Now Streaming: Lincoln Center Theater’s ‘The Royale’
The Royale is a most unusual play about a boxer. First of all, it is not really about life in the ring. Second, not a single punch will be thrown, at least not with fists. The play is about the life of the outsider in American culture. Set in 1905, deep in the midst of Jim Crow, it explores one man’s struggle while reflecting a much broader one. It is also a play about a brother and sister who protect each other but don’t agree on what that means.
African-American boxer Jay “The Sport” Jackson has a burning desire to become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. Jackson’s fight begins long before the match, though; it takes careful negotiations to convince the white reigning titleholder to even recognize him as a worthy opponent and enter the ring.
Inspired by the real-life experiences of Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight world champion, The Royale has seen been staged in London, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Diego.
The cast features McKinley Belcher III, Khris Davis, Montego Glover, John Lavelle, and Clarke Peters. The show is directed by Rachel Chavkin (Hadestown; Natasha, Pierre, & The Great Comet of 1812), with sets by Nick Vaughan, costumes by Dede Ayite, lighting by Austin R. Smith, and sound by Matt Hubbs.