Fetch Clay, Make Man | West Coast premiere

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 17, 2014

Fetch Clay, Make Man production photos are available online at http://marintheatre.org/press/press-photos/#photos-fetch-clay-make-man.

 

MARIN THEATRE COMPANY PRODUCES THE
WEST COAST PREMIERE OF
FETCH CLAY, MAKE MAN BY WILL POWER,
SAN FRANCISCO NATIVE AND HIP HOP THEATER PIONEER
 

THE HISTORICAL DRAMA
EXPLORES THE UNLIKELY FRIENDSHIP BETWEEN
MUHAMMAD ALI (MTC’S FENCES
ACTOR EDDIE RAY JACKSON)
AND STEPIN FETCHIT (TV’S
SESAME STREET ACTOR ROSCOE ORMAN),

DIRECTED BY DERRICK SANDERS (MTC’S FENCES) 

Eight performances weekly from August 14 to September 7, 2014
Opening Night: August 19

MILL VALLEY, CA—Marin Theatre Company, in a bi-coastal co-production with Maryland’s Round House Theatre, will open its 48th Season with the West Coast premiere of Fetch Clay, Make Man, an historical drama that draws its inspiration from a peculiar event from the Civil Rights Era: a press conference at which heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, né Cassius Clay, introduced his “secret strategy man” – the former Hollywood comedic actor Stepin Fetchit, né Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry. Written by San Francisco native and hip-hop theater pioneer Will Power and directed by Derrick Sanders (MTC’s Fences, 2014), Fetch Clay, Make Man examines black identity in the US through the unlikely friendship between two African-American icons who became inseparable from their public personas – Ali, “The People’s Champion,” was viewed as a racial hero for embracing black pride (and white antagonism); Fetchit, “The Laziest Man in the World,” as a racial traitor for his “chitlin’ circuit” vaudeville and minstrel show character (that was so popular he became the first black actor to receive a featured screen credit). MTC’s production features the return of Bay Area actors Eddie Ray Jackson (MTC’s Fences, 2014) and Robert Sicular (MTC’s The Seafarer, 2008), as well as the debuts of Roscoe Orman (Gordon on TV’s Sesame Street; Broadway’s Fences, 1987) and D.C.-based actors Jefferson Russell and Katherine Renee Turner. The production will run for a limited engagement of 29 performances from August 14 through September 7. Opening night is Tuesday, August 19. Based in Mill Valley, MTC is a 48-year old professional nonprofit theater that is a destination for smart contemporary American plays, uncommonly high quality productions and adventurous live theater experiences.

“We are delighted to welcome back to Mill Valley Derrick Sanders, the incredible director who helmed our fantastic production of Fences last season,” said artistic director Jasson Minadakis. “He has brought together a wonderful cast of actors to tell San Francisco-native Will Power’s story of Ali and Step and the powerful battle that raged in the mid-1960s, both inside the ring and outside in the world. We are thrilled to have a dynamic group of artists from across the country collaborating on this new play, which will start here in the Bay Area and then travel to Bethesda, Maryland, where it will continue its run at Round House Theatre.”

Taking place in the run-up to the controversial 1965 rematch between Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston, which famously ended after Liston went down less than two minutes into the first round after a “phantom punch” that few saw delivered by Ali, Fetch Clay, Make Man leaves the well-documented public event as background to the imagined drama taking place in Ali’s dressing room. From the shadow boxing of personalities between Ali and Stepin Fetchit, whom Ali has brought in to teach him heavyweight champion Jack Johnson’s “anchor punch,” to the struggle of Ali and his wife with their new life in the Nation of Islam, “plenty of verbal punches are thrown” in this “eye-popping [and] intriguing” (The New York Times) new play that is also a “fascinating [and] bracing look at the politics of identity” (Backstage.com).

Fetch Clay, Make Man premiered in 2010 at the McCarter Theatre Center in New Jersey and received its second production at New York Theatre Workshop in August 2013. Born in Harlem and raised in San Francisco’s Fillmore district, playwright Will Power “has been hailed by critics as ‘the best verse playwright in America’ and is known for bridging the gap between contemporary hip-hop and performance theater” (Dallas Magazine). His 1999 solo performance work The Gathering: a hip hop theater journey to the meeting places of Black men is considered to be one of the first hip-hop theater pieces ever created. These distinctions, among others, earned Power a Trailblazer Award from the National Black Theater Network. Locally, he co-founded the Whammy (SF Weekly) and Bay Area Music Award (BAM magazine) winning rap group Midnight Voices in 1990, and wrote Flow and The Seven under commission by San Francisco’s Thick Description. Seven went on to win three San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards. Power’s work has not been seen locally since he performed excerpts of Flow at the Bay Area Hip-Hop Theater Festival preview in 2003.

