Rogues & Vagabonds

theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013…

Archive • Ira Aldridge Commemorated • 2007

The Ira Aldridge Bicentenary Project celebrates the life of the most famous and successful black and classical actor of the 19th century. Born in New York in 1807, Aldridge moved to London as a young man (he later became British), acting at the Surrey Theatre as early as 1825 as Oroonoko in The Revolt of Surinam.

Although well-known in London and the British provinces, his greatest successes were in Europe (especially Russia) where he played roles in both contemporary plays and Shakespeare, notably Aaron, Othello, Macbeth, Shylock and Lear.

Aldridge died in Lodz, Poland, in 1867 – still touring. It is said that he received over 400 awards during his career, the most honoured actor of the age.

Ira Aldridge as Aaron The Society for Theatre Research (STR)

Yesterday morning, in the appropriately-named Hamlet Road near south London’s Alexander Palace, a simple ceremony took place. One of English Heritage’s Blue Plaques was unveiled at No. 5, the house where the famous nineteenth-century Shakespearean actor Ira Aldridge used to live.

Aldridge was an American who, after finding it almost impossible to make a career as a black man in the States, came to Britain in his teens. In 1833 he appeared at the Surrey Theatre as Oroonoko in The Revolt of Surinam but it was in the provinces that he established his reputation before being accepted in the patent theatres.

He was much appreciated on the Continent, especially in Poland and Russia, and was weighed down with medals and honours awarded by the European courts. He was particularly known for his Othello and Aaron but, as Oku Ekpenyon told the gathered crowd before unveiling the plaque, he also played Macbeth and Lear (with a white make-up) and his Shylock was considerably appreciated by Jewish audiences in Eastern Europe who felt he gave the money-lender true humanity.

It was particularly appropriate that this unveiling took place in Black History Month and in the year of Aldridge’s bicentenary. It was touching that at the front of the assembled crowd were a number of black children, now among the residents at what had been this great black actor’s home.

Howard Loxton © 2007

Originally published on 25th October 2007 in Rogues & Vagabonds.

One comment on “Archive • Ira Aldridge Commemorated • 2007

  1. lizziepawla
    03/23/2021

    Hi, I am a current owner and resident in one of the flats of this converted building. We’re you there the day the plaque was unveiled? I’d love to find more pictures.

    All the best
    Lizzie

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Enogastronomista

Food & Wine

Coffee fuels my photography!

~ my everyday life through the lens of my camera ~

Polly's Paper Studio

Vintage Inspired Paper Crafts & Digital Design

Life on La Lune

A journey through life in Southwest France

Vanessa Couchman

Historical Fiction with a French Flavour

Disability & Determination

It isn't being John Malkovich, but it is being me

Nicholas Andriani

Academic, Cultural Critic, & Narrative Designer: Researching Fandom Through Literature, Folklore, Game Studies & Pop Culture.

Joe Ruggiero at Home

Daily Reflections from My Home and Garden

Mitch Teemley

The Power of Story

Genealogy Jude

Unlocking the Door to Your Past

COOKING ON A BOOTSTRAP

by Jack Monroe, bestselling author of 'A Girl Called Jack'

Stevie Turner

Realist, writer, reader, reviewer and rocker.

The Stuff They Won't Include in Any Tourist Guide: The Real England

The Real England is a concise, direct, and not-so-gentle window into the depths of the leftovers of the world’s once greatest empire. It is told from the perspective of one lone (or not so lone) long term visitor. It informs one of the dregs of the country and helps to explain quaint British oddities such as the crack addicted chav.

S.O.U.L. S-P-A-C-E

Artists, Writers and Visionaries Blog on the Unique and Ordinary

The Lady Sews

Collected works and other excuses from a textile obssessive

coelsblog

Defending Scientism

@KellyOSullivan

has random thoughts

Criminal Historian

Working with dead people

JEMSBOOKS

Writing - Loving What I Do and Doing What I Love!

Noir

the darker side to sedge808

Off Center & Not Even

Photographs, music and writing about daily life. Contact: elcheo@swcp.com

Reina Cottier Art

Creative Intuitive from New Zealand

Tenafly Road

Family Saga Fiction by Adrienne Morris

johnrieber

Burgers, Books, Music, Movies, Offbeat Adventures & Pop Culture!

Etan Smallman

Freelance journalist

Assemblage Art

theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013...

Candia Comes Clean

Candid cultural comments from the Isles of Wonder

blackwings666

Horror, Science Fiction, Comic Books and More

The Wandering Empath

Traveling the World Through Others

I didn't have my glasses on....

A trip through life with fingers crossed and eternal optimism.

penwithlit

Art, Literature, Poetry, Politics and a little History

Jet Eliot

Travel and Wildlife Adventures

Judith Barrow

Writer & Author

Sophia Riley Kobacker

it's all about the story, possums...

Tropical Affair

Observations of the illusion through the eyes of wonder...

Doodlewash®

Adventures in Watercolor Painting and Sketching, Watercolour Magazine, with Charlie O'Shields

Life in Russia

The Bridge between two countries

London Life With Liz

A lifestyle blog with a little bit of everything.

Brotherly Love

A personal exploration of autism from a brother’s perspective, including family relationships, philosophy, neuroscience, mental health history and ethics

Alex Raphael

Entertainment, travel and lifestyle blog

Teagan's Books

Founder of the Three Things Method of Storytelling

%d bloggers like this: