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April 20, 2014 AT 4:16 AM
Adrian Lester, a British actor who appeared in the BBC TV series Hustle and the film, Primary Colors, is currently portraying a 19th century African-American actor who became a leading Shakespearean actor in Europe in the American premiere of the play Red Velvet, at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn. The play—which won numerous awards for Lester and the playwright, Lolita Chakrabarti, who is Lester’s wife, in Great Britain, where it was first performed—is based on the true story of Ira Aldridge, an African-American actor who was tapped to play Othello at Covent Garden in 1833, when the British Empire was deeply divided over the issue of abolition.