Actor James Vincent Meredith, and director/educators Henry Godinez of Northwestern University and Susan Padveen of Columbia College will appear following performances of the play detailing the story of Ira Aldridge, who in 1833 became the first black actor to play Othello on a London stage. The three each have a unique and personal connection to the play’s themes.
Meredith, whose credits include roles in contemporary plays as well as Shakespeare, played Othello at Chicago Shakespeare Theater earlier this year and can speak to the demands of one of Shakespeare’s greatest roles. Godinez, Resident Artistic Associate at the Goodman theater and professor in the Department of Theatre at Northwestern, has been a leading advocate of “authentic casting,” for which Aldridge was a pioneer. Susan Padveen, associate professor of theatre at Columbia College Chicago and coordinator of the school’s directing program, includes Othello among her many directing credits.
Producing Artistic Director Michael Menendian will lead a conversation with James Vincent Meredith following the Sunday, October 16 3:00 pm. performance of Red Velvet. Godinez and Padveen will share the honors on Thursday, November 3, following the 7:30 pm performance, in a discussion moderated by Jonathan Wilson, Professor of Theatre and Drama in Loyola University’s Department of Fine and Performing Arts. There will be no charge to attend the discussions only and reservations are not required. Regular ticket prices apply to performances.
Red Velvet will open on Tuesday, October 4. following previews from Wednesday, September 28 – Monday, October 3. The regular run will continue from Friday, October 7 through Sunday, November 27, 2016, with performances Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 3:00 pm. Tickets are available online at www.raventheatre.com or by phone at 773-338-2177.
About Red Velvet
Red Velvet, which premiered in London in 2012 to critical acclaim, tells the backstage story of African-American actor Ira Aldridge and how in 1833 he became the first black actor to perform the role of Othello on a London stage. The action is set at the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden after Edmund Kean, the greatest actor of his generation, has collapsed on stage while playing Othello. Aldridge has been asked to take over the role, but as the public riots in the streets over the abolition of slavery, how will the cast, critics and audience react to the revolution taking place in the theatre?
Red Velvet enjoyed its world premiere production at London’s Tricycle Theatre and was revived in London this past February by the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company. Its US premiere was in 2014 at New York City’s St. Ann’s Warehouse, and it was produced earlier this year in Los Angeles at the Junction Theatre and at the San Francisco Playhouse. Raven’s production will be the play’s first in Chicago. It will be performed on the company’s East Stage from September 28 through November 27, 2016 under Menendian’s direction. Menendian says “Red Velvet will be an entertaining and moving story of backstage life and racial intolerance in the London theatre world of the early 19th Century. It was a time of dramatic change inside and outside the theater.”