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February – March, 2014
«Ira Aldridge - Kobzar’s American Friend» a library events series to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Taras Shevchenko – the great Ukrainian poet.
The Dnipropetrovsk WOA Centre's an informative slide show was presented to the groups. It reminded the students the basic facts of Shevchenko’s biography with the focus on his talent of a portrait painter. This allowed to introduced to the students the personality of Ira Aldridge who ordered a portrait by Taras Shevchenko.
Ira Aldridge gained fame in the 19th century as one of the most prominent African-American Shakespearian actors and the first American actor to perform in Russia.
Unable to obtain major roles in the United States because of his race, he was forced to emigrate to further his acting career. Arriving in England in 1824, on October 10, 1825, he debuted as the first black actor at London's Royal Coburg Theatre.
In 1858 Aldridge made a tour of Russia and was introduced to Shevchenko in St. Petersburg. The memoirs of the witnesses informed us about the friendly atmosphere set in Shevchenko’s studio during Aldridge’s posing sessions. The painting by L. Picard illustrated the moment of friendly communication between two talented people with sad background of slavery and serfdom.
The unknown fact of friendship between the American and Ukrainian geniuses impressed the audience. The students enriched their vocabulary with new art terms, examined Shevchenko’s paintings and appreciated the art talent of the iconic Ukrainian poet.