Red Velvet
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Red Velvet

Lolita Chakrabarti

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eBook - ePub

Red Velvet

Lolita Chakrabarti

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About This Book

"Chakrabarti has crafted a rich psychological study that's also a shrewd portrait of the theatre as an institution - its vanities and strange conventions, its politics and sense of community, the opportunities it presents for both progress and blinkered traditionalism." Evening Standard Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, 1833. Edmund Kean, the greatest actor of his generation, has collapsed on stage while 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? Based on the true story of Ira Aldridge, an African-American actor who, in the 19th century, built an incredible reputation around the world. Red Velvet premiered at the Tricycle Theatre, London, in October 2012. This new Modern Classics edition features an introduction by Kenneth Branagh.

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Methuen Drama
Scene One
A theatre dressing room, Lodz, Poland, 1867. Evening.
An opulent room – all gilt and velvet. The room is dark. We see a dressing table with a lamp. A chaise longue and a mirror. A costume dummy next to a silk screen. There is a large trunk nearby. It is raining outside.
The main door opens and Casimir, German, 20s, enters. He hides in the shadows. A woman follows him in, they shouldn’t be here. This is Halina, 20s, Polish. She closes the door.
Halina Casimir? Casimir. Mach keinen Unsinn. Wo bist Du?
[Casimir? . . . Casimir, don’t mess around . . . where are you?]
Casimir Buh!
She jumps.
Halina Mein Gott! Du bist ja furchtbar!
[Oh my god! You’re terrible.]
Casimir Und Du bist suess.
[And you’re lovely.]
Halina Schau mal dieses Zimmer an . . .
[Look at this room . . .]
Casimir Lieber wuerde ich Dich angucken.
[I’d rather look at you.]
Halina Es ist hier furchtbar still.
[It’s very quiet in here.]
He kisses her. She stumbles back. He catches her.
Casimir Achtung.
Halina Tut mir leid, ich bin so ungeschickt. Was ist denn da drin?
[Sorry, I’m so clumsy. What’s in here?]
She goes to the trunk and tries to open it but can’t.
Casimir Kostueme, wahrscheinlich. Und Zubehoer.
[Costumes probably. Personal props.]
Halina Du kennst Dich aber gut aus.
[You know everything.]
Casimir Und Du duftest nach Erdbeeren.
[And you smell of strawberries.]
He goes to kiss her again. A loud thud outside the door makes Casimir and Halina jump. They hide.
The door swings opens and Terence, white, English, 50s, enters with a vanity case, a biscuit box under his arm, dragging a large, heavy suitcase.
Halina and Casimir freeze. Terence does not see them.
Terence For goodness sake . . .
He stumbles into the room lugging the case. He removes his wet coat and hangs it up.
Terence The red or the brocade, it’s not a hard decision. But give a king a choice . . . My own bloody fault.
As his eyes adjust he edges to the dressing table.
Terence And if it’s Lear why bring Shylock? O for a muse of logic. My back feels twice my age.
He puts the vanity case and biscuit box down and finds the lamp. He opens the vanity case, brings out two birthday cards and a box of matches. He lights the lamp. Casimir edges silently to the door and motions to Halina who ignores him. Terence sees them.
Terence Oh my giddy . . . ! You frightened the life out of me . . . What on earth are you doing in here?
Casimir Verzeihung, mein Herr . . . Wir haben uns verirrt. Verzeihung, bitte. Wir gehen schon.
[So sorry, sir . . . We got lost, I’m so sorry . . . we’re going now.]
Terence Who gave you permission to . . .?
Halina Good evening . . . I’m from the Lodz Times . . .
Terence I beg your pardon?
Casimir Was hast Du gerade gesagst?
[What are you saying?]
Halina I’m from top Polish paper, Lodz . . .
Terence I’m sorry how did you get in here?
Halina Casimir was giving me tour . . .
Terence A tour . . .?
Casimir Du sprichst Englisch?
[You speak English?]
Halina Mr Aldridge is here?
Terence These are private rooms. Now if you don’t mind . . .
Terence marches to the door and opens it for them to leave.
Casimir moves, Halina does not.
Halina I wrote an appointment. So I am here.
Terence All interviews were cancelled . . .
Casimir Ich verstehe nicht, was sie sagt, aber ich . . .
[I don’t understand what she’s saying but I’m . . .]
Terence This is absolutely unacceptable . . .
Halina Mr Aldridge . . . is . . . is being ill?
Terence Who told you that?
Casimir Was sagst Du jetzt?
[What are you talking about?]
Halina He’s been in Lodz ten days . . .
Casimir Er scheint mir recht zornig.
[He’s looking really annoyed.]
Terence A chest cold, nothing more . . . Show her out. Get-her-out.
Casimir takes her arm, she shrugs him off. Terence lays the suitcase down and starts to open it.
Casimir Wir sollten gehen.
[We have to go.]
Halina A few questions, no problem.
Terence . . . Show her out the same way you showed her in.
Casimir Das war nicht meine Absicht. Ich hatte keine Ahnung, dass sie . . . Verzeihung, mein Herr . . .
[I didn’t mean to. I had no idea that she . . . I’m so sorry, sir . . .]
Ira (off stage) Terence! Terence!
Terence For pity’s sake! . . . Get out now!
Terence motions them out. Halina does not move.
Terence You’ve no idea, no idea . . .
Ira (off stage) Why is there no one to meet me! Where the devil . . .!
Terence God help me!
Terence rushes out.
Ira (off stage) Get this...

Table of contents

Citation styles for Red Velvet
APA 6 Citation
Chakrabarti, L. (2020). Red Velvet (1st ed.). Bloomsbury Publishing. Retrieved from (Original work published 2020)
Chicago Citation
Chakrabarti, Lolita. (2020) 2020. Red Velvet. 1st ed. Bloomsbury Publishing.
Harvard Citation
Chakrabarti, L. (2020) Red Velvet. 1st edn. Bloomsbury Publishing. Available at: (Accessed: 14 October 2022).
MLA 7 Citation
Chakrabarti, Lolita. Red Velvet. 1st ed. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020. Web. 14 Oct. 2022.