Fetch Clay, Make Man stars Eddie Ray Jackson as Ali and Roscoe Orman as Fetchit. A recent graduate of Columbia University, Jackson has recently appeared at MTC as Cory in August Wilson’s Fences and at Magic Theatre in the world premiere of Pen/man/ship. A 50-year veteran of American TV, film and stage, Orman is best known as Gordon on PBS’s Sesame Street, as well as playing Gabriel in the original 1987 Broadway production of August Wilson’s Fences. He has performed as Stepin Fetchit numerous times in the one-man live show The Confessions of Stepin Fetchit, written for him by screenwriter Matt Robinson (who played Gordon on Sesame Street from 1969 to 1972, prior to Orman). Supporting Jackson and Orman are Bay Area actor Robert Sicular and D.C. area actors Jefferson A. Russell and Katherine Renee Turner. Following the run of Fetch Clay, Make Man in Mill Valley, the production will move to Round House Theatre in Bethesda, Maryland, where it will run from October 10 to November 2, 2014.

Fetch Clay, Make Man marks the return of director Derrick Sanders, who made his MTC and Bay Area debut in April directing MTC’s Fences. He is known as one of the country’s preeminent interpreters of the work of August Wilson and worked directly with the playwright as assistant director on his world premieres of Radio Golf and Gem of the Ocean. His short film Perfect Day was screened in May at the San Francisco Black Film Festival.

Recommended for ages 13 and up. MTC is proud to now offer $10 tickets for local teens to attend live professional theater. 

CALENDAR INFORMATION 

WHAT        
Fetch Clay, Make Man | West Coast premiere 

WHO
Marin Theatre Company
In a co-production with Round House Theatre in Maryland
By Will Power | Directed by Derrick Sanders (Fences)
Featuring Eddie Ray Jackson (Fences), Roscoe Orman (debut, Gordon on TV’s Sesame Street), Jefferson Russell (debut), Robert Sicular (The Seafarer, Magic Forest Farm) and Katherine Renee Turner (debut) 

WHEN
August 14 - September 7, 2014
Opening Night: Tuesday, August 19
Previews: Thursday, August 14 - Sunday, August 17

Performance Days
Tue, Thu, Fri & Sat 8:00 pm
Wed 7:30 pm
Sun 7:00 pm
Matinees: Every Sun 2:00 pm | Sat 6/14 & 6/28, 2:00 pm | Thu 6/19, 1:00 pm 

Check marintheatre.org or call the box office at (415) 388-5208 for exact performance dates and times.

WHERE
Marin Theatre Company | 397 Miller Avenue, Mill Valley, CA 94941 

ABOUT
One snuck in the back door, so the other could walk in the front.

Why would the shining son of the Nation of Islam seek help from one of the most vilified figures of black American culture? In this knockout new play, San Francisco native Will Power investigates an unlikely friendship of the Civil Rights Era – young heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali and disgraced actor Stepin Fetchit.

“Throws plenty of verbal punches” – The New York Times 

TICKETS
$35–$58, details below (discounts available for Seniors, Teens and those Under 30) 

Ticket Prices
Previews: $35 all
Opening Night: $53 side | $58 center
Tues (except Opening Night), Wed, Thu: $37 | $42
Fri: $45 | $50
Sat Evenings: $50 | $55
Sun Evenings & all Matinees: $42 | $47

Discounts available:
RUSH tickets: $20, available one hour prior to show, based on availability
Senior discounts: $4 off, all performances
Under 30: $20, all performances
Teen tickets: $10 tickets, all performances
Military personnel, their families & US veterans: $5 off, all performances, must show ID

For group sales, contact Sasha Hnatkovich, (415) 388-5200, ext. 3313

ENGAGE
A Q&A discussion, hosted by a member of MTC’s artistic staff (often with one or more members of the cast), follows every performance, except on Saturdays and Opening and Closing Nights.

Special Events:
Library Lecture Series – FREE public lectures by MTC artistic staff, all start at 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted

Tue, Jul 29: Belvedere-Tiburon Library, 1501 Tiburon Blvd
– Wed, Aug 6: Mill Valley Public Library, 375 Throckmorton Ave

• Perspectives: pre-show topical lecture: Thur 6/19, 12:00 p.m.

