Red Velvet by Lolita Chakrabarti

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
Ira is born in
New York
The Abolition of
Slavery Act is passed
and calls for the
gradual abolition of
slavery in all British
Ira performs on
stage in London
Ira dies in
Poland, aged 60
African American men
are first given the
right to vote in
Washington DC in
USA, although this
doesn’t happen for
another 3 years.
The last ships
involved in the slave
trade dock in
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
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.
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
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.

similar documents