This compelling and award-winning one-man (and pianist) show pays tribute to the dramatic life and songs of the legendary black American actor, singer and civil rights activist Paul Robeson. A remarkable and moving piece of musical-theatre: high quality drama, first class singing. ???? 'First-rate… an admirable introduction to a great pioneering performer.' The Guardian 'Moving… perfect… fascinating… intense.' Yorkshire Post ______________________________________________________________________ A fulsome tribute not only to Paul Robeson's art but to his contribution to the civil rights movement. Half a century ago, Paul Robeson was a household name: as singer, actor and activist alike, he was a cultural giant who bestrode his world. Yet his later life turned tragic and he died in near obscurity; today, it seems that a younger generation has scarcely heard of him. To most, Robeson is inextricably associated with the song 'Ol' Man River' from Jerome Kern's 'Showboat' – the first musical to tackle themes as serious as racism and miscegenation in the Deep South. The role of Joe, a barge worker by the Mississippi, was written for him; he starred in the show in London in 1928, taking the city by storm. His deep bass timbre, the eloquent power of his projection and the all-embracing humanity of his booming tone were captured in the 1936 film adaptation and make an unforgettable impression. His prowess as an actor went equally far; not least, he played Othello with the young Peggy Ashcroft as Desdemona in 1930. When he took the role to Broadway some years later, it ran for nearly 300 performances, the longest-running Shakespeare in Broadway history. Critics lauded him as an 'artistic and social genius' (Theodore Dreiser) and 'gifted by the gods as musician and actor' (Walter Damrosch). But perhaps Robeson's greatest legacy is as civil rights activist – one victimised by his own country for his socialist leanings, McCarthyism shattering his career in the 1950s. In a white man's world during the Cold War, Robeson was considered a double danger: both black and red. Paul was blacklisted and all doors for work closed against him; furthermore, his passport was revoked, leaving him unable to travel and his income reduced to a trickle. His voice was known and loved all over the world; he had done nothing illegal; he was never arrested, or put on trial; yet the powers that be were determined to destroy him nonetheless for his political beliefs. The reclusive Robeson died in Philadelphia aged 77. Unable to attend Carnegie Hall's tribute concert on his 75th birthday, he sent a recorded message, declaring: 'I want you to know that I am the same Paul, dedicated as ever to the worldwide cause of humanity for freedom, peace and brotherhood.' Robeson's story shows us that one can never be too aware. British filmmaker Steve McQueen ('12 Years A Slave') is to direct a forthcoming biopic about Paul Robeson. Tayo Aluko is a Nigerian based in Liverpool, England. He has appeared as guest soloist with a number of orchestras, music societies, choirs and brass bands in the UK, Germany, Ireland and Nigeria and performed lead roles in various operas and stage musicals including 'Nabucco', 'Kiss Me Kate' and 'Anything Goes'. Tayo is also a writer, and has contributed articles to The Guardian and The North West Enquirer. ______________________________________________________________________ 'Quietly compelling.' The Stage
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