The Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company has announced that Red Velvet starring Adrian Lester will be the third play in the inaugural Plays at the Garrick season. The production, which originally premiered at the Tricycle Theatre in 2012 before transferring to St Ann’s Warehouse in New York in 2014, will play at the Garrick Theatre from 23 January until 27 February 2016. Red Velvet is written by Lolita Chakrabarti with direction by Indhu Rubasingham.
Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, 1833. Edmund Kean, the greatest actor of his generation, has collapsed on stage whilst playing Othello. A young black American actor has been asked to take over the role. But as the public riot in the streets over the abolition of slavery, how will the cast, critics and audience react to the revolution taking place in the theatre?
Kenneth Branagh said:
“Writing, direction and performance are exceptional in Red Velvet. I’m immensely proud to be presenting this work. I was aware of its development from its inception and believe Lolita Chakrabarti has written an important and exhilarating play which in its discussion of performance, politics, and race is as entertaining as it is illuminating.”
Lolita Chakrabarti said: “I am delighted that Red Velvet is continuing its extraordinary journey. From its beginnings at The Tricycle Theatre to its transfer to New York, it’s been a wonderful experience and we can’t wait to bring Ira Aldridge back to London’s West End.”
Adrian Lester said: “Getting Ira’s story to the stage has been a labour of love for us. The fact that we now get to tell that story in the West End and in such illustrious company is fantastic.”
Indhu Rubasingham said: “Red Velvet was my first production as Artistic Director at the Tricycle. It has a very special place in my heart as it had been a long time in the making with the playwright Lolita Chakrabarti and Adrian Lester. It has been an honour to celebrate Ira Aldridge and it is a great privilege and a real joy to be able to bring this production back and to be part of the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company season.”
Lolita Chakrabarti is an award-winning playwright and actress. Red Velvet earned her the Charles Wintour Evening Standard Award and the Critics Circle Award in 2012 after it opened at the Tricycle Theatre. Lolita’s previous stage credits include Last Seen – Joy (Almeida Theatre). Lolita trained as an actress at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and has carved out an innovative, long running career. Her work as an actress for the past twenty five years spans both stage and screen. She has appeared in a string of recent television dramas including J K Rowling’s A Casual Vacancy, My Mad Fat Diary 3, and she can be seen later this year guest starring in the forthcoming Jekyll and Hyde. January will also see Lolita as blacksmith Lila in the epic new ITV drama Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands. Lolita co-founded Lesata Productions with Rosa Maggiora. Together they produced Of Mary, a twenty-minute short film, directed by Adrian Lester. It was selected for numerous international short film festivals and was awarded Best Short Film at PAFF, Los Angeles 2012. Lolita and Rosa were nominated for Best Producers at Underwire, London 2011. She is currently writing a new play, a first feature film and developing original television.
Award-winning actor and director Adrian Lester OBE started his career with a string of successful West End productions including Fences, Six Degrees Of Separation, As You Like It and Company before landing the lead role in Mike Nichol’s movie Primary Colors. Other movie credits since include The Day After Tomorrow, Maybe Baby, Born Romantic, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Dust, Final Curtain, Doomsday, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Starting Out in the Evening, As You Like It and Case 39. Adrian is also well known for his TV work including playing ‘Mickey Bricks’ in the long running BBC1 series Hustle, with other TV credits including When Romeo Met Juliet, Merlin, Sleep with Me, Ghost Squad, Being Human, Bonekickers and the US series Red Band Society and Girlfriends. He has appeared on stage as Henry V and Othello at the National Theatre, played Peter Brook’s Hamlet at the Bouffes Du Nord and starred in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in London’s West End. Awards include the Evening Standard Theatre Award 2013 for Best Actor for Othello, the Critics Circle Award 2012 for Best Actor for Red Velvet and an Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical for Company. After directing his first short film Of Mary in 2011, which premiered at the Raindance Film Festival and was awarded best short at PAFF in Los Angeles in the same year, Adrian directed (Ep2) of the final series of Hustle (BBC1). Adrian has recently completed filming movies Grey Lady and Breakable You. He is currently filming the lead role in Undercover, a new 6 part drama for BBC1 and AMC, due for transmission spring 2016 and will guest star in the forthcoming BBC drama London Spy.
Indhu Rubasingham has been the Artistic Director of the Tricycle Theatre since 2012. Productions as Artistic Director include: Red Velvet (Evening Standard Award and Critics’ Circle Award), A Wolf in Snakeskin Shoes, Multitudes, The House That Will Not Stand, Handbagged (Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre, West End transfer 2014, UK tour 2015) and Paper Dolls.
Indhu also recently directed The Motherf**cker with the Hat (National Theatre). Other selected directing credits include: Women, Power and Politics, Stones in His Pockets, Detaining Justice, The Great Game: Afghanistan, Fabulation and Starstruck (Tricycle); Belong, Disconnect, Free Outgoing, the Evening Standard Award-winning Lift Off, Clubland, The Crutch and Sugar Mummies (Royal Court); Pulitzer Prize-winning play Ruined (Almeida); Yellowman and Pulitzer Prizewinning Anna in the Tropics (Hampstead Theatre); The Waiting Room (National Theatre); The Ramayana (National Theatre/Birmingham Rep); Secret Rapture and The Misanthrope (Minerva, Chichester), Romeo and Juliet (Festival Theatre, Chichester), Pure Gold (Soho Theatre); The No Boys Cricket Club and Party Girls (Stratford East); Wuthering Heights (Birmingham Rep); Heartbreak House (Watford Palace); Sugar Dollies, Shakuntala (Gate); A River Sutra (Three Mill Island Studios); Rhinoceros (UC Davis, California) and A Doll’s House (Young Vic).
The Winter’s Tale, Harlequinade / All On Her Own, Red Velvet, The Painkiller, Romeo and Juliet and The Entertainer make up the inaugural seven play season of work for the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company.
The Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company, in partnership with Picturehouse Entertainment, will broadcast three productions of its year-long Plays at the Garrick season live to cinemas worldwide. The first Branagh Theatre Live production will be The Winter’s Tale at 19:00 on Thursday 26 November 2015.
Broadcast dates for Romeo and Juliet and The Entertainer will be announced on the day of the preceding production’s broadcast. Participating cinemas can be found at branaghtheatrelive.com