Award-winning play on its way

photo courtesy of Northern Arts and Cultural Centre Tayo Aluko wrote and performs in the one-person play Call Mr. Robeson, which will be visiting Hay River on Nov. 14.

photo courtesy of Northern Arts and Cultural Centre
Tayo Aluko wrote and performs in the one-person play Call Mr. Robeson, which will be visiting Hay River on Nov. 14.

An internationally-acclaimed play will be appearing in Hay River on Nov. 14.

Call Mr. Robeson is the creation of Tayo Aluko, who wrote and performs the one-person play, accompanied by a pianist.

Aluko is looking forward to his visit to Hay River and several other communities in the NWT, and believes it will be one of the highlights of his life.

“It was beyond my wildest dreams, growing up in Nigeria, that I could end up in a place like this, which I must confess I had never even located on the map,” he said in response to e-mailed questions from The Hub. “I consider it an absolute privilege to travel so far away from home to share an inspiring story.”

His play will be visiting Hay River as the fourth and last performance in the touring season of the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre (NACC).

“We are very pleased to come with the internationally-acclaimed play Call Mr. Robeson,” said Marie Coderre, the executive and artistic director of NACC.

Coderre said Aluko is an award-winning writer, performer and producer, now living in England but originally from Africa.

Call Mr. Robeson is about Paul Robeson, an American actor, singer and civil rights campaigner in the early 20th century.

“This play has been recognized all across the world from New Zealand to Europe to the United Sates,” said Coderre.

She said Robeson, the subject of the play, had to face racism and was even arrested and denied the opportunity to perform and travel because of his views.

“It’s part musical and it’s part theatre. It’s a fantastic show,” said Coderre. “When I saw it, I was just blown away. It’s one of the best plays that I’ve seen and it’s so well written and it’s so emotional but also so deep as a play. So people will be taken on a real dazzling journey.”

She saw the show in Vancouver in 2015.

Aluko said Call Mr. Robeson, which he described as a play with songs, tells the story of a singer and actor who decided to use his art as a political weapon.

“It is therefore an entertaining and educational play which is also political,” he explained.

Aluko also believes the story is relevant to people today.

“Paul Robeson came from a time when there was a lot of hate, distrust and injustice in the world, very much like now,” said Aluko. “He chose to use his art and his unique, formidable skills to spread knowledge, peace, love and harmony. I feel that they are reminded through his story how much we have within us to combat negativity with the gift of art.”

Call Mr. Robeson will be appearing at Riverview Cineplex.

In addition to Hay River, where the play will be performed first in the NWT, it will also be visiting Yellowknife, Norman Wells, Inuvik and Fort Simpson.

–Paul Bickford