Red Velvet | July 27 – August 17

by Lolita Chakrabarti
directed by Jennifer Nelson

sponsored by EatonPeabody_Firmand mainecommunityfoundation

Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, 1833. Edmund Kean, the greatest actor of his time, 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 Maine Premier: Thursday, July 27, 7:30 p.m. (Preview)
Friday, July 28, 7:30 p.m. (Opening with Pre-Show Classics in Context Discussion)
Saturday, July 29, 1:00 p.m.
Tuesday, August 1, 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, August 2, 1:00 p.m.
Sunday, August 6, 1:00 p.m.
Sunday, August 13, 7:00 p.m. (Post-Show Discussion)
Thursday, August 17, 7:30 p.m.


Production Team

Jennifer Nelson

Dan Bilodeau
Set Designer

Michelle Handley
Costume Designer

Matthew Adelson***
Lighting Designer
tippin_rew_bwRew Tippin
Sound Designer

Ingrid Pierson*
Assistant Stage Manager

Hayley Wenk
Assistant Stage Manager

Cast (In order of appearance)

Emery Lawrence
Cassimir/Henry Forester

Meghan Leathers
Halina/Betty/Margaret Aldridge

James Noel Hoban*
Terrence/Bernard Warde
Ryan Vincent Anderson*
Ira Aldridge

Maggie Thompson

Travis Johnson
Charles Kean

Kelsey Burke
Ellen Tree

Brad Wilson
Pierre Laporte


*Member of Actor’s Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States.



*** Member of United Scenic Artists, the union of professional theatrical designers in the United States


From the Director

 American history is a wondrous, colorful quilt of personalities, intentions, adventures, disappointments and successes. The train of events unfolded no doubt by virtue of the diversity inherent in a history and culture that produced our polyglot self-expression and our endless capacity to expand and enfold new elements—even when those elements challenged the status quo. A look back at America in the 19th century gives us some of the most striking examples of how we as a country evolved—not always gracefully but inexorably toward becoming the polyglot culture we now are.

The story of Ira Aldridge offers us a curiously enlightening perspective on one chapter of American history. Aldridge was born in 1807 in New York City to Reverend Daniel Aldridge and his wife Luranah. Ira received a classical education at the African Free School and was exposed to live theatre at an early age—including viewing plays at the Park Theatre, the most prominent theatre in New York at the time. He began performing on stage as a teenager with the African Grove Theatre, the first resident African-American theatre in the US. He was, indeed, a renaissance man of his era.

When rivalry for audiences grew between the African Grove Company and the Park Theatre, Aldridge left the country and never returned. Beginning in London, he embarked on a uniquely successful European career. Of course, with no film and few specific details in print, we can only imagine what his work was like. But there is ample evidence that he was hugely successful. Red Velvet gives us an imagined look into how he worked, what challenges he might have faced, and why he is still revered among European theatricals.

As a theatre worker, an African American and a lover of history, I was thrilled to be invited to mount this play. I hope it will resonate for you as a very late, long overdue tribute to a man who never gave up his mission to create beauty for audiences around the world.