In the 1800s, the idea of a black man performing Shakespeare on stage was unthinkable. The Bard represented the highest form of art at the time and one only whites were privileged to interpret.
When an African American actor came to London to star in a production of “Othello” in 1825, his presence shocked audiences, to be sure, but also cracked open the door to theater for generations of black actors to come.
A production of a play about the life of Ira Aldridge will be presented at Ohio State in February. Directed by Ted Lange of television’s “Love Boat” fame, “Red Velvet” tells the story of Aldridge’s star-making role.
Today on All Sides: black representation in theater from “Othello” to “Hamilton.”
- Ted Lange, actor, playwright and director
- Chris Jones, journalist, author and chief theater critic, The Chicago Tribune
- Kelundra Smith, arts journalist and theater critic, chair of the diversity and inclusion committee for the American Theatre Critics Association
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