Ira Aldridge: Theatrical Trailblazer

Playbill, Dingwall Theatre, Scotland, May 1, 1840, with handwritten letter on reverse
In Dingwall, Scotland, Aunt B. went to see Aldridge’s performance in 1840 and penned a letter on the back of a playbill to her niece, Miss M., in Westminster, London. The aunt wrote, “Witnessed the performance of Zanga last evening. The audience was respectable—but with the exception that he dressed and looked the Moor it was otherwise contemptible…” While Aldridge was successful with many audiences, there were always critics who lacked the ability to see Aldridge as anything more than a man of color, and preemptively denied any possibility that he might demonstrate a high level of artistry.

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