Local theater honors diversity in ‘Red Velvet’

By Mayra S. Ventura

The Junction Theater presents the West Coast premiere of “Red Velvet” at the Atwater Playhouse in Los Angeles playing now  until April 30.

The play is a biography of Ira Aldridge,  the first African-American actor to play a role in Shakespeare’s “Othello.”

The play also illustrates the impact he had on the history of theater and how things haven’t changed over the course of centuries.

“Red Velvet,” written by Lolita Chakrabarti and directed by Benjamin Pohlmer, follows the journey of Ira Aldridge, who becomes the first Black man to be cast in a traditional white role during the time of slavery.

As the play unfolds, it shows how the culture of the London stage in 1833 resisted the idea of having black actors on stage.

“ Red Velvet” shows how passion, persistence and determination have the power to change the status quo of society.

“In one of the scenes, I feel so shameful for the white race and in general. At that point, my character was thinking, ‘I have to get out of this country,’ actor Sean C. Dwyer,  who plays Henry Forrester said.

The cast of ten delivers a high-energy and modern perspective of the life of Aldridge. Within hours, the cast and producer managed to execute the play, giving a detailed and brief biography of the life of Aldridge.

“We have to work much harder to keep the energy and keep it interesting and vital. Another high point has been the additional learning that you do as you continue on,” Dwyer said.

According to attendee Linda Martinez, Paul Outlaw portrayed Ira Aldridge very well.

“He seems confident about himself and he seems to stand out like trying to be the best,” Martinez said. “Knowing that people admired him for his performance, he shows a little narcissistic side to him.”

The play’s running time is approximately two hours with an intermission of 15 minutes.

General admission tickets are $25. Tickets for students, seniors and veterans are $20.

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