Lolita Chakrabarti's play Red Velvet, now playing at St. Ann's Warehouse, is drawing new attention to the great nineteenth-century actor Ira Aldridge, whom I wrote about last year. One historical point should be emphasized: Aldridge was not the first black actor to play Othello. That honor would seem to belong to James Hewlett, who played the role at the African Theatre, in New York, in the early 1820s. Chakrabarti mentions Hewlett in the play, but viewers may miss his import. Shane White tells much more of Hewlett in Stories of Freedom in Black New York. Above, an image of Hewlett as Richard III.