked in the gut by “Shadow Boxes”. How not-at-all-coincidental it is that I wrote this on a day I was leaving work early to get ready for a trip to see “Briagdoon” with my daughter

I am grateful for all she showed me, taught me, gave me, and all that has become part of me because of her. Her classroom was a privilege. One of my favorite quotes is from Shakespeare’s Henry III, “When I am forgotten,… say I taught thee.” Robin Bennett, will never be forgotten.

with much love
Laura Hume Higgins FCHS 1978
Laura Hume HIggins (student and admirer)
December 6th, 2009
Dear Ms. Bennett,
My immediate thoughts - you taught me how to "play school" - how to be "smart and pretty" and how I could go above and beyond with my projects. I think of our wonderful theatre productions, grueling at first but which soon turned into a community - and the shows you made! Cabaret is still my favorite and I loved what you did with it. Productions I have seen since do not do justice to the seriousness of its message. The way you had us run the whole business - costumes, shares, sets, programs... it was a great experience and a great preparation. You gave me the skills to get in to the all-state production of A Chorus Line and most of all, you introduced me to the world of American theatre. Part of what has been so freeing to me about discovering Broadway and theatre dance is that it is truly an American art form. I am no longer trying to be better than ballerinas in Russia! I have found my art, I could not have found it without you. I am so glad you encouraged me to go for the theatre and to take school slowly. I would be a completely different person if I were at The University of Chicago now, not necessarily unhappy, but certainly wondering if I should have pursued my dream (and certainly several pounds heavier, thank goodness I'm not!). You are without doubt one of my most memorable teachers. Your presence fills the room. I can see you clear as day in the classroom as though I were still in high school. Much love always, you are in my heart.
Naomi Rusalka
Jones College Prep Class of 2006
Chicago, IL
Naomi Rusalka Cernota (student)
December 5th, 2009
I wrote this letter for Robin's retirement so I will share it again here.



Robin Bennett is one of the best teachers I have ever known. She can see a simple spark in a young person and fan it into an ember. The trio of Bennett-Meckelboro-Folsom was the best of the best of the arts in Fayette County and at Fayette High. These three are the three best teachers I have ever met.

Robin you were always my cheerleader. You always made me believe in myself, but when I turned the tables and told you how great you were,you always poo pooed the praise. Oh, I'm not that good you would say, but you were. Your were always my hero, and I would have given anything if I could have been the kind of teacher you were. No one gave the love, the heart, and the talent to kids than you did.

I admired the fact that you could be friends with Melvin Reeves when he never had a clue what you were doing or what you were about. You took a small town theater and made it a state star. Remember what the theater was like when you got there? No spots, just some yellow lights that barely lit the stage. Remember when the janitor kept polishing the floor on the stage, and you had to beg him to stop. He just didn't get it. He just thought he was supposed to polish it to a high luster.

I went to every play you directed.. Each year they became better and better until you were a real STAR. Theater has never been the same since you left.

I need to thank you too for sharing your children with me. Not having children is the one thing I miss the most. I have borrowed kids all my life and your two were the love of my life while you were in Fayetteville. I missed them terribly when you left for Virginia. You are a great mom. Your children are proof of that. Two fine young people who I am sure make you proud. I am sure glad I had even a small hand in loving them.

I love and admire you my dear friend. I will always remember you with a smile and a tear.

With fond memories and much love, Annette
Annette Ford (Friend)
December 5th, 2009
I wrote this letter for the retirement complilation and had no idea
that the cancer was back or that Robin was ill. I liked the letter & still think the whatever comes next for Robin will be the best yet.She will be missed by so many. My heart goes out to Jennifer & Jamie.


Fayette County High School ( 1982-1983 )

An open letter to Robin
Like many others I landed in your classes by accident, I think it was Drama to fill a Speech credit requirement and while the details are lost in time - I ended up in the Our Town production and as your aide.

