Bright Swords

rick creese · Ages 12+ · United States of America

one person show world premiere
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DONNA SIMONE JOHNSON certified reviewer June 13, 2015
Bright Swords is an engaging and interesting one-man show, steeped in theatre history. Ryan Vincent Anderson is captivating as he effortlessly weaves a multitude of characters into the fascinating story of the first black Othello, embodying each with precision. I was especially moved by the text, as Rick Creese has succeeding in giving us historical details while immersing us in the private and personal life of Ira Aldridge. Kudos to the entire team, including Director Jeffrey Wienckowski, who creates a bevy of colours and textures, a true feat for a solo show! Highly recommended!... full review
MORNA MURPHY MARTELL certified reviewer 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
ERNEST KEARNEY certified reviewer 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
BELLA MERLIN certified reviewer June 14, 2015
This was an incredibly thoughtful and thought-provoking piece, with a winning and evocative performance by Ryan Vincent Anderson and pithy, witty and touching writing from Rick Creese. Anderson's facility to whip from character to character is very engaging, though on occasion the 'type' took over from the 'truth'. By which I simply mean I wanted to feel a little more sympathy for the wife rather than gentle mockery. However, this is one of the pitfalls of one person shows: we want to tell the story clearly, at the same time we have to be careful not to jeopardise the truthful perspective of each character we're portraying. This is quibbling, however, as this is a very compelling piece which raises eternal questions about equality and the i... full review
ROBERT VESTAL certified reviewer June 17, 2015
Beautifully acted, written, and directed. An incredible insight into a slice of history that is generally unknown. Ryan Vincent Anderson is a tour de force in this interesting and engaging biographical play. I was so pulled in by the performance, the fact that the set consisted of only a foot stool is only occurring to me now. The lighting was a bit low for my taste; but other than that, great show!... full review
KAREN ZUMSTEG certified reviewer June 18, 2015
Highly recommend this interesting and inspiring story about Ira Aldridge, born a free man in New York City in 1807, and later to become the first black actor to portray Othello on the London stage. Brilliantly penned by Rick Creese and deftly performed by Ryan Vincent Anderson, to call this show "one-person" is a misnomer. Yes, Anderson is the only actor credited in the program, but the characters he embodies include not just the impassioned Aldridge as narrator and in his many stage roles, but family, friends, mentors, his English bride, critics, and a brief but disturbing turn as a Southern slave owner who attempts to buy Aldridge early on. Anderson and director Jeffrey Wienckowski have discovered imaginative ways to physicalize not on... full review
ELLEN DOSTAL certified reviewer 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
CHARLES ZIARKO certified reviewer June 22, 2015
I was waiting in line for another show a week ago when the small but utterly enthusiastic audience for this one emerged, raving about Ira Aldridge (the subject) and Ryan Vincent Anderson (the star). When I returned to see it for myself I understood why! The Life Story of Aldridge (now almost TWO hundred years past) is amazing, well-researched and well-written, and Ryan Vincent Anderson does him full justice! Indeed, I'd be happy to see it again---especially if it was extended from one hour to 90 minutes, or even longer, so that more detail about Ira's life could be included AND so that the star could do more extensive snippets of the classics for which he became famous! One of the real jewels of this year's Fringe Fest, it deserves a longer... full review
KYLA GARCIA certified reviewer June 25, 2015
I loved this show! Wonderfully written and excellently performed by Ryan Vincent Anderson. I learned so much about the legendary Ira Aldridge through Anderson's raw, brave, grounded, yet emotionally explosive performance. I was fascinated and inspired by the history and reminded just how much of a privilege it is to perform onstage…especially when diverse artists like Aldridge had to fight so hard for their place in the performing arts. I loved how Aldridge was played not as a superhero or perfect role model, but as an actual flawed human being with so many challenges of his own in addition to his bright, shining talents and wisdom. I also felt that although it took place in the 1800s, it was so relevant today, especially in light of o... full review
MICHAEL HAMMOND certified reviewer June 17, 2015
tagged as: brilliant · well acted
This show is great. From the acting by Ryan Vincent Anderson to the writing to the direction, it's top notch. What's brilliant about this production is that you don't need to know anything about it before you walk in the theater - the show takes you on a journey for 60 minutes and exposes you to a new story that very few people will know. Which makes it exciting. ... full review