Adrian Lester in rehearsal as Ira Aldridge
Marking the opening of Indhu Rubasingham's inaugural season as artistic director of the Tricycle Theatre, Red Velvet centres on Aldridge, the African-American actor who caused a storm in 1833 when he took over from Edmund Keen in Othello at the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden.
By remarkable coincidence, a lost picture of Aldridge (below) has recently been unearthed, just as the play is about to open (on 11 October 2012). The 40 x 60 cm oil on board painting was discovered by Birmingham-born art enthusiast Stephen Howes, who found it in his late mother's garage.
Art historian Michelle Linger said of the discovery: “This piece is significant on many levels. It is unusual as it shows Aldridge actually performing, probably at the height of his fame as he is clearly the principal lead in the production, whereas most paintings of him are portraits. And it is clearly not a Shakespeare play - and most people would have known him for his roles in Othello and The Merchant of Venice - which adds to the work’s singularity."
Writer Lolita Chakrabarti
Red Velvet runs at the Tricycle Theatre until 24 November.
All photos by Tristram Kenton.
Simon Chandler, Charlotte Lucas, Rachel Finnegan, Ferdinand Kingsley
Director Indhu Rubasingham, writer Lolita Chakrabarti & choreographer Imogen Knight