I have been surprised how much of your training stayed with me. ( I am a modern major general) I can still recall almost all of the script from Our Town. You had a way of pushing to get the most out of very untrained & somewhat lazy students. Not many of us were headed for screen or stage but that spring we might as well have been in acting boot camp.

Congratulations on 35 years of teaching. There is no way to tell how many lives have been enriched because we happened to land in class where coasting was not an option but passion was flamed. Great teachers give students lessons that continue to hold value beyond the grade on a report card.

Happy whatever comes next -
Mary Chamberlin
FCHS Class of 1983
Mary Chamberlin (former student)
December 5th, 2009
Robin was one of the best teachers I have ever known. Students who had know idea they had talent would blossom in her classes. She turned a run down theater in Fayetteville, Ga into one of the best theaters in the state and taught everyone, students and teachers alike, to love theater as much as she did. She believed in people and she believed in me. I never went to her that she did not make be feel as though I could do anything I set my mind to. She shared her children with me and she made my life better and made me a better person.
Annette Ford ( friend)
December 5th, 2009
Ms. Bennett was an incredible mentor to me and so many other students at JCP, and I'm sure everywhere else she taught. It was such a joy to learn from her.
Emily Wills (Student)
December 5th, 2009
This is the memorial I set up for Robin Bennett. To sign the guest book, click on the "Sign Guest Book" button below.
Jenny Bennett
December 4th, 2009
First
Prev
Next
Last
43 entries
Your Contact Details







Remember to proofread. Once submitted, you will not be able to edit.

Select an icon to go along with your message.
Standard Icon - Default (Free)


Premium Icons - Optional ($5 each)

Adding a premium icon to the memorial helps make your comment standout. You can mark a birthday, leave a flower, or just show the family or friends of the person you are thinking of them. iLasting uses the revenue generated from these icons to continually update the site.

Candles

"I don't know why I didn't know about this, but now I do. I miss you so much and feel cheated that we didn't get to grow old together. But, I feel strongly that you are some where doing wonderful things."
Mary Dee Rooney
March 21st, 2017
"I think of you when I see my children's plays; they know of you and your influence on me. My son loves the stage, a baritone angel. My daughter is fearless, a skilled scenic designer. In telling them about you, your influence lives on, Robin. <3"
Marykay Mentzer
August 12th, 2016
"Hi Robin! Memories of good times and new adventures at FCHS in the late 70's. Haven't stayed in touch, but never forgot. Best teacher EVER! New York visit, In White America, Man of LaMancha,The Fantasticks! So many people you taught life. Love you!"
Patrick McGarity
August 12th, 2016
"Oh Robin! How many times I have shared stories of you and all your wisdom about life, love and heartache in the theatre with my own daughters! Thank you for saving my life and sheltering me through many storms in and out of FCHS. I love you!"
Jodi Miller
June 12th, 2016
"Hi, Mom. Five years after you had to go, you've got two Granimals up there to canoodle with. Copper left a few weeks ago (poor J&M were gutted), and our sweet Skeeter departed just five days ago (we're heartbroken). Now they can snuggle with you."
Jenny Skeeterlover
November 10th, 2014
"I'm living only a block away from where "Raisin in the Sun" was set. You would get such a kick out of that, and my journey. Miss you every day."
Rachel Tingley
October 7th, 2014
"Honoring you on your birthday. Memories of roses, cookies, & the Russian Tea House. Love & Hugs. H"
Heidi Ash
May 28th, 2014
"Thinking of you on your special day. Roses, hugs, and cookies."
Heidi Ash
May 28th, 2013
"Wish you were here to see a show with on your 65th birthday~ Love you. Miss you."
Jenny B
May 28th, 2013
"Robin, the world is changing rapidly in so many ways. I miss intelligent, thoughtful conversation with you."
Heidi Ash
February 13th, 2013

Comment

You have 250 characters left.

Share With Family & Friends


Email

to multiple people.

Create a Memorial

Create your own memorial website and then have family and friends contribute their memories.

Get Updates

Add your email below to be notified when visitors post to this memorial.