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+The African Tragedian+ chronicles actor+s life

March 21, 1997

'The African Tragedian' chronicles actor's life

Courtesy Photo

Robin Scott Peters will perform the life of African-American Shakespearean performer, Ira Frederick Aldridge, in The African Tragedian.

By Robin Starnes

Lariat Reporter

Black actors were scarce in the 1820s. Audiences did not take them seriously, critics were harsh in their assessments and dignified parts were scarce. Despite this adversity, one actor managed to rise above the problems and become a renowned Shakespearean performer.

The life of actor Ira Frederick Aldridge is chronicled in Dr. Robin Scott Peters' production, The African Tragedian.

'This is a one man show about an African-American gentleman in the 1820s,' Peters said. 'He worked for the African Grove Theater Co. in New York trying to play dignified parts. Police would actually enter and destroy theaters where blacks were performing Shakespeare.'

Unable to perform Shakespeare in America, Aldridge moved to England where he became a famous actor.

Peters wrote the script to The African Tragedian in 1994 when he studied Aldridge at UCLA. In the performance, Peters portrays every character. He has presented the act all over California and wants to spread Aldridge's story east.

'I was looking for opportunities to perform east of California when I met Jerry Morrison,' Peters said. Morrison, a University graduate student in theater, invited Peters to Texas.

The African Tradegdian will be performed in Theater 11 in Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Building on Friday at 2 p.m. and Saturday at 8 p.m. Admission is free and all are invited. Also, the public is invited to a come-and-go Movement Improvisational Workshop taught by Peters in Theater 11 on Friday from 11a.m. until 1 p.m.

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