Passionate Pursuit of Portrayal

30 Oct 2015, Posted by Founding Franklin in Get To Know Bill Robling
Passionate Pursuit of Portrayal

Passionate Pursuit of Portrayal

I have been interpreting the life of Benjamin Franklin for the past thirteen years. I am frequently asked why I engage in such a pursuit. Many questions that I am asked require careful thought in order to answer them, but not this one. The short answer is that I love it.

I entered the world of historical acting with over twenty-five years of experience. I love performing, although I suffer from fright before every appearance and performance; but being Benjamin Franklin takes that love and passion even further. I have always enjoyed history, have even taught it, but somehow presenting history in the life of a real person and being in the clothing that he would have worn has taken me beyond interest to consuming passion.

This is especially true for Benjamin Franklin. In order to do Dr. Franklin justice, I have immersed myself in his life and work. There are those people who impersonate Franklin and others, simply putting on some sort of costume and saying some relevant quotes which they have read. That, however, is not historical interpretation. Those of us who do this work passionately attempt to get inside our subjects. I call it acting from the inside out. I don’t want to just speak some Franklin-speak, but rather to speak and act from within. It can be a tricky business, and I don’t attempt to address current situations as Benjamin Franklin. I will, from time to time, ask someone to explain the current situation, and try to find a familiar thread. But we live in the eighteenth century, and that is our world.
There are all around us in Philadelphia people who dispense incorrect history. There is also a wealth of false information on the internet. When confronted with spurious information, I react passionately. History is our link to the past, and it is also our guide to the present and the future. If we are to learn its lessons, we must try to view it as it is, not how we would like it to be, or what makes a good story. Benjamin Franklin had major flaws, as did most of our founders, but please don’t spout at me about the “hundreds of illegitimate children” that you might have heard about. Gossip is not history, especially when you cannot find that gossip in the person’s own time. That is just an example, but there is a lot of bad information out there. I don’t just laugh it off, but rather I get really annoyed. I suppose that’s how I know I am passionate.

So, having the privilege of making a living doing something I love, and often doing it for no financial reward, that inspires passion. What I do is work, sometimes difficult work, but it is not a job. It is a passionate pursuit. I do believe that we are meant to work. I’ve had jobs, and I hated most of them. For some time now, I have had this wonderful work. I love work.








“Norbdad Oculus Auge 2” by digital cat from München, Bavaria – Die Skulptur – das rechte Auge – steht auf der linken Seite vor dem Nordbad in M�nchen-Schwabing. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons –

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