Written by Lolita Chakrabarti
Directed by Margo Hall
“One of the best Bay Area productions of the year” – North Bay Bohemian
“A fascinating slice of theatrical history … thoughtful, sincere and commanding.” – Examiner.com
“A smart and involving historical drama … Lumbly, ideally cast as Aldridge, both enlarges the mystery and threatens to blow it apart.” – San Francisco Chronicle
“Lumbly gives an amazing performance in Lolita Chakrabarti’s backstage drama” – KQED
London, 1833. No black man has ever starred on a London stage—not even as Othello—until tonight. Ira Aldridge, a young black American, breaks more than the color barrier as he battles the entrenched social and theatrical norms of his day, going on to become a living legend, lauded from the footlights of Stratford to the halls of Saint Petersburg.
San Francisco Playhouse’s production of Red Velvet is made possible by Producers Brittny Bottorff, Betty Hoener, David & Colleen Leof, Buffy & George Miller, and Associate Producers Steven & Karin Chase, Ellen & Bruce Hall, Jeannie Kaufman, and Marcy Taylor Pattinson.
Ira Aldridge (Carl Lumbly*) arrives at the Covent Garden theatre to become the first black man to play Othello on a British stage.
Ira Aldridge (Carl Lumbly*, left), meets Covent Garden theatre company members Pierre LaPorte (Patrick Russell*) and Henry Forester (Devin O’Brien) after arriving to play the role of Othello.
Ellen Tree (Susi Damilano*) plays Desdemona in a Covent Garden theatre production of “Othello” in 1833.
Ira Aldridge (Carl Lumbly*) and Ellen Tree (Susi Damilano*) perform as Othello and Desdemona at the Covent Garden theatre.
Company members at Covent Garden react to the reviews of their production of“Othello.” Pictured from left: Richard Louis James, Devin O’Brien, Tim Kniffin*, Susi Damilano*.
Ira Aldridge (Carl Lumbly*, right) discusses his opening night performance with a servant, Connie (Britney Frazier*) after becoming the first black actor to play Othello on a British stage
Ira Aldridge (Carl Lumbly*) reflects on becoming the first black actor to play Othello on a British stage in an interview with reporter Halina Wozniak (Elena Wright*).
The cast of Red Velvet.
*Member of AEA. Photos by Ken Levin