“This ain’t about what side of town we grew up in, how we look, how we sound. It’s about how we fight.”– Jay “The Sport” Jackson
Pow! “And now, the fight you came for.” Jab! “We’re making music, boy.” Breathe! “See the world changing around you.” Punch! Your Negro Heavyweight Champion, Jay “The Sport” Jackson, dreams of making change in a racially segregated Jim Crow reality through his boxing popularity. Director Michael John Garcés appreciates the play’s layers from the “unbearable intimacy of violence” to the modernity that reaches out to movements that fight racism, inequality and divineness in a fractured world.
Welcome to Marco Ramirez’s The Royale. Arizona Theatre Company (ATC) is Arizona’s preeminent professional theatre, and I am so grateful to be part of the 2019-2020 season’s Cohort Club. Twenty cohorts each from Tucson and from Phoenix read the season’s six scripts before first rehearsals and receive exclusive tickets to special events and preview performances. Our job has been to observe rehearsals, meet one-on-one with directors and actors, and my motivation has been to connect the Tucson Jewish community with ATC’s artistic process.
What a show! Definitely visionary, creative, and meaningful, the show was all and more than I expected. Bechir Selvian as Jay was interactive with the audience as they contributed throughout the play. Edwin Lee Gibson as Wynton was his paternal trainer and Jay’s unfortunate punching bag. Roberto Antonio Martin as Fish was energetic, naive, and humorous. Peter Howard as Max was protective and dedicated. Erica Chamblee as Nina was angry, secure, and intense: “What was all of this for?” I gave them a loving standing ovation for their wonderful performance and the perfection of the director’s vision coming to life.
Sean Daniels, ATC’s artistic director, invited the director and various designers onto the stage and asked the audience as huge collaborators with the fine-tuning with the story-telling process. You will laugh. Your heart will break. You will fight for our characters and for the relevant, thematic theatre.
The Curtain Rises.