Embassy and Łódź Honor the Life of African-American Shakespearean Actor Ira Aldridge

In early November, the US Embassy joined celebrations organized by the University of Łódż to honor the life and accomplishments of the African-American Shakespearean Actor Ira Aldridge who died while performing in Łódż 150 years ago.  Born in New York City, Aldridge was an American and later British stage actor and playwright who achieved acclaim on the London stage and in Europe, especially in Shakespearean roles.  Aldridge is the only actor of African-American descent among the 33 actors of the English stage honored with bronze plaques at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon.  An intrepid pioneer throughout his life and travels that included performing for the Russian and Prussian imperial courts, Aldridge frequently used the end of his plays to decry slavery and call for its abolition.  The University of Łódż organized the celebrations which included a symposium, an exhibition devoted to Aldridge’s life, and a film screening of the American play “For Your Freedom and Ours.”  Actors from the United Kingdom and United States, including the famous American TV star and director Ted Lange, participated in the commemoration events, as did university faculty and citizens from the United States dedicated to promoting awareness and preserving the legacy of Aldridge’s fascinating life, accomplishments and efforts to abolish slavery.