ACCESS
“MTC All Access” strives to make theater accessible to all audiences. For hearing impaired patrons, amplified sound Listening Devices are available for all performances. For visually impaired patrons, Large Print playbills are available with one-weeks advance notice, and Braille playbills are available with two-weeks advance notice through partnership with LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired. To request a Large Print or Braille playbill, call MTC’s Box Office, (415) 388-5208, or use the California Telecommunications Relay Service by dialing “711.”

CONTACT
marintheatre.org | (415) 388-5208 | boxoffice@marintheatre.org

ARTIST BIOGRAPHIES

Will Power (playwright) makes his MTC debut with Fetch Clay, Make Man. He is an award-winning playwright and performer. Fetch recently enjoyed a successful run Off-Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop. His other plays include Steel Hammer with SITI Company at the Humana Festival of New American Plays (Actors Theatre of Louisville), The Seven (Lucille Lortel Award Best Musical) at New York Theatre Workshop and La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, Five Fingers of Funk! at Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, Honey Bo and the Goldmine at La Jolla Playhouse and two acclaimed solo shows, The Gathering and Flow, which have toured to over 70 cities nationwide, Europe and Australia. Power’s numerous awards include a United States Artist Prudential Fellowship, the TCG Peter Zeisler Memorial Award, a Jury Award for Best Theatre Performance at the HBO US Comedy Arts Festival and the Trailblazer Award from the National Black Theater Network. Power’s numerous film and television appearances include The Steven Colbert Report (Comedy Central) and Bill Moyers on Faith & Reason (PBS). He spent his early years as a key member in two critically acclaimed avant-garde music groups, Midnight Voices and the Omar Sosa Sextet. With these groups, Power recorded and toured extensively. He has taught theater around the world and held a number of artist fellowships and guest teaching positions at institutions such as the City College of New York, Princeton University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Power is currently on the faculty at the Meadows School of the Arts – Southern Methodist University in University Park, Texas, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence with the Dallas Theatre Center.

Derrick Sanders (director) has previously directed August Wilson’s Fences at MTC. He also recently directed The Mountaintop at Virginia Stage Company, the world premiere of Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money at Chicago Children’s Theatre, Clybourne Park at University of Illinois at Chicago School of Theatre and Music, and Clybourne Park and the world premiere of Beneatha’s Place for “The Raisin Cycle” at Center Stage in Baltimore. His other credits include King Hedley II at the Off-Broadway Signature Theatre; Seven Guitars and King Hedley II for “August Wilson’s 20th Century” at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.; Joe Turner’s Come and Gone at Center Stage; Fences and Radio Golf at Virginia Stage; Jitney at True Colors Theatre in Atlanta; the world premieres of Bud, Not Buddy and Jackie and Me at Chicago Children’s Theatre; and the world premiere of Five Fingers of Funk at Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis. Sanders was assistant director of August Wilson’s world premiere productions of Radio Golf and Gem of the Ocean on Broadway and at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, as well as the Huntington Theatre in Boston and Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles for Radio Golf. As the founding artistic director of Congo Square Theatre Company in Chicago, he directed numerous productions including Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, which won Black Theatre Alliance Awards for best production and direction, and Seven Guitars, which won Joseph Jefferson Awards for best production and direction. A member of UIC’s Theatre Faculty, he organizes Chicago’s August Wilson Monologue Competition. He was named Chicago Tribune’s Chicagoan of the Year in 2005. In March, Sanders made his filmmaking debut at the Queens World Film Festival in New York City with the premiere of his short Perfect Day, which recently screened at the San Francisco Black Film Festival. He received his BFA from Howard University and MFA from University of Pittsburgh.

Eddie Ray Jackson (Muhammad Ali) has appeared at MTC in August Wilson’s Fences. Most recently, he acted in the world premiere of Christina Anderson’s Pen/man/ship at Magic Theatre. Originally from San Francisco, he was a 2013 company member of Oregon Shakespeare Festival and appeared in The Heart of Robin Hood. His New York credits include Much Ado About Nothing at Classic Stage Company; A Midsummer Night’s Dream and La Ronde at Riverside Theatre; and Miss Julie, The Proposal and Endgame at Columbia University. His film and television credits include Couched, Subway Candy and Ex-Girlfriends. Jackson received an MFA in Acting from Columbia University and BA in Theatre Arts from California State University, Sacramento. eddierjackson.com

