Theater at Monmouth’s 2017 Power, Passion and Privilege Season continues with “Red Velvet” by Lolita Chakrabarti. The production runs Thursday, July 28, through Aug. 17.

This production marks the Maine premiere of award-winning British playwright, Chakrabarti’s true-life story of Ira Aldridge, an African-American actor and the first black man to appear as Othello on the London stage. This uncompromising tale of a pioneering artist from the 1800s is fascinating, heartbreaking and immensely relevant today.

Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, 1833. Edmund Kean collapses on stage while playing Othello. A young black American actor is asked to take over the role. But as the public riot in the streets over the abolition of slavery, how will the cast, critics and audience react to the revolution taking place on stage?

The play is a fictional account of the events that took place in 1833 when Covent Garden theater manager, Pierre Laporte, selected Ira Aldridge, to assay the title role in place of Edmund Kean. The opportunity to play Othello was to be his big break. Aldridge, driven from America by discrimination and by the 1830s an established actor in England’s provincial theaters, would go on to great success across Europe but would never again tread the boards at Covent Gardens.

“Red Velvet” will feature Emery Lawrence as Casimir/Henry Forester; Meghan Leathers as Halina/Betty/Margaret Aldridge; James Noel Hoban as Terrence/Bernard Warde; Ryan Vincent Anderson as Ira Aldridge; Maggie Thompson as Connie; Travis Johnson as Charles Kean; Kelsey Burke as Ellen Tree; and Brad Wilson as Pierre Laporte. Set design by Daniel Bilodeau, costume design by Michelle Handley, sights by Matthew Adelson, sound by Rew Tippin.

Performances are set for 7:30 p.m. July 27, 28, Aug. 1 and 17; 1 p.m. July 29, Aug. 2; and 7 p.m. Aug. 13 with a post-show discussion.

In addition to a post-show discussion, there will be a classics in context discussion on the topic “Feminist Appropriations of Othello: Chakrabarti’s Red Velvet and the history of Shakespeare’s Othello in Performance” at 5:30 p.m. July 28, free with a ticket to the evening performance after the discussion. Panelists for the discussion include Professor Emerita at Bates College Cristina Malcolmson, as well as Jennifer Nelson, Director of Red Velvet.

Tickets cost $32 for adults, $28 for senior citizens, and $20 for students (18 and younger). Group discounts are available.

For more information, call 933-9999 or visit theateratmonmouth.org.

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