Bright Swords

rick creese · Ages 12+ · world premiere · one person show · United States of America

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MORNA MURPHY MARTELL · June 17, 2015
Being British born I had heard of their 19th century Shakespearean actor Ira Aldridge but knew little about him. Well, in this fascinating hour Ryan Vincent Anderson, as Aldridge, vividly enacts the history but also shows the soul of the man. A free black American, at age 18 Aldridge escaped from a country where his passion for acting was thwarted by the dangers of prejudice. What playwright Rick Creese shows in this biography is the personal life of an itinerant player in that era who became a star while demanding that the British abolish slavery throughout the Empire – which they did. There is his deep affection in marriage to a blonde English lady; his relationships with other greats of the period; the desperation of an actor traveling th... full review

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ERNEST KEARNEY thetvolution.com · June 21, 2015
BRIGHT SWORDS (Platinum Medal) “Bright Swords” tells the remarkable story of Ira Aldridge (1807 – 1867). Born in New York, the son of a freed black minister, Aldridge was fortunate in attending the African Free School in that city, established to provide the children of free blacks and slaves with a classical education. It was here he was introduced to the world of theatre. Aldridge would go on to become one of the most renowned actors of the time, reaping praise for his Shakespearian portrayals which would take him to stages the world over. And if you ever pass through Stratford-upon-Avon take the time to check out the plaques on the walls of the Shakespeare Theatre. Aldridge is the only African-American actor honored there. S... full review

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ELLEN DOSTAL · June 20, 2015
tagged as: shakespeare · educational
Bright Swords has three essential elements that make it one of the most polished, intelligent, and satisfying productions at Fringe: an elegant performance by Ryan Vincent Anderson, a beautifully written, smart, funny, human script by playwright Rick Creese, and stylish, impeccably focused direction by director Jeffrey Wienckowski. Alone on stage, Anderson takes the audience through the challenges and triumphs of one of the most important but little-known early actors of the theatre. Ira Aldridge was the first African American to play Othello on a London stage at a time when actors of color were often nothing more than figures to be laughed at. His determination to portray his characters as men rather than stereotypes was revolutionary in... full review

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KAT MICHELS · June 21, 2015
tagged as: #SeeItLa
#SeeItLA - Ryan Vincent Anderson delivers a great performance, shows much versatility in switching from one character to the next, and the script is solid as it is which makes this production a definite #SeeIt. However, it lacks the emotional punch that it could have so easily carried, had the script not left the meat of the story off stage. Instead of putting the character in each scene, and letting us see the emotion and feeling illicited by each circumstance (like almost being illegally sold into slavery), the script is simply a recitation of all of the events in Ira Aldridge's life, with no room left for how each event made him feel. Despite this, Anderson succeeds in infusing genuine feeling wherever he can, but his hands are tied. He i... full review

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JORDAN YOUNG · June 21, 2015
Heard of Ira Aldridge? It matters not. This show exhumes the 19th century black actor and brings him vividly back to life, telling the story of how he took a fellow thespian's advice when he was 17 and went to England, where he would not face racial prejudice. It's well-acted by Ryan Vincent Anderson, who shifts credibly between Aldridge and a variety of supporting characters, making each unique; Jeffrey Wienckowski's direction is first-rate, highly attentive and never arbitrary. If there's a flaw it's in Rick Creese's script. The show is heavy on exposition, though some of it is by necessity, dealing as it does with a largely forgotten figure; the text is solid for the most part but ventures into the mundane at times.... full review

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