Roscoe Orman (Stepin Fetchit) makes his MTC debut in Fetch Clay, Make Man. He is a 50-year veteran of stage, film and television. Widely known for his four decades as “Gordon” on Sesame Street, Orman, an Audelco Award winner and a five-time nominee, played Gabriel in the original Broadway production of Fences. Other theater credits include Whose Got His Own, Duplex, Fabulous Miss Marie, Everynight When The Sun Goes Down, Great McDaddy, Sixteenth Round, Last Street Play, Talented Tenth, Do Lord Remember Me, Driving Miss Daisy, Jitney and The Confessions of Stepin Fetchit, to name a few. Films include Willie Dynamite (title role), F/X, Follow That Bird, New Jersey Drive, Striking Distance, Elmo In Grouchland and Jeremy Fink And The Meaning of Life. On television, he was Tyrone in All My Children and has made numerous guest appearances, including Sanford and Son, Kojak, A Man Called Hawk, Law & Order, Cosby, Sex and the City, The Wire and Alpha House.

Jefferson A. Russell (Brother Rashid) makes his MTC debut in Fetch Clay, Make Man. He has appeared at Round House Theatre, MTC’s co-producer for Fetch, in Two Trains Running, Fahrenheit 451, Amadeus and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Other credits include Clybourne Park (Helen Hayes Award nominated Outstanding Ensemble) at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington D.C.; The Trinity River Plays at Dallas Theatre Center and the Goodman Theatre in Chicago; The Piano Lesson at Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, New York; Hecuba, Blood Knot, A Raisin in the Sun and A Lesson Before Dying at African Continuum Theatre Company in D.C.; Gem of the Ocean, Blues for an Alabama Sky, Hedda Gabler and The Soul Collector at Everyman Theatre in Baltimore; The Tempest at Folger Theatre in D.C.; Cyrano and Edward II at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in D.C.; Measure For Measure at Academy for Classical Acting at George Washington University in D.C.; and other theater companies including several national tours with the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. TV credits include HBO’s The Wire and NBC’s Homicide: Life on the Streets. Jefferson has a BA in Sociology/Criminal Justice from Hampton University, an MFA in Classical Acting from the Academy for Classical Acting at George Washington University, is a former Baltimore police officer and a founding member of GALVANIZE, a network for artists of color.

Robert Sicular (William Fox) has appeared at MTC in Arms and the Man, The Seafarer and the world premiere of Magic Forest Farm. He has also performed locally with A.C.T., Berkeley Rep, San Jose Rep, TheatreWorks, Center REP, Cal Shakes and the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival. His other theater credits include the Denver Center Theatre Company, South Coast Rep, Seattle Rep, Repertory Theatre of Saint Louis, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Sacramento Theatre Company, the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington D.C. and the Colorado, Lake Tahoe, Santa Fe Shakespeare Festivals, as well as eight seasons with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. Sicular’s screen credits include recurring roles on General Hospital and The Young and the Restless, a starring role in the science fiction comedy thriller Never Die Twice, a featured part in the Bollywood potboiler Dil Pardesi Ho Gayaa and the role of “Dad” in Josh Kornbluth’s upcoming Love and Taxes. He also stars in the podcast series Dr. Dark Presents (drdarkpresents.com). A Berkeley native, Sicular attended the University of California, Berkeley, and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

Katherine Renee Turner (Sonji Clay) makes her MTC debut in Fetch Clay, Make Man. A Washington D.C. based actor, she has appeared in that region in The Threepenny Opera at Signature Theatre, Photo-Op at UrbanArias, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Much Ado About Nothing at Shakespeare Theatre Company, The Laramie Project (2014 Helen Hayes nominated) at Ford’s Theatre, The Twelve Days of Christmas at Adventure Theatre and Rumplestiltskin at Imagination Stage. Her television and film credits include The RA's, Wintersmith and Ward 11. Turner is a graduate of Ithaca College and the National Theater Institute at Eugene O’Neill Theatre.

ABOUT MTC
Founded in 1966, Marin Theatre Company is the Bay Area’s premier mid-sized theater and the leading professional theater in the North Bay. We produce a six-show season of provocative plays by passionate playwrights from the 20th century and today in our 231-seat main stage theater, as well as a five-show Theater Series for Young Audiences (in partnership with the Bay Area Children's Theatre) in our 99-seat studio theater. We are committed to the development and production of new plays by American playwrights, with a comprehensive New Play Program that includes productions of premieres, two nationally recognized annual playwriting awards, readings and workshops by the nation’s best emerging playwrights and membership in the National New Play Network. Our numerous education programs serve more than 8,500 students from over 50 Bay Area schools each year. MTC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

PRESS CONTACT
Sasha Hnatkovich, Communications Director
(415) 388-5200, ext. 3313 | sasha@marintheatre.org

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