Bright Swords

rick creese · Ages 12+ · United States of America

one person show world premiere
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June 21, 2015

My overall impression

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.
So clearly, playwright Rick Creese has picked out a compelling subject for his piece. He tells of young Aldridge’s apprenticeship in the African Company, the country’s first black owned and operated theatre troupe where he honed his acting skills. Creese continues on with the story, when, in 1824 no longer able to abide the all pervasive prejudice of the day, Aldridge abandons America for Europe, where a new life beyond his imagining awaits him.
Now in trying to explain my passion for theatre to the uninitiated, I often speak of that magical experience, unique to live theatre alone, when a world different from our own, is created out of “airy nothings.”
Of course, in order for those “airy nothings” to show up and take care of business they need the support of a solidly crafted script, an actor (or actors) of no mean talent, and a director who knows there’s more to the craft than pontificating and striking brooding poses.
“Bright Swords” stands as a sterling example of that experience and of what can be achieved when the synchronized talents of theatre join on a bare stage.
For there is little on stage at the Complex except for Rick Creese’ tight and expertly written play, Jeffery Wienckowski’s able and intelligent direction, and Ryan Vincent Anderson’s stellar performance, from which is conjured up a world long gone and a life of a man now long dead.
Such is the power of theatre.
Oh! Wait, they had a stool on stage too.
It is fitting that the Fringe should offer this amazing tale drawn from the history of the very thing we are gathered to celebrate.

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