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Actor launches funding bid to take plays to Edinburgh Fringe

STAR MAN: Actor and playwright Tayo Aluko in his role as Nigerian lawyer Tunji Sowande

NIGERIAN SINGING star, actor and playwright Tayo Aluko, has launched a £8,000 crowd funding campaign to support his plans to bring two shows to the world renowned Edinburgh Fringe Festival next month.

The productions include Call Mr Robeson, his internationally-acclaimed show about Paul Robeson, and a new play, Just An Ordinary Lawyer, about Nigerian Tunji Sowande, Britain’s first black judge.

As with Call Mr. Robeson, the new play combines entertainment with history and politics, and Aluko is hoping it will generate the same rave reviews Call Mr Robeson received.

It was at Edinburgh where someone who saw the show was later instrumental in getting it staged at New York’s Carnegie Hall two years later - on Aluko’s 50th birthday. “So, I return to Edinburgh this year with Fringe big dreams for Lawyer and Robeson as you never know where it might lead,” he said.

Akulo, who is based in Liverpool, explained why he’s turning to the public to help raise the cash: “I am an actor, singer and playwright. In 2007 I took my first ever play to the Edinburgh Fringe. That was Call Mr Robeson and nine years later I’m still performing it around the UK. I’ve also been with it to Australia, New Zealand, America, Canada, Jamaica, and, I’m very proud to say, Nigeria a few times.

“Now I’ve got a new play about a Nigerian telling story about world issues, particularly black liberation struggles.

He mentions the antiapartheid struggles, civil war in Nigeria, war in other parts of Africa, and civil rights struggles in America and so on. I’m very excited and ready to take it to Edinburgh, along with Call Robeson. The Edinburgh Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world, is seen as a huge performing arts market, as in addition to literally hundreds of thousands of ordinary arts loving revellers, thousands of producers, directors, funders, agents and absolutely everybody in the arts go there in search of new work and new talent."

Akulo, whose crowdfunding campaign has so far raised £1,080, added: “People go to Edinburgh every year and lose a lot of money. I’m not expecting to make money, but I’m hoping for support to help cushion the blows.

“I’ll be performing plays for the entire run of the festival, and the space rental alone is £4,000! I am also raising money to pay the director and designer’s fees, for publicity, accommodation and many things. But the total budget is £10,000; £8,000 of which I intend to raise through crowd funding."

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