Tayo Aluko: Call Mr. RobesonMonday, November 12, 2018 @ 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Paul Robeson is a great and famous actor, singer and civil rights campaigner. When over the years he gets progressively too radical and outspoken for the establishment’s liking, he is branded a traitor to his country, harassed, and denied opportunities to perform or travel.
Just as physical, emotional and mental stress threaten to push him over the fine line between genius and madness, he is summoned to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee, to give the most difficult and important performance of his career.
This roller-coaster journey through Robeson’s remarkable and eventful life highlights how his pioneering and heroic (but largely forgotten) political activism led many to describe him as the forerunner of the civil rights movement. It features much fiery oratory and some of his famous songs, including a dramatic rendition of Ol’ Man River.
Nigerian-born Tayo Aluko is based in Liverpool, UK. With his one-man play CALL MR. ROBESON, he won the coveted Fringe Review Outstanding Theatre Award at the Brighton Festival Fringe in June 2016. He also won the Best Actor, Best Original Work and Impresario awards at the London Fringe in Ontario, Canada in Summer 2012; the Best Solo Show at the Stratford Fringe in June 2013 and the award for Best Musical Performance at the Atlantic Fringe in Halifax, Nova Scotia in September 2013. He sold out all his eighteen performances at the New Zealand and Adelaide Fringes in 2015. The play has also been performed on a number of occasions in Nigeria and Jamaica, to great acclaim, and also at New York’s Carnegie Hall in February 2012.
As a baritone, he won a Gold Medal at the Grand Festival of Festivals held in commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the British Federation of Festivals, in competition with singers and instrumentalists from all over the UK. He appeared as soloist at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, accompanied by the Hallé Orchestra, and has also performed lead roles in various operas and stage musicals including Nabucco, Kiss Me Kate and Anything Goes. Oratorio roles have included Faure’s Requiem, Brahms Requiem, Samson, C Minor Mass, Carmina Burana, Elijah and The Messiah.
Tayo researched, wrote and narrated to camera a film on the history of West Africa before the TransAtlantic Slave Trade, which forms part of the permanent exhibit at the National Museum Liverpool’s International Slavery Museum. Published writings include articles for the UK’s The Guardian, Morning Star, NERVE Magazine, Liverpool Daily Post and Echo; North West Chronicle; Punch and ThisDay Newpapers in Nigeria, and modernghana.com. He has also written and performed a lecture-cum-concert titled FROM BLACK AFRICA TO THE WHITE HOUSE, which deals with African History, and particularly Black Resistance to White domination, illustrating it with live renditions of Black Spirituals. This has also been performed on three continents.
With The Maltings Theatre, Berwick-upon-Tweed, he developed a new piece titled WHAT HAPPENS? featuring the writings of African American Langston Hughes (with songs from the era), performed to live jazz accompaniment. In October 2013 he produced the inaugural Paul Robeson Art Is A Weapon Festival in Covent Garden, London, which featured speakers and performers from as far afield as South Africa and Canada. He also arranged a tour of England for another US-based portraying Dr. King and Nelson Mandela in October 2014.
As writer-on- attachment with the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse theatres, he developed a new play titled JUST AN ORDINARY LAWYER which premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2016, received its international premiere in Victoria, Canada in February 2017 and is scheduled for performances in Lagos, Nigeria in June and September 2017, and was one of the mainstage performances at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston Salem, North Carolina in August 2017.
Dr. Alton L. Merrell is a pianist, educator, music director, and music producer. From Youngstown State University, Alton earned a Bachelor of Music in Music Education and Classical Piano Performance graduating Cum Laude, and a Master of Music in Jazz Piano performance. From the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Merrell received his Ph.D. in Jazz Studies with a research focus on jazz piano performance and pedagogy.