Sunday, 5 February 2012

Q-&-A: Talking with Nigerian singer-actor Tayo Aluko

MAN FOR ALL SEASONS: Aluko, following his recent Kingston performance.

Following a performance of his award-winning one-man show, Call Mr. Robeson (based on the life of the iconic actor and activist Paul Robeson) on Saturday at the Edna Manley College, TALLAWAH chatted briefly with Tayo Aluko about breathing life into the great man’s life story, why Robeson’s age-old message retains such power, and thoughts on an upcoming personal milestone.

TALLAWAH: Tell me about the experience of bringing this show to life, performance after performance.
Aluko: The most exciting part is actually meeting people and knowing that the story is inspiring to them. I enjoy seeing them learn about Paul Robeson, learning the truth about him, learning his bravery and just being inspired by it. Also, teaching his message of peace and love, and the fact that he was a civil-rights campaigner 20, 30 years before Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.

How relevant is Robeson’s message to the new generation?
It’s absolutely relevant. What he was preaching was that people should have equal access to resources, medical care, food and so on. People are suffering the exact same thing these days.

Next week you turn 50. How do you plan to celebrate?
I am performing the show on my birthday at Carnegie Hall. It’s like my expensive birthday present to myself.

What’s most special to you about such a personal milestone?
Well, I’ve been looking forward to it for a while. I’ve had this idea that I want to do something special for my birthday, and I’ve been looking forward to it. And I also look forward to performing this for another ten years quite happily.

What’s next for you?
I have some ideas of other plays to write, but I want to franchise this one, and get other people to perform it around the world. That’s the idea.

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