NEW ORLEANS (press release) – Next week, Jefferson Performing Arts Society presents a one-man show about the life of the great African-American bass-baritone, scholar, actor, and athlete Paul Robeson. The show is offered for two performances only on Saturday, Jan. 23, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 24, at 2:00 p.m. at the Jefferson Performing Arts Center at 6400 Airline Drive in Metairie.
Making its New Orleans premiere, The World is My Home: The Life of Paul Robeson is written by Los Angeles actor and playwright Stogie Kenyatta, who portrays 12 characters in this tour de force solo show. The remarkable genius of Robeson comes to life as Kenyatta takes audiences on an energetic journey of Robeson’s accomplishments as Broadway bass-baritone, actor, orator, athlete, lawyer, author, scholar, activist and linguist, set to a soundtrack of jazz, be-bop, big band, and gospel.
Born in 1898, Paul Robeson grew up in Princeton, New Jersey. His father had escaped slavery and became a Presbyterian minister; his mother came from a notable Philadelphia family. At seventeen, he was awarded a scholarship to Rutgers University, where he received twelve major letters in four years and was class valedictorian. He then attended Columbia University Law School, and upon graduation, took a job with a New York law firm. Racism within the firm ended Robeson’s law career, but he found other outlets for his many exceptional talents.
Throughout the late 1920s and 1930s, Robeson was a celebrated actor and singer, made famous by his role as Joe in the musical Show Boat, featuring the famous song “Ol’ Man River. His Othello was the longest-running Shakespeare play in Broadway history and is considered one of the greatest American Shakespeare productions.
At the height of his popularity, Robeson was a national symbol and a leader in the war against fascism abroad and racism at home. He became friends with many well-known personalities, including Eleanor Roosevelt, W.E.B. Du Bois, Joe Louis, Pablo Neruda, Lena Horne, and many others influential in politics and the arts.
To this day, Paul Robeson’s many accomplishments are still unknown to many Americans, especially regarding his role in the history of civil rights and as an international spokesperson for human rights. More than a hundred years after his birth, Paul Robeson remains a symbol for the dignity and the rights of all people, everywhere.
We hope you will join us for this two-day only presentation. For more information and tickets visit www.jpas.org.