Resource Pack Lesson 1: Pre show Introduction Learning Objectives: To consider the historical context of theatre in the 1800’s To gain an understanding of Ira Aldridge’s position as a black actor at that time Resource 1 What do you notice about the actors of today and the actors of the 1800’s? Resource 2 Who is this man? What do you think he does? This is a picture of Ira Aldridge Ira lived from 1807-1867 He was an actor and was one of the first black actors to perform in the theatre in the 1800’s Resource 3 Ira Aldridge’s Life 1807 Ira is born in New York 1807 The Abolition of Slavery Act is passed and calls for the gradual abolition of slavery in all British colonies. 1833 Ira performs on stage in London 1867 Ira dies in Poland, aged 60 1833 African American men are first given the right to vote in Washington DC in USA, although this doesn’t happen for another 3 years. 1867 The last ships involved in the slave trade dock in Liverpool. Resource 4 Reviews of Ira Aldridge’s first performance on stage Owing to the shape of his lips, it is utterly impossible for him to pronounce English. Several of his touches in the last scene were impressive and … brought down spontaneous plaudits. The audience laughed at him all through the play, but it was not until he killed himself that their delight grew outrageous. The audience were astounded and sat there spellbound for some seconds then they simultaneously rose and applauded Ira who took six curtain calls. Aldridge roars and shouts so loudly that he would be more suited to an African jungle rather than the stage. Plenary What are you expecting from the play? Lesson 2: Post show Reflection Learning Objectives: To reflect on the themes and issues in Red Velvet To use knowledge and understanding of Red Velvet to explore the characters in more depth Resource 5 Character Descriptions/Motivations Ira has travelled to London in order to forge a career as an actor. A bold and powerful presence, driven by his passion for acting, and for Shakespeare. He can also be incredibly charming, but possesses a fearsome temper. Ellen is engaged to Charles Kean and is the leading female actor in the company. She, like Ira, has a deep passion for acting and for Shakespeare, and while respectful to the conventions of the time, she is excited at playing Desdemona opposite Ira. Charles is the son of the great actor Edmund Kean and has been playing Iago opposite his father for many years. Defensive of the conventions of the time, he is thoroughly reluctant about Ira playing Othello. Pierre is the theatre manager at Covent Garden. Having left Paris, Pierre has fought his way to the prestigious position he now holds. An old friend of Ira's, he seizes the opportunity of the vacant role of Othello. The Theatre Board is a conservative body, mainly interested in maintaining the reputation of the theatre and making money from it. Some board members support the notion of slavery. Halina is a voice from the present day. She is a young Polish journalist who is determined to write a story about the great actor she has heard so much about. She is quite revolutionary as there are very few female journalists in 1867.