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Calendar: Dec. 21-Jan. 10, 2018-2019

Dance parties, support groups, Christmas events and more through the holidays and beyond

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gay events dc holidays 2018, gay news, Washington Blade

‘A Charlie Brown Christmas Ice” exhibit is open now through Jan. 1 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. (Photo courtesy Gaylord)

Friday, Dec. 21

The D.C. Eagle (3701 Benning Rd., N.E.) hosts Pup Night tonight from 8 p.m.-3 a.m. Puppies and handlers are welcome. There will be a large mosh area for play. Kibble and drink specials run all night. Attendees must be 18 to enter and 21 to drink. The drag show begins upstairs at 10:30 p.m. For more details, visit dceagle.com.

The D.C. Eagle (3701 Benning Rd., N.E.) also hosts “The War on Christmas,” a holiday dance party, today from noon-3 a.m. DJ IcyFunk will spin tracks. Free entry before midnight. $5 cover after midnight. For more information, visit dceagle.com.

XX+Crostino (1926 9th St., N.W.) hosts Cuddles and Coco today from 5 p.m.-2:30 a.m. There will be a variety of hot coco, spiked eggnog, Christmas cookies and s’mores. “The Grinch” and two other movies of the crowd’s choosing will be screened. Guests are encouraged to bring a bean bag and blankets. Pillows will be provided. For more details, visit facebook.com/xxcrostino.

D.C. Bear Crue hosts Bear Happy Hour at Uproar Lounge & Restaurant (639 Florida Ave., N.W.) this evening from 5-10 p.m. Drink specials include $5 rail cocktails and $5 draft pitchers of Bud Light and Shock Top. Free appetizers will be handed out all night. For more details, visit facebook.com/bearhappyhour.

Macy Gray performs at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper cLUB (7719 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, Md.) tonight at 8 p.m. The singer/songwriter with the signature raspy voice will perform songs from her newest album “Ruby.” Tickets range from $67-87. There is a $20 food and beverage minimum per person not included in the ticket price. For more information, visit bethesdabluesjazz.com.

The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) hosts holiday game night tonight from 7-9 p.m. There will be card and board games provided but attendees are invited to bring their own games to share. For more details, visit thedccenter.org.

Saturday, Dec. 22

Black Cat (1811 14th St., N.W.) hosts Robyn vs. Gaga Dance Party tonight at 9:30 p.m. The venue will only play Lady Gaga and Robyn’s hits, remixes, collaborations and deep tracks all night. Tickets are $10. For more details, visit blackcatdc.com.

The National Museum of American History (14th St. and Constitution Ave., N.W.) screens “Die Hard” for one day only today from 3-5 p.m. Tickets range from $6-10. For more information, visit si.edu/imax/movie.

The D.C. Center volunteers at Food and Friends (219 Riggs Rd., N.E.) today from 10 a.m.-noon. The group will help prepare meals to people living with HIV, cancer and other life challenging illnesses. Duties may include peeling, dicing, portioning, sorting, bagging, labeling and more. For more details, visit thedccenter.org.

The National Symphony Orchestra performs “Handel’s Messiah” at the Kennedy Center (2700 F St., N.W.) tonight at 8 p.m. The show will be conducted by Nicholas McGegan. Tickets range from $15-99. For more information, visit kennedy-center.org.

Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center (201 Waterfront St., National Harbor, Md.) presents “A Charlie Brown Christmas. ICE” today through Jan. 1. Charlie Brown rediscovers the meaning of Christmas through two million pounds of ice sculptures and displays. Attractions in the indoor winter wonderland include the depiction of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and the full nativity scene carved out of ice. Adult tickets are $32 and child ticket are $24. For more details, visit gaylordnationaltickets.com.

Sunday, Dec. 23

Nellie’s Sports Bar (900 U St., N.W.) has a drag brunch today with shows at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Drag entertainers will perform as Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Pink and more. Tickets are $41.91 and include an all-you-can-eat buffet and one mimosa or bloody mary. Performers include Chanel Devereaux, Alexiya-nycole Davenport, Chicki Parm, LaBellela Ziah and Sapphire Ardwick Ardmore-Blue. For more details, visit nelliessportsbar.com.

Downtown Holiday Market’s last day is today from noon-8 p.m. in the center of 8th and F Streets, N.W. The market offers hundreds of gift items such as jewelry, pottery, paintings and more sold by more than 150 regional artisans. There is also live music and food and drink vendors. For more information, visit downtownholidaymarket.com.

