Friday, October 2, 2015

Ira Aldridge Has a Cold: STCC Puts History On Stage

Posted By on Fri, Oct 2, 2015 at 4:59 PM

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Delvyn Brown is one of Memphis' most dynamic actors and he brings a lot of energy and daring to Southwest Tennessee professor Levi Frazier's historical drama, For Our Freedom and Yours.

For Our Freedom
is a one man show about the life of the 19th-Century expatriate African-American actor Ira Aldridge. 

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Aldridge was a free man and just starting to make a name for himself as a serious actor when the growing popularity of blackface minstrel shows made it hard for a skilled Shakespearean of color to find work. Aldridge left America for Europe where he was admired for notable performances in Othello, Richard III, Merchant of Venice, and other works, both classical and contemporary. Aldridge would eventually use his fame to help foment the anti-slavery movement in Poland. 

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I say that For Our Freedom And Yours is a one man show. That's not entirely true. Other actors appear on stage as Aldridge's mute dressers, loved ones and attendants. Frazier's text is delivered in the form of a speech, delivered by the great actor, to the people of Poland, on the eve of his death. It's essentially one great big information dump. Thankfully Frazier knows how to tell a story and Brown never disappoints. In fact, throughout much of the performance I felt sorry for the actor who was clearly giving his all in spite of having a nasty head and chest cold. Turns out, all that coughing was part of the plot.


Delvyn Brown as Ira Aldridge.
  • Delvyn Brown as Ira Aldridge.

The multimedia performance is directed by Evelyn Little and features numerous projected images of Aldridge.

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For Our Freedom and Yours
runs through October 11. STCC Theatre, Union Ave. Campus. Performances are free but donations are encouraged. Friday's shows are unusually early: 12:30 p.m. Saturday curtain's at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 3 p.m. 

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