Local Good News: Memphis Actor's Work Showcased In Poland

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - A Memphis actor's work was recently showcased in Poland. Local 24 anchor Katina Rankin sat down with Delvyn Brown to talk about his one-man show. 

Brown says he's trying to shed some light on history while also showcasing the Bluff city in a positive light. It's local good news.

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

Brown is talking about actor Ira Aldrdige. Aldridge was the first black 18th Century American to play Shakespearean roles from Macbeth and King Lear to, of course, Othello.

"It's almost like I feel him. Everything that he went through in his life: rejections, ups and downs, obstacles, noes and yeses, I feel all of that," said Brown.

To escape from being sold into slavery, Aldridge left the U.S. He went to Britain and became an actor. There is a plaque of him at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon to recognize his work. Poland even honored his memory and legacy.

Now, enter Memphis, TN. Southwest Community College's Levi Frazier wrote a one-man play about Aldridge and his life. Then 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 Brown performing Ira Aldridge. 

"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 Polish-American Society of America President Dr. Jacek Dutkiewicz.

Jacek began not only researching Aldridge and his grandfather in Poland, and found out his mother's father was also an actor, and was buried in the cemetery next to Aldridge, which he says shows how tolerant the cultures were and still are. 

"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.

And so, talks began to show the work of two Memphian's work in Poland, where Aldridge and Jacek's grandfather are buried, and to prove that 150 years later there is still a willingness of two cultures to work together on a big stage.

"This is a representation for my city. I want to represent as a whole as being a positive force to do good," said Brown.

And that's local good news.

CLICK HERE to watch the one-man show.


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