Monday, Dec. 24

AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center (8633 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring, Md.) screens “It’s a Wonderful Life” today at 1:45 and 6:45 p.m. The film will be shown in new 4K restoration The 1:45 p.m. showing will include a book event with Jeremy Arnold author of Turner Classic Movies’ “Christmas in the Movies: 30 Classics to Celebrate the Season. “ Tickets range from $5-13. For more information, visit silver.afi.com.

Tuesday, Dec. 25

The Yards D.C. (301 Water St., S.E.) presents Light Yards tonight from 6-10 p.m. This event includes outdoor public light art installations including worldwide traveling light installations “The Pool” by Jen Lewin Studio and “Angels of Freedom” by OGE Group. On “The Pool,” visitors can hop, skip and jump on 106 interactive circular pads of light. “Angels of Freedom” turns visitors into angels when they pose in front of five giant, neon-colored wings and white halos. Admission is free. For more details, visit theyardsdc.com.

Wednesday, Dec. 26

Freddie’s Beach Bar Bar (555 23rd St. S, Arlington, Va.) hosts Beach Blanket Drag Bingo  tonight from 8-10 p.m. Entry is free and there will be prizes. After bingo, there will be karaoke. Ms. Regina Jozet Adams, Ophelia Bottoms and Ashlee Jozet Adams host the event. For more information, visit facebook.com/freddiesbeachbararlington.

Anita Baker performs at MGM National Harbot (101 MGM National Ave., Oxon Hill, Md.) tonight at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $95-350. For more details, visit mgmnationalharbor.com.

Thursday, Dec. 27

Le Kon Restaurant (3227 Washington Blvd., Arlington, Va) hosts its weekly Pride Night today at 6 p.m. Fifteen percent of all bar proceeds will be donated to NOVA Pride. For more information, visit facebook.com/lekonrestaurant.

Friday, Dec. 28

XX+Crostino (1926 9th St., N.W.) hosts “Get On Bad: Holiday Fete,” a queer dance party, tonight from 10 p.m.-1 a.m. DJ Elle Groove will spin Soca, dancehall and afro-beats. There will be food and drink specials. Free admission. For more details, visit facebook.com/xxcrostino.

Gamma D.C., a support group for men in mixed-orientation relationships, meets at Luther Place Memorial Church (1226 Vermont Ave., N.W.) today from 7:30-9:30 p.m. The group is for men who are attracted to men but are or were in relationships with women. For more information about the group and location, visit gammaindc.org

Saturday, Dec. 29

U Street Music Hall (1115 U St., N.W.) hosts “U Sleaze Holiday Party” tonight from 10 p.m.- 3 a.m. Diyanna Monet, Lemz and Kennan Orr will perform. Jane Saw hosts the party. Admission is $5 in advance and $10 after midnight. For more information, visit ustreetmusichall.com.

Queer Girl Movie Night hosts its Holigay edition at Black Cat D.C. (1811 14th St., N.W.) tonight from 8-11 p.m. The group will screen “Disobedience” starring Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the screening starts at 8:30 p.m. For more details, visit facebook.com/queergrrrlmovienight.

Sunday, Dec. 30

Hempen Hill BBQ (13208 Fountain Head Plaza, Hagerstown, Md.) hosts a holiday drag brunch today from 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Nicole James, Stephanie Michaels, Chi Chi Ray Colby, Sasha Renee, Ashley Bannks and Chasity Vain will perform. Araya Sparxx hosts. Tickets include brunch buffet and two drink tickets. Tickets are $35 for adults and $25 for children under two. For more details, visit hempenhillbbq.com.

Flash (645 Florida Ave., N.W.) hosts Flashy Holiday Edition tonight from 8 p.m.-2 a.m. DJ Twin and DJ Sean Morris will spin tracks. Admission is free. For more information, visit facebook.com/flashydc.

Monday, Dec. 31

The Yards D.C. (301 Water St., S.E.) presents Light Yards tonight from 6-10 p.m. This event includes outdoor public light art installations including worldwide traveling light installations “The Pool” by Jen Lewin Studio and “Angels of Freedom” by OGE Group. On “The Pool,” visitors can hop, skip and jump on 106 interactive circular pads of light. “Angels of Freedom” turns visitors into angels when they pose in front of five giant, neon-colored wings and white halos. Admission is free. Light Yards runs through Jan. 5. For more details, visit theyardsdc.com.

Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019

Shaw’s Tavern (520 Florida Ave., N.W.) hosts New Years Day Drag Brunch today from 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. Kristina Kelly and her Ladies of Illusion will perform. Seating will be from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 2-4 p.m. For reservations, email [email protected].

Wednesday, Jan. 2

Freddie’s Beach Bar Bar (555 23rd St. S, Arlington, Va.) hosts Beach Blanket Drag Bingo  tonight from 8-10 p.m. Entry is free and there will be prizes. After bingo, there will be karaoke. Ms. Regina Jozet Adams, Ophelia Bottoms and Ashlee Jozet Adams host the event. For more information, visit facebook.com/freddiesbeachbararlington.

Thursday, Jan. 3

The D.C. Eagle (3701 Benning Rd., N.E.) hosts Blackout Thursdays tonight from 9 p.m.-3 a.m. This is a party with no lights. Guys in gear receive $3 rail drinks or domestic beers. For more details, visit dceagle.com.

Friday, Jan. 4

Go Gay D.C. hosts a Friday happy hour social at the Pinzimini lounge in Westin Arlington Gateway (801 N Glebe Rd., Arlington, Va.) tonight from 6-9 p.m. All are welcome. No cover. For more details, visit gogaydc.org.

Gay District meets at the D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) tonight from 8:30-9:30 p.m. The facilitated group discussion covers building understanding of gay culture and personal identity and awareness of community events for LGBT men between the ages of 18-35 in the D.C. area. For more details, visit gaydistrict.org.

Saturday, Jan. 5

OutWrite presents Unspeakable Crimes: LGBTQ Mystery Writing at East City Bookshop (645 Pennsylvania Ave., S.E.) today from 6-8 p.m. There will be selected readings from Brenda Buchanan, John Copenhaver and Cheryl Head. Sherry Harris from Sisters of Crime will moderate. For more information, visit thedccenter.org/events/unspeakable.

The D.C. Eagle (3701 Benning Rd., N.E.) hosts Daddy, a men’s jock and underwear party, tonight 8 p.m.-4 a.m. DJ Strike Walton Stone and DJ Dean Douglas will play music. Bryan Thompson will go-go dance for the night. General admission tickets are $10. VIP meet-and-greet tickets are available. For more details, visit dceagle.com.

Sunday, Jan. 6

The fifth edition of Glow in Georgetown holds its finale night tonight from 5-10 p.m. The light-art exhibit features installations from numerous artists set up throughout the neighborhood. The event is free and open to the public. There are also a number of walking tours attendees can choose from that incorporate the light art as well as other information such as historical facts about Georgetown or photography lessons. For more information, visit georgetownglowdc.com.

Monday, Jan. 7

The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) hosts coffee drop-in hours for the senior LGBT community this morning from 10 a.m.-noon. Older LGBT adults can come and enjoy complimentary coffee and conversation with other community members. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

Tuesday, Jan. 8

Republic (6939 Laurel Ave., Takoma Park, Md.) hosts Alegre Happy Hour, an LGBT happy hour, this evening from 5-7 p.m. For more information, visit republictakoma.com.

The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) hosts its trans support group tonight from 7-8:30 p.m. The group is meant to provide an emotional and physical safe space for transgender individuals and those questioning their gender identity. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) hosts a coming-out discussion group tonight at 7 p.m. This peer-peer-facilitated discussion will open the conversation about coming out experiences. All are welcome. For details, visit thedccenter.org.

Wednesday, Jan. 9

D.C. Fray Softball hosts Men Seeking Men Speed Dating at Grand Central (2447 18th St., N.W.) tonight at 7 p.m. This happy hour speed dating event is for local, single men in their 20s and 30s. Extended happy hour specials run until 10 p.m. There will also be a chance to win raffle prizes. D.C. Fray staff will guide the experience. Participants must be 21 and over. For more information, visit dcfray.com to register.

Thursday, Jan. 10

OutWrite presents its inaugural Queer Book Club in the lounge of the D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) tonight at 7 p.m. The group will discuss “Dodging and Burning” by John Carpenter. All are welcome. For more details, visit thedccenter.org.

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Movies

Dorian Awards cast a queer eye on television

Netflix favorite ‘Heartstopper’ nabs three nominations

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Kit Conner and Joe Locke in ‘Heartstopper.’ (Photo courtesy Netflix)

As Hollywood gears up for the year’s second “Awards Season” ahead of July 12’s scheduled announcement of the 2022 Emmy nominations, it seems only fitting for us to bring some attention to another awards organization that has already dropped its picks for the year’s best in TV content. We’re referring, of course, to the Dorian Awards, which have been bestowed by the Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics since 2009. 

