REMEMBERING MARILYN JOAN ROBERTS
Marilyn Joan Roberts, and actress and one of the original performers in the Off-Off Broadway theater movement in New York City during the 1960s, passed away in January. Marilyn was born on October 30, 1939 in San Francisco. She studied acting and directing at San Francisco State University and received a B.A. in Drama. Her career was brilliant and varied. She was a three-time North American Roller Skating Champion and in 1983 was inducted into The Roller Skating Hall of Fame. After receiving her B.A., she studied acting with master teachers Eric Morris and Lee Strasberg in New York and was a member of the original La MaMa Troupe under the direction of Tom O’Horgan.
Marilyn’s TV and film appearances include a guest starring role in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” a featured role in the film “Looking For Mr. Goodbar,” as well as being featured in the film version of “Futz,” originally a groundbreaking Off-Off Broadway production. It later opened Off Broadway at the Theatre de Lys in 1968, with the original La MaMa Troupe under the direction of Tom O’Horgan (future director of “Hair” and “Jesus Christ Superstar”). The New York Times gave Futz the entire front page of the Sunday Arts and Leisure section: “FUTZ! FIASCO OR WAVE OF THE FUTURE?” Marilyn said, “Futz created a major stir and was my baptism by fire into the kind of theatre that would make my life meaningful and adventurous in the 60s and 70s.”
Her stage appearances were extensive and eclectic, from summer stock to London’s West End, spanning nearly four decades. She originated characters in plays by Robert Patrick, Sam Shepard, Leonard Melfi, Adrienne Kennedy, Paul Foster, Rochelle Owens, Robert Heide, and Artaud, among others. She was a winner of the 2017 Acker Award for Avant-Garde Excellence. She was an active member of Times Square Playwrights and a producer of “The Actors Archives” with interviews with, and photos of, members of The Original LaMama Troupe.
Marilyn’s archives are housed with the Rutgers University Alexander Library, Special Collections, the La MaMa Archives in New York City and the Magie Dominic / Caffe Cino Collection at NYPL for the Performing Arts in New York City. Her many friends and acquaintances send their condolences to her family. A memorial will be planned for a later date.
In a recently published interview with Dan Cohen about his candidacy for City Council in District 7, Cohen suggests that NYC has the economic capacity to set an example for robust climate change policy. While Cohen proposes broad-sweeping ideas about climate solutions, I’d like to ask him, and all current and prospective city and state assembly members, how about vocally supporting a specific community-driven plan, like the Climate Community Investment Act (CCIA)?
The CCIA is statewide legislation sponsored by NY Renews that has the best interests of the city’s and state’s front line communities in mind. With disturbing statistics, such as one stating that NYC’s emissions increased by more than 3% between 2017 and 2019, I have to wonder how NYC is creating an emulatable standard for climate policy and justice. The CCIA is a gateway to real change and it should be passed this year. I encourage all city Council and mayoral candidates to be clear about their stance on the CCIA.
As we eventually emerge from a pandemic that, if anything, showed us that the illness and economic instability does not affect everyone in the same ways, it’s time to hold corporate polluters accountable for a climate crisis that disproportionately impacts communities of color, especially low-income communities of color. This year will see some exciting legislative races; I’ll be watching out for the candidates who are vocal about supporting green jobs instead of jails, front line communities instead of Wall Street and the CCIA instead of worn-out climate change talking points.
Upper West Side