One man and a life in song
An award-winning play about African American singer, actor and civil rights activist Paul Robeson, is to be performed at the Ace Centre, Nelson, next week.
“Call Mr Robeson – A Life With Songs” is a moving one-man play written and performed by Tayo Aluko.
An elderly Robeson looks back at the trajectory of his life – a superstar singing career, academic and intellectual achievements and his love of humanity and justice.
Tayo Aluko was born in Nigeria and now lives in Liverpool.
He worked previously as an architect and property developer, with a special, but as yet frustrated, interest in eco-friendly construction.
He has fronted orchestras as baritone soloist in concert halls and has also performed lead roles in well-known operas and musicals.
Robeson, as Aluko shows, enjoyed a rapid ascent to the top in the 1920s and 1930s: not merely for his remarkable singing voice, but for his stage performances in Showboat, The Emperor Jones and Othello.
But, as a trained lawyer and pastor’s son with an in-built sense of injustice, Robeson became an increasingly vocal critic of racial and class discrimination.
It was, however, his endorsement of the Soviet Union that ultimately wrecked his career in the US.
One particular speech he made in Paris in 1949 was deemed unpatriotic and thereafter Robeson had to endure years of public abuse, passport loss and cancelled bookings before his health finally broke.
“Call Mr Robeson” has won numerous awards at festivals in the UK and Canada, as well as critical acclaim in the press.
At 7.30pm on Wednesday, the play will be staged at the Ace. This is the only performance being brought to East Lancashire by “Love Music Hate Racism” group to mark Black History Month.
Sponsored by the National Union of Teachers in Burnley and Pendle, tickets are available at £7 (full price) and £5 (concessions).
Block bookings from schools, colleges and youth groups can be made at a price of £4 per head for groups of 10 or more.
For tickets, call the ACE on 661080, log on to www.acecentre.co.uk or call the Red Triangle Cafe on 832319 or mobile: 07762 192716.