Memorial Service Held for FIU Theatre Professor

Associate Professor at FIU’s Department of Theatre, Wayne E. Robinson, Jr. passed away at the age of 60. (Photo Courtesy of Kali-Ray Skinner)

Kali-Ray Skinner / Contributing Writer.

Associate Professor at FIU’s Department of Theatre, Wayne E. Robinson, Jr. passed away at the age of 60. 

He was a director, professional actor, and acting coach who was loved by his students and fellow faculty. In his career, he directed and acted in over 70 productions around the country.

On Saturday, Sept. 5,  a celebration of life memorial service was held to commemorate him via Zoom. 200 of his friends, students, fellow faculty members and his past teachers were in attendance. 

Professor and Chair of FIU Theatre, Joel Murray, was the first to speak during the evening service. 

”He was genuine, sincere, talented, creative, and he was smart,” Murray said. “I know we’ll all miss him and I’m so very glad I got a chance to know him.”

Many of Robinson’s former students spoke of his freedom in teaching and how he supported them with his empathy, love, humor, and expressive way of being. A beautiful collaborative video tribute created by his students, friends, and even his former classmates followed. 

Many of Robinson’s students expressed how he believed in them even when they couldn’t believe in themselves. 

Danny Pino, an FIU alumni who graduated in 1996 and Lilly Bernal Pino who graduated in 1997 were in attendance among some of the former students who were taught by the theater professor. 

Pino is best known for his roles in NBC’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and the Warner Brothers series “Cold Case” and Pino for her role as Rosa’s mother in “Rosa”.

Robinson received a Master of Fine Arts in acting at the National Theatre Conservatory and a Bachelors of Science in theatre from Northwestern University. 

Jennifer McCray Rincón was Robinson’s former acting teacher at the National Theatre Conservatory. 

She spoke of the incredible bond and relationship that is often found between colleagues in the theatre industry. As soon as she met Robinson, she said that she felt a soul connection. 

“He was my student but immediately my colleague, my friend, and my little brother,” said Rincón.

Using Zoom’s chat feature, attendees shared heartfelt thoughts and comments throughout the memorial. 

Students, former classmates and fellow faculty members of Robinson came together via Zoom to remember the late theatre professor.

Students of Robinson spoke with each other on the chat about shows that they performed together in memory of him, and the ups and downs that went with the dress rehearsal.

The memorial included readings from meaningful productions he directed over his lifetime, excerpts from books, and poetry, including the poem by E.E. Cummings, “I Carry Your Heart With Me (I Carry It In My Heart)” which was performed by Associate Professors of Theatre at FIU, Phillip Church and Lesley-Ann Timlick.

Tribute videos from friends and students along with a touching photo slideshow of his time at FIU helped paint the compassionate character that was Robinson.

“Wayne had so much love to give. He felt things so deeply,” Ivan Lopez, an assistant theater professor said. “Wayne, thank you for everything you did for me, all the big things and the small things. I will miss you dearly, but I will always carry you in my heart,” 

The two hour memorial service ended with all participants singing the song “Guantanamera”, which was a “pre-show” ritual students partook in before performing with Robinson.

After the memorial service concluded, there were five different Zoom rooms where the attendants could continue to speak with each other about Robinson’s legacy, each room signified a different era of his professional career at FIU. 

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