LOS ANGELES, CA - After multiple successes elsewhere, Red Velvet, a critically acclaimed play, finally premiered on the west coast at the Atwater Playhouse presented by the Junction Theatre here, on March 26. Red Velvet tells the story of how chaos exploded when Black American actor Ira Aldridge arrived...
The play “examines what happens when a courageous few dare to challenge the status quo, how intractable opinions and feelings can be, and how hard it is to bring about change. The play is written by Lolita Chakrabarti. In a exclusive interview with India Journal , Chakrabarti said she had the idea of writing something about Ira Aldridge brewing in her head for nearly two decades. Taking her time with the piece, Chakrabarti gave herself and the subject breaks when she felt it was necessary. “I found out about Aldridge in 1998 and spent three years researching him. I put my research away mainly until I started writing the play 4
“It took me a long time to find the story in the play because Aldridge’s life was so vast and so colorful. I’ve written many scenes with many characters that never made it into the final version but I think they are ever present somewhere under the text,” said Chakrabarti. After deciding which aspects of Aldridge’s life to bring back to life, Chakrabarti took her time to personify him and his life. She wrote 30 or so drafts in her attempt to make Aldridge proud.
Not only did Chakrabarti take her time to recreate the aspects of Aldridge’s life, additionally, she wanted to make sure that she was as true to his life as possible. “The truth was as important as my interpretation of it,” said Chakrabarti. Upon completion of the play and witnessing audience reactions to the play the writer realizes that all of her hard work has paid off. “It has been wonderful seeing this play performed and the reactions of the audience. People don’t know what they’ll get and when they laugh and then perhaps cry and come out moved or informed, it makes me see that the slog of this play has been absolutely worth it,” said Chakrabarti. Additionally, there are some aspects that were even enjoyed along the way by the writer. “I did enjoy the detective trail of the research,” said Chakrabarti. Hoping that the audience members are motivated by Aldridge’s story, Chakrabarti wishes that Aldridge is not forgotten and that he gets his moment in history. Red Velvet will play at the Atwater Playhouse on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m. through April 30. Tickets can be purchased by calling Brown Paper Tickets 24/7 at (800)838-3006, or at http://redvelvet.brown papertickets.com.