white building, 1800s style, with a marquee, Robbins Theatre

Robbins Theatre & Kent State Trumbull

by Sebastian Marconi

Questions answered by Kent State University Trumbull Faculty Member Eric Kildow

Eric Kildow portrait
Eric Kildow, Associate Professor of Theatre at Kent State Trumbull & Manager of Kent Trumbull Theatre

While doing another educational program, I lived in Trumbull County (Niles) for about a year and a half before I started classes at KSUT. Prior to moving back to my hometown (I live on the west side of Cleveland), I found that many local people in the Trumbull area I’ve gotten to know think there isn’t much to do. While aspects of this might be true considering how badly the Youngstown-Warren Region has been affected by deindustrialization, I decided it might be a good effort to not only explore interesting assets to the area, but also to show how they might benefit KSU students at the Trumbull Campus. Overall, my goal here is to provide some form of community engagement between students and a local asset. This article will focus on activities that would appeal to students interested in theatre and performing arts. While I have yet to visit, I have been following up on the restoration of the historic Robbins Theatre. Built in 1923, Robbins Theatre has recently been restored after sitting abandoned for years. As someone who loves history, I believe having Robbins Theatre reopened will not only provide something new for entertainment in the area but will also help to tell the story of this region’s past. With its beautiful early 20th century architecture, the theatre’s interior shows how much more elegant simple, everyday locations were back in the day. So many of the region’s heritage has been lost over time, so having the ability to enjoy Robbins Theatre after being abandoned is truly a privilege.

Unfortunately, I was not able to reach Robbins Theatre for a formal comment. I did however briefly interview Eric Kildow, an assistant theatre professor and production director at Kent State University Trumbull. Kildow is familiar with the operations at Robbins Theatre and has to say the following:

(Q): What kind of performances occur at Robbins Theatre?
(A): The Robins Theatre has performed concerts, as well as hosted community theatre from the Trumbull New Theatre Company. They also regularly show old movies. Since I don’t really work with the Robins, I only know what it is that they list on their website. They’ve also been closed down a fair bit due to the current pandemic.

(Q) In what ways could Robbins Theatre be of an interest for KSU Students, particularly those studying theatre and the arts?
(A) I imagine that operating a performance venue could interest students who are looking to study arts administration, our students who are interested in touring productions since they host a lot of touring companies and concerts.

(Q) Is there a possibility for (after COVID more or less) to have possible partnerships or events with/between KSU Trumbull and Robbins Theatre?
(A) I would say that there is the potential for collaboration between the Robins and KSU Trumbull. What exactly that might look like at current, I am not sure. But they are a major community resource in terms of the performing arts.

Robbins Theatre is an excellent local asset that would well serve KSU students studying film and theater. I encourage anybody who is passionate about performing arts to not only check it out, but also maybe volunteer or apply for a job. It is my hope that Robbins will (as the pandemic situation ceases) will continue to entertain its audiences and educate the region on the rich history it displays. To learn more about Robbins Theatre, check out: Robins Theatre.

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