The Royale premieres April 7th at the O’Kane Theater


The Greek god of theater Dionysus smiles at the O’Kane Theater this spring season.

After he had just finished his run Too much light and the baby goes blind In February, the O’Kane Theater is in full rehearsal for the forthcoming production of The Royale, which premieres Thursday, April 7 at 8pm.

According to Tim Klein, director of the O’Kane Theater and associate professor of drama, winning the nation’s hottest ticket was a huge coup. “We were really surprised that we were able to secure the rights to produce this play…it’s one of the most celebrated productions in the country right now.”

The play was written by Marco Ramirez, one of the writers on the hit TV show Orange Is The New Black. Interestingly, audiences shouldn’t expect to see real boxing. “There’s a lot of dynamic movement in the show, which is based on African stamping,” said Luke Fedell, associate professor of theater and acting. “You won’t see boxers competing against each other. Instead you see more of her stream of consciousness with a continuous rhythm and beat all the time. Punches are presented with choreographed interpretive stomps… using the body to make sounds.”

At the turn of the 20th century, the country and the professional boxing ring are separated. Jay Jackson – a black man living at the height of the Jim Crow era – dreams of becoming the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. To achieve his dream, he must persuade the reigning champion, a white man, to step into the ring with him. Loosely based on true events in the life of Texan native Jack Johnson, nicknamed “The Galveston Giant,” the play captures the sights, sounds and struggles as Jackson uses his platform as a professional athlete to effect change while fighting for freedom and recognition fights inside and outside the ring.

“This production invites us to live the story of African American athletes…these great heroes who were able to break down the constant barriers that were placed on them. It was because of her stubbornness and almost stubbornness in not accepting “that’s just the way it is,” stressed UHD alum Fedell. “To understand our own history, we need to be able to teach our students to dream and dream with their eyes open—that means understanding the historical figures that have gotten us this far.”

According to Fedell, The Royale is timely and relevant, and very different from previous O’Kane Theater productions. “In a word ‘spectacle,'” he said. “When people walk into our humble theater, ‘spectacle’ is probably the last word that comes to mind. To simulate the opulence and spectacular experience of a big boxing match (think Las Vegas fights), we had to pull out all the tricks of the trade.”

When asked what he’ll be hoping for audiences, he said, “Empathy is a powerful gift… it’s my favorite part of storytelling. This piece tells the story of Jack Johnson in an almost folkloric way and challenges us to respect the culture and rights of others and having a dream is common to all. It can make our adjustments to a much fairer world an easier and more creative process. Empathy can provide the ship to navigate these sometimes rough waters and connect people across our country.”

“The Royale” performances

7th of April
opening night
8 p.m

April 8 & 12
8 p.m

12. April
Filmed performance
8 p.m

April 13th
Student matinee
1:30 p.m

April 14th
8 p.m

April 15th
Student matinee
1:30 p.m

evening performance
8 p.m

April 16
graduation night
8 p.m

To buy tickets to The Royale online, visit here.

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