Words by Ed King / Lead pic courtesy of REP, rehearsal pic by Helen Maybanks
On Friday 10th March, One Love: The Bob Marley Musical opens at the Birmingham REP, running daily (except Sundays) until Saturday 15th April. Matinee performances will be held on Thursdays and Saturdays at 4pm.
The following assisted shows will also be held: Audio Described on Saturday 1st April at 4pm, Captioned on Wednesday 5th April at 7:30pm, British Sign Language Interpreted on Friday 7th April at 7:30pm.
Standard tickets start from £15, with preview tickets available at £10 for shows from Friday 10th to Tuesday 14th March. For direct event information, including venue details and online ticket sales, click here.
One Love: The Bob Marley Musical is written/directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah and produced by the Birmingham Rep – in association with Playful Productions and Stage Play Limited. For a full list of cast and crew, click here.
Originally titled Marley, this is the second stage outing for a Bob Marley musical from Kwame Kwei-Armah – the first being run at the Centre Stage theatre in Boston where Kwei-Armah is the artistic director. Holding its UK première at the Birmingham REP, One Love: The Bob Marley Musical will most likely go on to tour the wider UK – although at the time of writing Birmingham Review can’t confirm any future dates after the REP run.
Taking place ‘across a dramatic period in the music legend’s life’, One Love ‘tells the story of a man propelled from rising reggae star to global icon’. But the name and cast list suggest the narrative will pivot on the One Love Peace concert hosted by Bob Marley in Kingston in 1978, where Marley reportedly joined the hands (literally) of warring Jamaican politicians (literally again) Michael Manley (PNP) and Edward Seaga (JLP) live on stage.
Two years earlier Bob Marley, his wife Rita, and manager Don Taylor had been shot for their involvement in the Smile Jamaica concert, as gunmen attacked the Tuff Gong home and studio on Hope Road. Many believe Bob Marley and the Wailers had become targets for the CIA supported JLP after the date of the election had been moved to coincide with the arguably pro-PNP concert; the north america based intelligence agency has a track record of aggressive electioneering in central and south america.
Then there’s the music…
It’s hard to find an artist who has crossed more boundaries of style, culture, race and class as Bob Marley, bringing an accessible message of peace and unity to a Benetton commercial audience across the world.
Most of us know this, having grown up surrounded by poster-after-badge-after-t-shirt-after-compilation, but the numbers behind the icon give an almost bewildering context: 13 studio albums in 18 years with over 75 million records sold before his death (Bob Marley and the Wailers hit over 21million in one decade of posthumous sales). Bob Marley has received awards from Rolling Stone to the United Nations, with one of most plaque or stars you can get featuring his name. And here’s another number, Bob Marley was only 36 when he died.
Not the be all and end all of reggae by any stretch – with members of The Wailers, Marley’s production team and the Island Record entourage being arguably as, if not more, pioneering – Bob Marley represented a moment in time. And despite his colonial bloodline, with extended self exiles in both America and the UK, Bob Marley was a force of recognition for the struggles of Jamaica, the African Diaspora and people worldwide who were suffering or forgotten.
In both life and death, Bob Marley has stood as an icon for hope and the continued hope of freedom itself. And from redbrick University walls to the back room of an Aston blues party, this message continues to travel. ‘Won’t you help to sing…?’
Check out Kwame Kwei-Armah talking about One Love: The Bob Marley Musical below:
One Love: The Bob Marley Musical opens at Birmingham REP on Friday 10th March running daily (except Sundays) until Saturday 15th April. For direct event info and online tickets sales, click here.
For more on Kwame Kwei-Armah, visit www.unitedagents.co.uk/kwame-kwei-armah
For more from Birmingham REP, including full event listing and online ticket sales, visit www.birmingham-rep.co.uk