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Adrian Lester in Red Velvet. Photo: Tristram Kenton

Culture Now: Lolita Chakrabarti and Adrian Lester

25 Jan 2013

Join us for a lunchtime talk with Lolita Chakrabarti and Adrian Lester in conversation with Head of Acting at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Geoffrey Colman.

Methuen Drama playwright, Lolita Chakrabarti, who recently won Most Promising Playwright at the 2012 Evening Standard Theatre Awards, will be joined by the actor Adrian Lester to discuss her debut play, Red Velvet, which has recently finished a sold-out run to great critical acclaim at London’s Tricycle Theatre.

Red Velvet focuses on the fascinating, but little-known, historical figure of Ira Aldridge, one of the greatest Shakespearean actors of his day and Britain’s first black actor of note, played by Adrian Lester. Chakrabarti’s play explores the challenges Ira Aldridge faced on the London stage in 1833 when he took over the role of Othello at Covent Garden after Edmund Kean collapsed on stage, as well as the new kind of realistic acting that Aldridge attempted to pioneer.

Recently appointed officer of the order of the British Empire, Lester is best-known for his role in BBC TV series Hustle, played the title role, for which he was nominated for Best Actor at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards, and in April he will be playing Othello at the National Theatre.

An Associate Master of the Theatre Royal Haymarket and features writer for The Stage, Geoffrey Colman is currently Head of Acting at the Central School of Speech and Drama. As a freelance director and acting coach his career has combined work in opera, theatre and film/TV. In this diverse field he has worked with playwrights, composers, actors and singers (and holograms of actors) from various performance contexts ranging from writers at the National Theatre of Finland and Institut del Teatre Barcelona, to actors with Miramax Films, models on Britain's Next Top Model, the comedian Lenny Henry and the award winning international Transglobal Underground recording artist Natasha Atlas.

The press on Red Velvet:

A layered and revealing play, superbly acted - Independent on Sunday

A play that first playfully, then powerfully, examines progress on the stage as a reflection of the wider world. It’s a cracker of a play: gripping, intelligent and passionate . . . This is a fine, subtle play that not only depicts the ugliness of prejudice in action, but also touches on wider questions about how change is achieved in theatre and society. - Financial Times

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