Set in London in 1833, the show follows Ira Aldridge, who is set to play the title role in Shakespeare’s Othello. However, when he arrives at the theater, pandemonium erupts. Despite his passion and eloquence, one thing holds Aldridge back from his stage career: He’s black. Even playing Shakespeare’s infamous Moor would be an overhaul of the status quo. At the core of Aldridge’s struggle is the greater struggle to question society as it exists and to bring about change in the face of seemingly intractable opinions and feelings.
Written by Lolita Chakrabarti, the show is both directed and produced by Benjamin Pohlmeier. The cast features Paul Outlaw as Ira Aldridge/Othello, Nicola Bertram as Ellen Tree/Desdemona, Colin Campbell as Pierre Laporte, Adam Chacon as Terence/Bernard Warde, Amanda Charney as Betty Lovell, Sean C. Dwyer as Casimir/Henry Forrester/Cassio, Kailena Mai as Halina Wozniak, Erin Elizabeth Reed as Margaret Aldridge, Dee Dee Stephens as Connie, and Ben Warner as Charles Kean/Iago.
"Resistance to diversity is rooted in the fear of change," said Pohlmeier, in a statement; "a fear of accepting a constantly evolving world, because it will mean the loss of privilege. Privilege, conversely, translates into influence, and, if ruthlessly executed, it will slow the match of progress to a desperate crawl. A play not only about race, Red Velvet shows how, in the face of adversity, passion and persistence inevitably build the kind of pressure necessary to bring about change, but it also tallies up the costs of losing battles we dare to fight."
The creative team includes Kiley Hanon (set design), Kristina Moore (costume design), Douglas Gabrielle (lighting design), James Ferrero (sound design), Rameel Raymundo (postcard design), and Jerry Blackburn (stage manager).
Performances will run through April 30.