Ira Aldridge Save Ira Frederick Aldridge July 24, — August 7, was an American and later British stage actor and playwright who made his career after largely on the London stage and in Europe, especially in Shakespearean roles. He was especially popular in Prussia and Russia, where he received top honors from heads of state. He was married twice, once to an Englishwoman, once to a Swedish woman, and had a family in England. Two of his daughters became professional opera singers.
They were given a classical education, with the study of English grammar, writing, mathematics, geography, and astronomy. ReasonGeorge T. Downingand Henry Highland Garnet. Aldridge's first professional acting experience was in the early s with the African Company, a group founded and managed by William Henry Brown and James Hewlett.
He may have also played the male lead in Romeo and Juliet, as reported later in an memoir by his schoolfellow, Dr. During this time the Industrial Revolution had begun, bringing about radical economic change that helped expand the development of theatres.
Aldridge observed a common theatrical practice of assuming an identical or similar nomenclature to that of a celebrity in order to garner attention.
In addition to being called F. The second playbill refers to him as 'The African Tragedian'.
So everybody goes to the theater expecting to laugh because this is the man they think Mathews saw in New York City. Especially in the years leading up to the emancipation of all slaves in the British colonies inhe would speak of the injustice of slavery and the passionate desire for freedom of those held in bondage.
He earned admiration from his audiences while most critics emphasized Aldridge's lack of stage training and experience. For The Times he was "baker-kneed and narrow-chested with lips so shaped that it is utterly impossible for him to pronounce English"; The Globe found his conception of Oroonoko to be very judicious and his enunciation distinct and sonorous; and The Drama described him as "tall and tolerably well proportioned with a weak voice that gabbles apace.
One critic wrote, "In Othello Aldridge delivers the most difficult passages with a degree of correctness that surprises the beholder.
In search of new and suitable material, Aldridge also appeared occasionally as white European characters, for which he would be appropriately made up with greasepaint and wig.
Touring and later years[ edit ] Aldridge as Othello by William MulreadyWalters Art Museum In Aldridge successfully played in Dublin ; at several locations in southern Ireland, where he created a sensation in the small towns; as well as in BathEngland and EdinburghScotland.
The actor Edmund Kean praised his Othello; some took him to task for taking liberties with the text, while others attacked his race. Aldridge used this to his benefit and expanded African references in his biography that appeared in playbills,  also identifying his birthplace as "Africa" in his entry in the census.
The Revenge race-flips the plot of Othello by showing how Zanga, a captured Moorish prince who has become the servant and confidant of the noble Don Alonzo, vengefully tricks him into believing his wife is unfaithful. Alonzo finally kills himself and Zanga exults: The same reviewer praised Aldridge's comic talents in the contrasting role of Mungo in the Bickerstaffe farce The Padlockdescribing them as a refreshing corrective to current stereotypical "blackface" representation, " An tour took him to Serbia and to Imperial Russiawhere he became acquainted with Count Fyodor TolstoyMikhail Shchepkin and the Ukrainian poet and artist Taras Shevchenkowho did his portrait in pastel.
Now of an appropriate age, about this time, he played the title role of King Lear in England for the first time. He purchased some property in England,  toured Russia againand applied for British citizenship Ira Aldridge was a 19th-century African-American actor who became a renowned actor of Shakespearean tragedy on the European stage.
He is the only actor of African-American descent among the 33 actors of the English stage honored with bronze plaques at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at . The first black actor to play many of William Shakespeare's leading roles, Ira Aldridge took 19th-century London by storm when in he performed Othello in the city’s docklands.
Ira Frederick Aldridge (July 24, – August 7, ) was an American and later British stage actor and playwright who made his career largely on the London stage and in Europe, especially in Shakespearean initiativeblog.com: 7 August (aged 60), Łódź, Congress Poland.
The black actor Ira Aldridge is now recognised as one of the most remarkable interpreters of Shakespeare’s leading roles.
He first appeared on the London stage as Othello in , and remained associated with the role for the rest of his life. In Ira Aldridge sailed for Europe, accepting invitations to appear in Germany, Prussia, Switzerland and Russia.
When he started touring the continent the public wanted to see him play classic roles from Shakespeare that they knew from translation.
Ira Frederick Aldridge was an American and later British stage actor and playwright who made his career after largely on the London stage and in Europe, especially in Shakespearean roles. Born in New York City, Aldridge is the only actor of African-American descent among the 33 actors of the English stage honoured with bronze .