If you’ve never heard of the Dorians, that’s not surprising. In keeping with the entertainment industry’s frustratingly persistent skittishness when it comes to All Things Queer, the Dorians haven’t gotten much attention in the mainstream press – though with a 385-member voting body and a scandal-free history, they are arguably more reputable than the Golden Globes. Named in honor of iconic queer writer Oscar Wilde (as a reference to his novel “The Picture of Dorian Gray”), they are admittedly low profile when it comes to glitz and glamour, handing out their prizes at an annual “Winner’s Toast” day party instead of a formal evening affair. Nevertheless, they’ve gained traction as Hollywood’s attitudes toward LGBTQ inclusion and representation have shifted, and each of their two annual ceremonies – one for TV, one for film, held about six months apart – draw an increasing number of A-listers to participate, both as nominees and presenters; and while the Dorians may not hold the level of prestige enjoyed by some of the industry’s other awards, at least we can be sure their voting membership won’t overlook queer shows and talent as often as their counterparts at the Motion Picture and Television Academies.

That doesn’t mean the Dorians are exclusively focused on LGBTQ content. The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics – formerly known as the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, or GALECA – explicitly states that its awards are to honor “the best in film and TV, mainstream to queer+”, while calling attention to the importance of queer contribution and sensibility within the wider culture and reminding “bullies, bigots, and our own at-risk youth that the world loves the sly Q eye on entertainment.” With some state governments and the SCOTUS itself dedicating themselves an all-out assault on the LGBTQ community and its hard-won rights, that last point seems particularly resonant; with so much homo- and transphobic hate pouring its efforts into erasing us, our visibility is more crucial than ever.

Fortunately, as the slate of Dorian nominees announced by GALECA on June 22 reveals, the queer presence on television is strong. No longer segregated to a “niche” genre, the LGBTQ community has finally begun to appear on our screens as it does in life – blended, alongside everyone else, into a world that has room for us all. That’s what ideal inclusion looks like, and it’s heartening – especially now – to see that it has become the norm in so much of the industry’s best offerings.

This year, HBO leads the pack in terms of nods. Two of its heavily queer-inclusive shows, “Hacks” and “Somebody Somewhere,” received five nominations each, while “Euphoria” and “The White Lotus” snagged 4 and 3, respectively. In total, the cable-and-streaming giant got 24, with an additional 13 for programming exclusively on HBO Max, bringing the total to 37.

Coming in second with less than half that number is Netflix. Among its 15 nominations are three nods for “Heartstopper,” the runaway queer fan favorite based on a sweet UK webcomic about two schoolboys in love, and two each for Natasha Lyonne’s brain-twisting time travel dramedy “Russian Doll” and the already-award-winning Korean thriller “Squid Game.”

New series scored high among Dorian voters this year. Besides “Heartstopper” and “Somebody Somewhere,” ABC’s “Abbott Elementary,” Showtime’s “Yellow Jackets,” and Apple TV+’s “Severance” each received multiple nominations, with many other freshman titles picking up individual nods.

As for the awards themselves, the Dorians feature fewer overall categories – instead of being split into “gendered” divisions, actors of all genders compete for a single award in each category – and set themselves apart by striking a mildly tongue-in-cheek pose in the presentation of its “special” accolades. In presenting awards like Campiest TV Show or the brand new “You Deserve an Award” award, the Dorians give a tip of the lavender hat to the tradition of Wildean wit at their back – but they also assert the importance of queer perspective when it comes to taste-making and the aesthetic arts.

Nominees for the 14th Annual Dorian TV Awards (honoring shows which debuted June 1, 2021-May 31, 2022) are listed below. Winners will be revealed on Wednesday, Aug. 12.

