Monthly Archives: February 2016

11 02, 2016

A Life With Songs – Call Mr Robeson


Sunday 20th March at 7.30pm, Grange Hall, R-on-T

Call Mr Robeson – A Life With Songs

From playing New York’s Carnegie Hall to Grange Hall Radcliffe, Paul Robeson’s life and times are splendidly brought to life with a bravura performance from actor-singer Tayo Aluku, currently on national tour.
‘Call Mr Robeson’ is an international, multi-award winning production and a night to remember in words and music.
Robeson, perhaps most famous to millions as a bass singer whose many global hits include ‘Ole Man River’ was one of the 20th century’s first black civil rights campaigners.
Trained as a lawyer, one of only three black students at his university, he was also an athlete and actor. He starred in classical roles from Shakespeare’s Othello to key 20th century dramas, and played lead characters in musical theatre productions.
When over the years he became too radical and uncomfortably outspoken for America’s white establishment, he was branded a traitor and a ‘communist’ the ultimate insult during the darkest period of 20th century USA politics.
He joined many of the best actors, playwrights, authors and commentators of the time, all accused, blacklisted and labelled ‘un-American’ for their liberal views during the 1950’s McCarthy show trials period.
Thereafter he was damned by the media, denied opportunities to perform and travel, physically and mentally threatened and ultimately ‘dis-remembered.’
Tayo Aluko’s performance shows the man in his many roles and how he survived his roller coaster of a life.

Suitable for aged 12+

A’ Live & Local’ touring scheme production sponsored by Arts Council England, Notts County Council & Rushcliffe Borough Council.

Review by Martin Culshaw

On the face of it, this performance by Tayo Aluko seemed likely to be a fairly ‘light’ presentation of the life and times of Paul Robeson, interspersed with some of his songs. Being somewhat younger than the late singer, I was unaware of the depth and leaning of his politics and the range of his talents as a lawyer, American footballer and straight actor, as well as a singer. But I was most ignorant of the way in which white American politicians treated him and made him one of the victims of the dreadful McCarthyite period in the 1940s and ‘50s. At a time when immigrants to Britain are starting to be vilified as the Syrian war drags on and the EU referendum debate intensifies, it was good to be reminded of how not to treat people who are ‘different.’
After a slightly slow start Tayo put on a great one-man show that gradually ramped up the horrors to which Robeson was subjected while recognising some of his weaknesses. The show included both some of Robeson’s well known songs and lesser known ones for which … … provided excellent piano accompaniment. At the end of the show Tayo took part in a lively question and answer session that, unsurprisingly, focussed on whether racial awareness in the USA had improved since Robeson’s time.
A thought-provoking and excellently performed show.

A Life With Songs – Call Mr Robeson2019-02-17T16:52:58+00:00