Being Ben Franklin

04 Sep 2015, Posted by Founding Franklin in Get To Know Bill Robling

Being Ben Franklin

“Aren’t you dead?” “You’re not Benjamin Franklin. You’re lying!” These are a couple of the comments that I get, mostly from children, but not always. But I also get, “Wow, you look just like him.” And, “Thank you. This is such a great way to educate, and more interesting than a book or a classroom.”
People ask me why I put on a costume and become Franklin, and some people, children and grownups, never do understand what we call first-person interpretation. The same people don’t question why Johnny Depp puts on a pirate costume and becomes Jack Sparrow, or why Patrick Stewart becomes Macbeth. It’s acting, folks. I think people are so accustomed to mascots (yes, we hate mascots) who just show up in a funny suit and mime that they often put me in that category.

Don’t think mascot, people, think actor.

And so the comments that I get walking down the street are frequently humorous. Alright, occasionally just stupid, but often funny. “Did you come from a time machine?” “Where’s your kite?” Yes, I do get tired of the same old comments, but I think people just feel like they should say something, and this is the first thing that pops into their heads.

Occasionally, though, and this always makes my day, I get a question about serious history, and I get a chance to be Bill Robling the teacher.

My business card says “Actor, entertainer, educator”, and I am all that. It is the best job in the world. I am doing what I love to do, and making a living at it. As my now father-in-law said after I met the woman who would become my wife, “From this he makes a living?” OK, my response was, “Define a living.” But being Benjamin Franklin is fun, passionate, and fulfilling. Is that what work should be?

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