Director and local resident Steven Robman is known for directing the first productions of several iconic plays: Wendy Wasserstein’s important comedies Uncommon Women and Others and Isn’t It Romantic; D. L. Coburn’s timeless The Gin Game; and Ron Hutchinson’s Moonlight and Magnolias. In Los Angeles, he has staged productions at Mark Taper Forum, The Pasadena Playhouse, Antaeus Theatre Company, and the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble – and his television work includes Party of Five, Gilmore Girls, Law & Order, Northern Exposure, L.A. Law, Melrose Place, Sisters, Ghost Whisperer, and Thirtysomething.
He now turns his energies to Eugene O’Neill’s comedy “Ah, Wilderness!” at A Noise Within, playing through May. “O’Neill said that he wrote this play about the family he always wished he had,” he said. “Ah, Wilderness! is a side of O’Neill that many people don’t know about or aren’t used to. It’s his only full-length comedy. When audiences more familiar with “ Long Day’s Journey into Night” (the dark of of autobiographical] or “The Iceman Cometh” watch this play, they’ll be surprised and pleased to see that Eugene O’Neill can write jokes and can give them a fun experience in the theatre.”
Robman’s strength whether its stage or television is directing the stories of families, whether by birth, or nowadays, a chosen family. He has staged more than 50 plays over his career, and directed over 100 hours of television.
Robman points out that “It’s no mistake that the setting is the eve of July 4; it’s a play about independence. But at the end of the play, by virtue of making a lot of mistakes and growing up a bit, Richard is in a position to find his own voice; to, in effect, declare his ‘independence.’ He learns that you don’t have to alienate yourself from the people around you to be ‘independent,’ that you can still be your own person while immersed in the love of your family.”
The director notes that music is an important and integral part of O’Neill’s plays, and inspired by the play’s many musical references and moments, Robman will use music in this production as way to tell us a lot about the characters, situations and background of the action.
Robman said, “Our production opens with the whole family gathered around the piano singing a lilting ballad from the period. In the days before movies and television or even radio, families often entertained themselves by playing musical instruments and singing – and this togetherness underscores the warmth and congeniality of the Miller family and the play itself.”
After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley and spending two years in the Peace Corps, Robman earned an MFA in Directing from the Yale School of Drama and began staging plays professionally. Robman also graduated from Hamilton High in Los Angeles; he currently lives in South Pasadena with his wife, actor Kathy Baker.