Saturday: "Red Velvet": A Staged Reading

Sept. 10

It's 2016, and here we are, still seeing white people play non-white people on the big screen while actors of color (and transgender actors and actors with disabilities) fight for visibility. Ridley Scott made it perfectly clear when he defended the whitewashed casting for his 2014 film "Exodus: Gods and Kings" (set in, you know, ancient Egypt): "I can’t mount a film of this budget, where I have to rely on tax rebates in Spain, and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such. I’m just not going to get it financed. So the question doesn’t even come up." Hoo boy. The struggle for parity in casting isn't new, of course. Lolita Chakrabarti's 2012 play "Red Velvet" peers into the life and work of Ira Aldridge, an African-American stage actor who performed in England during the first half of the 19th century. Aldridge is said to be the first black actor to play the title role of Shakespeare's "Othello"—after 200-plus years of white actors in blackface playing the role. In anticipation of their upcoming production of "Othello" (Sept. 16-Oct. 9), the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company will stage a reading of "Red Velvet" at the Walters, which owns in its collection a rare portrait of Aldridge. 2 p.m., The Walters Art Museum, 600 N. Charles St., (410) 244-8570, chesapeakeshakespeare.com, free. (Maura Callahan)

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