Black & Abroad Conversations: Royce Bable

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Royce Bable

One man's trip turned into a one-man show. 

Here at Black & Abroad, we work to ensure that our mission concedes simple brand recognition.

Often along the way, we encounter other like-minded individuals that have successfully mastered the space beyond their anticipated approach to empower the diaspora.

These are the influencers, visionaries, and tastemakers that have managed to successfully employ their own blueprints to create a better world for us tomorrow.

Throughout this series, we will present to you a hand-picked line-up of black-owned & operated brands and individuals that deserve your consideration.

That deserve your support.

That deserve your attention. 

Welcome to the Black & Abroad Conversation Series.

Enter Royce Bable.

Tired of the monotony of NYC corporate life, Royce Bable (pronounced like "table") traded in his promising media research career for a one-way ticket to Southeast Asia. An Atlanta native, Royce has always been actively involved in arts, media and culture. He’s a proud graduate of the Tri-Cities High School Visual and Performing Arts Magnet Program, (alma mater of Atlanta legends, OutKast, Kandi Burruss, and Kenan Thompson). He later attended Howard University and spent his summers in San Francisco interning at Google before hopping around to LA, Chicago, and New York working with Nielsen. 

Realizing that it was time for transition, Royce dropped everything and backpacked across eight different countries (Bali, Budapest, Israel, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore, and Laos) for 4 ½ months and made tons of memories along the way. Instead of creating a blog or Instagram page to document his adventure, Royce tapped into his theatre background to create Not Here Right Now, an immersive live show, using creative storytelling and mixed media to showcase his inspiring journey from corporate citizen to world traveler.

In his live one-man show, Royce brings you on his adventure toward self-discovery. During Not Here Right Now, the audience members are treated to stories and experiences of Royce’s inspiring journey from corporate citizen to world traveler. 

With the idea set, Royce went on Kickstarter to source funding to bring the story to life. The team set out to raise $10k and surpassed their goal by 20% with backing of 165 people.  In a time where the theatre world is vying for the attention of a younger generation, Not Here Right Now, targets millennials head-on; written by a millennial for millennials.

Royce describes the show as equal parts standup comedy, TED Talk and improv theater, and he aims to inspire the audience to take meaningful and fulfilling risks to achieve happiness.

We had the chance to sit down with Royce to dig deeper into the story behind Not Here Right Now, and his experiences as a black man in Southeast Asia. Check out our interview below!

Most choose to document their travels with a blog or a YouTube channel.  What made you decide to do a one-man show to share your travel experiences?

This is very true. Before I left for my trip I sat with a mentor of mine in his beautiful office in midtown Manhattan where he urged me to share my experiences some way -- book...a blog...meh...neither one was really my medium of choice at the moment.  I was looking around, seeing all of the comforts of corporate life that I was giving up...the cushy job, the secretary, the corporate credit card (that was a tough one) and I knew that if I was giving all of this up that I had to go big or it would just be another “Instagram moment.”

I was heavily involved in performing arts in Atlanta pre-college, and then my life took a business-ey turn, and I had been dying to get back on stage some non-traditional way. I kept a photo blog during my trip (ashyfeet.tumblr.com) but the live one-man show idea just hit me during a hike in northern Thailand and I saw it as my chance to get back in the arts world. All of these insane stories that deserve more than just a picture. I started journaling ferociously so I could remember everything.

When I got back to the states, all of my friends wanted to sit down and talk about the trip. To avoid a ton of coffee sessions retelling the same, albeit hilarious, stories, I just told people to wait for the show and they would hear them all in their true glory. Hence Not Here Right Now!

The journey that Not Here Right Now is based on took place a couple of years ago.  What’s it like to relive those memories now as you perform?

Absolute insanity. Before I even had the script for the show, I had to take all the entries from my journal and turn them into an outline of the key moments. From that outline, I sat with my team and told them the stories live and we would record them. From there, I transcribed the story as I told it because when I told them orally they were the most authentic and funny.

Every time I tell the stories, I discover some new detail to point out -- some hilarious reaction to explain. It’s exciting! I’m also super thankful that I made it without any major hiccups because I’m quite forgetful and I got into some pretty precarious situations. Most of which you’ll hear about in the show.

The world needs to see us (black men) just as much as we need to see it.
— Royce

Very often, we see articles that feature someone’s story about quitting their job to travel world.  As someone who’s done it, what’s it really like? What kind of planning (if any) did you do beforehand?  Is there anything you’d do differently if given the chance?

It’s a lot to think about if you do it the way that I did. I worked backwards after I purchased my ticket about seven months before I left. You don’t realize how much stuff you have connecting you to mainstream society until you have to cut things off! I had to suspend my student loans, transfer my 401K to an IRA, find a replacement for my apartment, make sure bills were in order, change my mailing address.

As for planning the trip, I had a few key checkpoints that I knew that I needed to hit. A part of my friend group in New York are from Bangkok, Thailand so they helped me make some loose plans. The most concrete plans were to be in Bangkok for Christmas, Vietnam for Tet (Chinese New Year) and back to Bangkok again in March for this insane celebrity wedding. I knew the cities that I wanted to hit but everything else I kinda of planned on the fly. It also doesn’t hurt that traveling through Asia is super cheap so sometimes I was deciding my next move the night before.

The only thing that I wouldn’t done differently is saved a bit more money on the front end of the trip. I borrowed a little from my 401K and got hit with that annoying penalty. But I saw this trip as a major investment in my future so it was definitely worth it. I’ve never told anyone that before and it feels good to say that now.

 Royce on his 4 1/2 month journey through S.E. Asia

Royce on his 4 1/2 month journey through S.E. Asia

 Snorkeling in Bali

Snorkeling in Bali

How did your family & friends react to your decision to leave your “good job” to travel the world?

I had been warming them up to the idea of me doing some traveling since I went on a vacation to Colombia, South America the year before I left. It was such a liberating journey and I wanted more than just the vacation experience.  I spent my college summers in San Francisco with Google and during the year my curriculum wouldn’t allow for study abroad, I felt like I was cheated out of my chance to live in another country and really explore the culture. They could tell that this trip was essential to my happiness.  Naturally, they had some questions about what this would mean for me financially but as it got closer they warmed up to the idea more.

...black millennial men have more adventure inside of them than people realize.
— Royce

Did your perception of what it means to be defined as "African-American" change at all during your travels?

“Why does your country hate you?”

I was asked this question while traveling and I didn’t have a response. My European friends were quite interested in my experience as an African-American - especially given some of their countries’ public history with racism.  These conversations were especially relevant because I was traveling when there was a public outcry as a result of the shootings of countless unarmed African-Americans in across the US. I found myself doing a bit of education with my European friends as we learned from each other.

In Southeast Asian company, once they figured out that I was American, and not African or British, they defined me as an American-- not African-American. I think is primarily because they aren’t too familiar with the intricacies of the diaspora of Africans in the United States. Because I had good ole’ fashioned American dollars and a US passport I was an American.

Due to this, I found that being defined as an African-American in the United States can hold more of a negative stigma being defined as an African-American traveling in Southeast Asia where I was another traveler from America that happened to be black. Just a black American man without the baggage. It was quite refreshing.

The notion of self-care is on the rise for black men (i.e., “Black Boy Joy”).  Do you think seeing the world is an avenue most men in the black community overlook as a means for mental balance? Why?  How does NHRN expose an untold story for black millennial men?

Absolutely. Among the many things that I learned while traveling is that the world needs to see us (black men) just as much as we need to see it. There are too many people telling our narrative without us in the room. This overall experience was essential to my mental clarity and is usually something that we as black community don’t even consider as a means to figuring things out. Grad school, a new job, or a quick trip to (insert beachy destination here) aren’t the only ways to figuring things out when you’re in a rut.

Think about it this way: After middle school there is high school, after high school there is college. After college there is work. When do you ever get the time to actually stop and focus on yourself without any other planned milestones taking your attention away? To me, that privilege is true freedom.

Not Here Right Now exposes the fact that black millennial men have more adventure inside of them than people realize. We’ve got the global juice.

Is there any place you’d never want to visit again, why?

Nope! Everywhere deserves a second visit.

What do you want people to walk away with after seeing Not Here Right Now?

Everyone’s journey may not manifest in the way mine did but we all come to a moment where we have to make some tough decisions. I’m not telling everyone to quit their job and go to Asia..because let’s be real. We are encouraging audiences to take meaningful and exciting risks to achieve happiness. Whatever that may be for you.  Also that there is a big difference between traveling and vacation.

I also want them to walk away with a new set of abs...because the show is really funny.

One thing: Thanks to the team that is helping me put this on! Everyone is an amazing artist and I’m so fortunate to have such a great group of folks on my side.

 Exploring Ankgor Wat in Cambodia

Exploring Ankgor Wat in Cambodia

And finally, what’s on your travel (music) playlist?

Love this. It’s such a mix depending on the country. But I usually try and make a mix for a country road trip so I’m not too hype or too sleepy….but just in my thoughts.  My music taste ranges so drastically.

A bunch of Fleetwod Mac, NAO, Sampha, Solange, The XX, JONES, SG Lewis, Childish Gambino, Chet Faker, Chris Stapleton, and Stevie Wonder.

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Not Here Right Now premieres on Saturday, July 1st at Synchronicity Theatre in Atlanta

Learn more about Not Here Right Now and purchase tickets at nothererightnowshow.com.

Find Not Here Right Now on Instagram//Facebook.

Find Royce on Instagram: @bableliketable

Check out the trailer for Not Here Right Now below!