BEST TV DRAMA: “Better Call Saul”; “Heartstopper”; “Yellowjackets”; “Severance”; “Succession”

BEST TV COMEDY: “Abbott Elementary”; “Barry”; “Hacks”; “The Other Two”; “Our Flag Means Death”

BEST LGBTQ SHOW: “Hacks”; “Heartstopper”; “The Other Two”; “Our Flag Means Death”; “Somebody Somewhere”; “RuPaul’s Drag Race”

BEST TV MOVIE OR MINISERIES: “Dopesick”; “The Dropout”; “Midnight Mass”; “Station Eleven”; “The White Lotus”

BEST NON-ENGLISH LANGUAGE TV SHOW: “Elite”; “Lupin”; “My Brilliant Friend”; “Pachinko”; “Squid Game”

BEST UNSUNG SHOW: “Better Things”; “The Other Two”; “Our Flag Means Death”; “Russian Doll”; “Somebody Somewhere”; “We Are Lady Parts”

BEST TV PERFORMANCE: Quinta Brunson (“Abbott Elementary”); Kit Connor (“Heartstopper”); Bridget Everett (“Somebody Somewhere”); Bill Hader (“Barry”); Lily James (“Pam & Tommy”); Natasha Lyonne (“Russian Doll”); Melanie Lynskey (“Yellowjackets”); Amanda Seyfried (“The Dropout”); Jean Smart (“Hacks”); Zendaya (“Euphoria”)

BEST SUPPORTING TV PERFORMANCE: Murray Bartlett (“The White Lotus”); Anthony Carrigan (“Barry”); Jennifer Coolidge (“The White Lotus”); Hannah Einbinder (“Hacks”); Jeff Hiller (“Somebody Somewhere”); Janelle James (“Abbott Elementary”); Matthew Macfadyen (“Succession”); Christina Ricci (“Yellowjackets”); Rhea Seehorn (“Better Call Saul”); Sydney Sweeney (“Euphoria”)

BEST TV MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: Beyonce, “HYPERLINK “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aeDlZOD-B0″Be Alive” (94th Academy Awards); Kristin Chenoweth and cast, “HYPERLINK “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PmS5JIfSkk”Tribulation” (“Schmigadoon!”); Bridget Everett and Jeff Hiller, “HYPERLINK “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=As-a_bzFrl0″Don’t Give Up” (“Somebody Somewhere”); Jean Smart, “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman” (“Hacks”); Cecily Strong and cast, “HYPERLINK “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dj5mJGyoYIM”Corn Puddin’” (“Schmigadoon!”); Hannah Waddingham and cast, “HYPERLINK “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4B0HktX4xqQ”Never Gonna Give You Up” (“Ted Lasso”)

BEST TV DOCUMENTARY OR DOCUMENTARY SERIES: “The Andy Warhol Diaries”; “The Beatles: Get Back”; “How to with John Wilson”; “Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known”; “We Need to Talk About Cosby”

BEST CURRENT AFFAIRS PROGRAM: “The Amber Ruffin Show”; “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah”; “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee”; “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”; “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”; “The Rachel Maddow Show”; “ZIWE” (Showtime)

BEST ANIMATED SHOW: “Arcane”; “Big Mouth”; “Bob’s Burgers”; “Q Force”; “Tuca & Bertie”; “What If…?”

BEST REALITY SHOW: “Legendary”; “The Real World Homecoming: New Orleans”; “RuPaul’s Drag Race”; “Survivor”; “Top Chef: Houston”; “We’re Here”

MOST VISUALLY STRIKING SHOW: “Euphoria”; “The Gilded Age”; “Loki”; “Severance”: “Squid Game”

CAMPIEST TV SHOW: “Diana: The Musical”; “Euphoria”; “Girls5Eva”; “Nine Perfect Strangers”; “Schmigadoon!”

WILDE WIT AWARD (to a performer, writer or commentator whose observations both challenge and amuse): Joel Kim Booster; Quinta Brunson; Jerrod Carmichael; Jennifer Coolidge; Bowen Yang

THE “YOU DESERVE AN AWARD!” AWARD (to a uniquely talented TV icon we adore): Gillian Anderson; Christine Baranski; Lynda Carter; Kim Cattrall; Cassandra Peterson

GALECA LGBTQIA+ TV TRAILBLAZER (for creating art that inspires empathy, truth and equity): Jerrod Carmichael; Margaret Cho; Russell T. Davies; Kate McKinnon; Bowen Yang

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Photos

PHOTOS: 2022 Baltimore Pride

Annual LGBTQ march held on Saturday

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Baltimore Pride 2022 (Washington Blade photo by Linus Berggren)

The 2022 Baltimore Pride Parade was held on Saturday, June 25. The march was followed by a block party and entertainment.

