TR4: “Make Your Mark”

“And now, the fight you came for…”

Max, The Royale

Purley “Fresh Fish” Hawkins aka Fish’s words really spoke to me. Make your mark. It makes us question: What often motivates us, and what are our goals as human beings?

Living with epilepsy, it can be so hard to live a normal life – to drive our car, to have a 9 to 5 job to help my family’s livelihood, and even to have more children. My health has kept me from true happiness, however opportunities have allowed me to live my dreams. Seeing my pessimism and depression, my husband has chosen time, effort, and even where we live to make my dreams come true – a campus rebbetzin, an ATC Cohort, an amateur visual artist, and a childhood book author. These are recent opportunities that can given me the possibility to “make [my] mark”.

Jack Johnson, the original African-American heavyweight champion of the world, made his mark the professional boxing world by making it more theatrical and interactive by having a comedic and fun relationship with his audience. My Uber driver Paul even knew Jack Johnson as a famous boxer! In the play The Royale, Jay “The Sport” Jackson speaks with the audience – flirts with the women, entertains the people, breaks the fourth wall (during round four), and has an internal dialogue about the “front row”. Jay’s trainer Wynton wanted to know why Jay was focusing on the audience over his career: “you won this audience, you forgot to fight”. Max says that Jay’s face can be seen in every newspaper every week, “a colored man once a week on page 5”. Of course, Jay wonders why he can’t be seen on the front page as he has had seventy-six boxing wins between San Diego and New York City.

Fish made his mark when he was in his first “professional” fight with Jay “The Sport” Jackson. He achieved his dreams without professionl boxing experience in a Mississippi naval yard as a “rope man” and without his own trainer. After the fight, Jay evaluated that Fish “ain’t half bad” since no one had “made Round Seven with The Sport”, and then he chose Fish to be his sparring partner!

Boxing promoter Max’s mark is his creating “the fight of the decade”, negro heavyweight champion Jay against the prior heavyweight champion of the (i.e. white) world Bernard “The Champ” Bixby. Furthermore, “I should remind you that I am…great at my job and that you will not anyone as dedicated to you, to the sport, or to the pursuit of sport in general.” This is his dream.

ATC’s production of The Royale Director Michael John Garcès is truly a visionary and he sees the “big picture” of the play. However, his unique directorial stylization makes his mark as he focuses on a positive and respectful relationship with his actors as a friend and leader. His own acting experience gives his cast a space for them to repeat and match him with intensity. With a committed and inspiring vision, he also clears pathways for ideas and uses confidence in his team for an ultimate reality. Secondly, two out of four rehearsals that I have observed, Garcès has worn a “” shirt that supports, which is a nonprofit that promotes diverse and under-resourced communities, green action agencies, and the contemporary art world.

The assistant director job has a variety of tasks that is needed for the certain production. China in The Royale watches the essential details of the ensemble’s rhythm (i.e. HA and CLAP). Last season, Jasmine Roth worked for The Music Man, because of her experience with musicals. Anna Jennings was the assistant director for ATC last season’s American Mariachi as she was getting her Master’s degree in Dramaturgy. During the entire year before the show, she already worked on and researched the play.

I believe that ATC’s The Royale will make its “mark” with its team, including its ensemble, artists, and creators, and it will make a smashing hit (i.e. punch) in the world of professional theatre.

Arizona Theatre Company

Tucson: Sept. 13-28 Phoenix: Oct. 3-20

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