Ira Aldridge: Theatrical Trailblazer

Playbill, Royal Shakespearean Theatre, Stratford, April 28, 1851
Aldridge’s main success as an actor came in touring towns outside London. On April 28, 1851, he performed at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Shakespeare’s birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon. This playbill includes a biography that blends fact and fiction: tales that his grandfather was a Senegalese emperor overthrown in a mutinous uprising appear to be sensational fiction put forward by Aldridge himself. It was common practice for actors to invent elaborate life stories to make themselves seem more interesting—and to sell more tickets—to theatre-goers.

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