(Washington Blade photos by Linus Berggren)

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Theater

Queer actor on new role: ‘Playing villains is a blast’

Jaye Ayres-Brown returns as a contemptible Londoner in ‘Red Velvet’

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Jaye Ayres-Brown in ‘Red Velvet’ at Shakespeare Theatre Company. (Photo by Teresa Castracane Photography)

‘Red Velvet’
Through July 17
Shakespeare Theatre Company 
Michael R. Klein Theatre at the Lansburgh, 450 7th St., N.W.
$35-$120
Shakespearetheatre.org

After a five-year absence from the stage, actor Jaye Ayres-Brown (queer, gender fluid, non-binary, and trans-femme) returns to the boards as a contemptible cisgender Londoner in playwright Lolita Chakrabarti’s “Red Velvet” at Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Klein Theatre.

Possessed of presence and genuine warmth, Ayres-Brown, 27, is playing Charles Kean, the smug and dubiously talented son of legendary English actor Edmund Kean. Charles is also the essential antagonist in Chakrabarti’s exploration of the life and career of renowned early 19th century African-American Shakespearean actor, Ira Aldridge (Amari Cheatom).  

When Aldridge is tapped to play Othello on the London stage, Charles, who’s slated to act opposite the star as evil Iago, quits the show. It’s 1833 and Charles is deeply opposed to a Black actor playing a Black lead character, and he’s even less pleased that his real-life fiancée Ellen Tree (Emily DeForest) is assaying Othello’s romantic obsession Desdemona in the production.  

Offstage, Ayres-Brown is Aldridge’s biggest fan: “He was way ahead of his time. A hundred years before Stanislavsky, Aldridge was introducing a proto naturalist approach to acting. In retrospect, it’s hard to disentangle the public’s reaction to him. He was something so different. But were white audiences reacting to his innovative acting style or were they showing their racial bias?” 

“In the play, I’m that bias,” says the New York-based actor. 

WASHINGTON BLADE: Joan Crawford famously said, “I love playing bitches. There’s a lot of bitch in every woman — a lot in every man.” 

JAYE AYRES-BROWN: Oh yeah, playing villains is a blast. Ira Aldridge was such a spectacularly heroic person, an amazingly gifted and resourceful artist, he deserves a good villain to push against, a meaningful villain who makes us admire the hero even more. And Amari [Cheatom], the actor who plays Aldridge, is a great artist who deserves a strong antagonist too. 

BLADE: Are you enjoying your stay in London 1833? 

AYRES-BROWN: No, I hate it!  But my character loves it. Charles enjoys tremendous privilege – racial and professionally. He’s a cisgender white supremacist committed to the patriarchal power structure of the time. But me, Jaye as a person, is less than charmed by it.

BLADE: But aesthetically, it’s quite fine? 

AYRES-BROWN: Yes, You-Shin Chen’s sets are impeccable, and the period costumes are beautifully rendered by Rodrigo Muñoz. Sometimes, I do feel a little bit like a drag king in Charles’ attire. It’s a performance of masculinity. 

I have an expansive experience of gender in which I include masculinity and I think I have something interesting to say and a unique perspective. Language about gender nonconforming identity didn’t exist in 1833, but the people existed, getting by the best way they could. Everyone was either a man or a woman. Who knows today how any of these characters would identify? 

My objective is to cram as much humanity in the character as I can. The play is deeply considered with questions about who gets to play what roles. And I try to bring as much of myself to each role regardless of their gender.

BLADE: Charles is very far from who you are?

AYRES-BROWN: For me, the work of playing a character like this is derived largely from the racist lessons all Americans learn. The stereotypes are things that I’ve been exposed to as someone who grew up white in America. There’s the initial desire to distance and highlight contrasts, but ultimately you must mine your own experience even if it’s uncomfortable.

BLADE: How is it to be working in live theater again?

AYRES-BROWN: Like Christmas morning! It’s my first play in five years, and still my training kicks in. I re-balance on my bike and it’s like I’ve never stopped riding. But mostly, I’m trying to have as much fun as I can. 

BLADE: And how was working with young director Jade King Carroll? 

AYRES-BROWN: Wonderful! The play deals with some difficult moments, harmful language and ideas.  Jade created a space in our rehearsal room where people could be playful while engaging with that. Dealing with concepts of history requires the seriousness it demands, but there’s also a need for humor and lightness, and Jade made that possible.

BLADE:  Any thoughts on “Red Velvet” being stuck in time? 

AYRES-BORWN: No, I think this play is a shockingly contemporary telling of a lost history that feels overwhelmingly resonant as it’s related to identity politics and the push for representation. I hope the audience sees a period but appreciates the present-day dynamics, discussions, and language. It’s also surprisingly human and very entertaining. To me it’s a very funny show. Anyone interested in laughing at posh British folks being stupid might agree.

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