Paul Robeson: A Chautauqua
This Chautauqua or living history will cover the life of Paul Robeson.
Paul Robeson (1898-1976)
Singer, Actor, Athlete, Scholar, Social Activist … Paul Robeson was all these things,
A man of deep conviction and extraordinary complexity, Paul came of age during one of the more difficult periods in American history.
Born in Princeton, New Jersey and raised by his father, the Rev. William Drew Robeson (his mother, Maria Louisa died when Paul was six years old), and by numerous members of Princeton’s African-American community, Paul grew to become an outstanding scholar-athlete in both high school and college. After graduating from Rutgers College in 1919, Paul went to Columbia Law school where he earned his degree in 1923. Paul married Eslanda Cardozo Goode while in law school and it was she who helped guide him into a career as an actor and singer. For over 25 years, Paul was known as one of the great artists of his generation.
Between 1927-1939, Paul lived in London, England and it was there that he became totally politicized. He became an uncompromising fighter, for civil and human rights at home and abroad and for friendship with the Soviet Union. It was these activities that led the U.S. government to nearly destroy him during the 1950’s
About the performer:
Marvin Jefferson has an extensive background as a professional actor and between 1997 and 2009 he has performed a Chautauqua (first person characterization of a historical figure) of the life of Paul Robeson as singer, athlete, scholar and social activist for the Newark school district, performing in every school in the district. He prepared for his portrayal of Paul Robeson by attending, in the summer of 1997, the Annual Great Plains Chautauqua in West Fargo, North Dakota. Between 2005 – 2010 he appeared as Robeson in the Colorado, Maryland, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina and North Carolina Chautauqua festivals. He taught for the summer programs at Essex County College, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, the Franklin Township Department of Social Services and the Newark School of Arts. He currently teaches acting at Bloomfield College. Between 1981 and 1996 he was the producer/artistic director of the Ensemble Theatre Company (ETC), a professional Newark, NJ based acting company that he co-founded. In addition to directing and producing plays, he has received critical acclaim for performances as an actor in the ETC productions of Uncle Tom’s Children, Kabnis and Sizwe Bansi is Dead; the Crossroads Theatre Company productions of Roads of the Mountaintop, To Gleam it Around, To Show My Shine and Playboy of the West Indies; and the George Street Playhouse production of The Meeting. He has also appeared in various productions throughout New York City including an Off-Off Broadway theatrical version of Paul Robeson, A Chautauqua at Urban Stages theatre company. Marvin studied acting at the Mason Gross School of Arts, Rutgers University.
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