Red Velvet

December 1, 2017

January 21, 2018

CST's Courtyard Theater

by Lolita Chakrabarti
directed by Gary Griffin

A fascinating character study…Johnstone’s performance is both accomplished and moving.

Chicago Tribune

Dion Johnstone was magnificent …his passionate presence captured the very essence of Ira Aldridge

Chicago Now

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The Play

This multi-award winning play transports audiences to the turbulent backstage world of London’s Theatre Royal in the mid-1800s. Edmund Kean, the greatest Shakespearean actor of his age, collapses on stage while performing the lead in Othello. He is replaced by a young, black actor, Ira Aldridge—a first for the role on London’s West End. As a bill in Parliament promoting the abolition of slavery sends shock waves through the streets, how will London react to his performance? Gary Griffin, director of last fall’s “must-see” King Charles III, stages this fascinating true story of a pivotal figure in theater history, featuring Stratford Festival favorite and celebrated actor Dion Johnstone as Ira Aldridge.



Video: Audiences connect to Red Velvet

Video: Lolita Chakrabarti talks Red Velvet

Gallery: In Production: Red Velvet


More to Explore

Critical Acclaim

“Stunning…an amazing and powerful interpretation. This one is a MUST SEE, in particular for theater-lovers and of course, those who adore Shakespeare.”
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A Conversation with the Director

Gary Griffin discusses his connection to the script, and how staging a script based in history is different than a fictional story.
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A Conversation with the Playwright

Red Velvet playwright Lolita Chakrabarti visited Chicago Shakespeare as the cast completed its five-week rehearsal period prior to Opening Night.
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The Players

Creative Team

Lolita Chakrabarti Playwright

Gary Griffin Director

Scott Davis Scenic Designer

Mara Blumenfeld Costume Designer

Christine Binder Lighting Designer

Chris Kriz Sound Designer

Richard Jarvie Wig and Make-up Designer

Jenny Giering Original Music

David Woolley Fight Choreographer

Eva Breneman Dialect Coach

Tyrone Phillips Associate Director


Greg Matthew Anderson Pierre LaPorte

Chaon Cross Ellen Tree

Michael Hayden Charles Kean

Jürgen Hooper Casimir/Henry Forester

Tiffany Renee Johnson Connie

Dion Johnstone Ira Aldridge

Roderick Peeples Bernard Ward/Terence

Annie Purcell Margaret Aldridge/Halina

Bri Sudia Betty Lovell

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