She comes with impeccable credentials and plenty of fresh ideas, which is a good thing because she 05-09-12-parrish.jpghas big shoes to fill. Robyne Parrish is set to replace Lynne Pryer as Gilbert Theater’s artistic director.

Trained at the North Carolina School of Arts, one of the nation’s top-ranked acting conservatories, Parrish has performed off-Broadway, in regional theatres, in film and television including Royal Pains, What’s It Like in California, The Baristas and Help Me Help You with Richard Kind and Steve Guttenberg. She has trained with world-renowned director and NCSA Dean, Gerald Freedman, Cigdem Onat and Broadway dance legend, Molly Murray. She’s directed children and adults alike in her 20 plus years as a director.

Critics describe her as hilarious, capable, sassy and vivacious.

So why Fayetteville? Why now?“

I have been looking for something like this position for a long time,” said Parrish. “My family is from South Carolina and I’m 40 this year. A lot of it has to do with moving back in the direction of home. Being in Fayetteville is going to let me slow down a little bit and really enjoy working.”

Parrish’s idea of slow may differ from what most would assume. She still has representation all over the world, will be travelling to Pittsburgh to direct in the winter, is working with a new theater group in town called Sweet Tea Shakespeare and is doing a show in Blowing Rock this summer.

“Part of my agreement with the Gilbert is that I will be travelling sometimes to work and direct,” said Parrish. “I will be directing two of the shows at the Gilbert this season, too.”

Parrish brings with her not only years of experience, but her connections from New York, Pittsburgh and other places.

“This is an opportunity to bring in guest directors and use my connections to bring in new artists to work in the community,” said Parrish.

When Parrish accepted the offer to head the Gilbert Theater, she was impressed by the level of excellence at which the organization operates, and she was energized by the board’s desire to move things to the next level.

“There is huge potential here. Everything they were doing was so awesome,” said Parrish. “What I have been challenged by the board to do is move to the next level of excellence. Everything they have done is incredible, and there is so much opportunity to keep growing.”

One of the first orders of business is the Gilbert Conservatory, a school for actors and other people interested in learning the ways of the theater. The conservatory offers classes in Shakespeare, voice and speech, musical theater and acting for the stage and screen. It is for ages 15 and up.

“The most important thing is that we are the Gilbert. We are not going to turn into something different,” said Parrish. “The change that is being made is that we are transitioning to a semi-professional theater. We still rely heavily on local talent. I’ve seen great talent here. I don’t see why we would need to go anywhere else. That is who we are and that will not change. The Gilbert deserves to be recognized as semi-professional. They are already working at that level and they should be viewed like that.”

Find out more about the Gilbert Theater and the Gilbert Conservatory at www.gilberttheater.com.

Photo: Robyne Parrish is the new artistic director at the Gilbert Theater.

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