Local Good News: Local Actor's Work In Poland Leads Another Memphian To Discover New Family Facts

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - Last week in Local Good News, we told you about a Memphis man's acting being shown in Poland. Well, Local 24 Anchor Katina Rankin learned that show helped a Polish-American man living in Memphis find out interesting facts about his own grandfather. It's local good news.

Actor Ira Aldridge was the first Black 18th century American to play Shakespearean roles from MacBeth and King Lear to, of course, Othello. It was an interesting sight for Europe.

"African-American quite unusual in Europe. But, he was received as a great, great actor and so much appreciated. What happened 150 years ago during the rehearsal of Othello, he passed away in Ludz," said President of Polish American Society of America, Dr. Jacek Dutkiewicz.

Southwest Community College's Levi Frazier wrote a one man play about Aldridge and his life. In 2015 Memphis in May's International Festival featured Poland as its honored country, and someone from the Polish-American Society heard about Frazier's play and actor Delvyn Brown performing Ira Aldridge.

"I could not believe my eyes. Negroes performing and performing Shakespeare," recited Actor Delvyn Brown.

That play, which was recently seen in Poland, made the president of the Polish-American Society of America, Jacek Dutkiewicz, begin to trace his own roots in Poland, which led him to his grandfather, whom he discovered was also an actor just like Aldridge. Plus, the two were buried in cemeteries next to each other.

"In one cemetery, one for Ira Aldridge - the Lutherans, next to this is another which is Catholic, where my folks are buried, then you have Russian Orthodox and Jewish," said Dutkiewicz.

Jacek says the cemetery shows how tolerant the cultures were back then, and with Brown performing his one man show in Poland, how tolerant the cultures continue to be. And that's local good news.

 


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