The third volume of Bernth Lindfors's award-winning biography, Ira Aldridge: Performing Shakespeare in Europe, 1852-1855 traces the American-born black classical actor's itinerary on his first Continental tour, recounting his performances and analyzing audience responses to them. He initially toured with an experienced British troupe he recruited, but eventually he started performing with local actors and actresses who spoke their parts in their ownlanguage while he continued to deliver his lines in English. This bilingual collaboration worked well in Western Europe and introduced him to audiences in Hungary, Poland, and other East European territories he might not otherwise have reached. This venture abroad changed Aldridge as a performer. Audiences in Europe wanted to see him in Shakespearean roles rather than in the racial melodramas and farces that were popular in the British Isles. As a consequence, Aldridge concentrated almost exclusively on performing as Othello, Shylock, Macbeth, and Richard III. In the course of his travels he won more major international awards and honors, often conferred by royalty, than anyother actor of his day. These were his glory years. Bernth Lindfors, Professor Emeritus of English and African Literatures, University of Texas at Austin, is the author of Ira Aldridge: The Early Years, 1807-1833and Ira Aldridge: The Vagabond Years, 1833-1852, both published by the University of Rochester Press in 2011.
Subjects: Performing Arts, Sociology, History
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