"A sterling West Coast premiere... packs a considerable punch." – San Francisco Examiner

FOUR STARS "So fascinating and brought to life so entertainingly" – Marin IJ

FOUR STARS "Riveting, engrossing" – San Francisco Chronicle

"A knockout! Of such high artistic quality in every dimension [that it] reminds me of the best New York off-Broadway stages" – Pacific Sun

Watch the official trailer | Watch the "First Look" video trailer

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 (played with "charisma and seemingly indefatigable energy" by Eddie Ray Jackson, Fences) and disgraced actor Stepin Fetchit ("marvelously embodied... with wry humor" by Roscoe Orman, best known as Gordon on TV's Sesame Street).

Features Eddie Ray Jackson*, Roscoe Orman*, Jefferson A. Russell*, Robert Sicular* and Katherine Renee Turner. In a co-production with Round House Theatre, Maryland

Recommended for youth aged 13 and up.
LENGTH OF SHOW – Two hours and 15 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT

Raised in San Francisco’s Fillmore district, 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) – a reputation that earned him a Trailblazer Award from the National Black Theater Network. Despite his deep local roots, his work has not been seen locally in over a decade… until this summer at MTC! Read the San Francisco Chronicle's interview with him >.

IN THE NEWS

North Bay Bohemian's David Templeton interviews Roscoe Orman about playing Stepin Fetchit.

Mocha Cafe's Sandra Varner previews Fetch Clay, Make Man.

IN DEPTH

This historical drama draws its inspiration from a peculiar event from the Civil Rights Era: a 1965 press conference at which Heavyweight Champion of the World Muhammad Ali introduced his “secret strategy man” – the former Hollywood comedic actor Stepin Fetchit, who has been best described by film critic Jim Emerson as "one of the most fascinating, infuriating, polarizing, pathetic and perplexing figures in movie history." Fetch Clay, Make Man takes place in the run-up to Ali's controversial 1965 rematch with Sonny Liston, but leaves that 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 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.

This intriguing new play examines identity through the unlikely friendship between two Black 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); and 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 was the first black actor to become a millionaire or receive a featured screen credit). Read the playbill >

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Cast

  • Eddie Ray Jackson*

    Eddie Ray Jackson*

    Muhammad Ali

    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

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  • Roscoe Orman*

    Roscoe Orman*

    Stepin Fetchit

    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.

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  • Jefferson A. Russell*

    Jefferson A. Russell*

    Brother Rashid

    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.

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  • Robert Sicular*

    Robert Sicular*

    Fox

    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.

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  • Katherine Renee Turner

    Katherine Renee Turner

    Sonji Clay

    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.

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Creative Team

  • Will Power

    Will Power

    Playwright

    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.

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  • Derrick Sanders

    Derrick Sanders

    Director

    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.

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  • Sean McStravick*

    Stage Manager

    Sean McStravick (stage manager) has previously stage managed MTC’s production of Good People. In the Bay Area, he has stage managed for Shotgun Players, 42nd Street Moon and Willows Theatre Company, where he was the production stage manager from 2010 to 2012. Regionally, he has worked with North Coast Repertory Theatre, Blue Trunk Theatre Company, Back Seat Theatre and Actors Alliance of San Diego.

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  • Courtney O'Neill

    Scenic Designer

    Courtney O’Neill (scenic designer) makes her MTC debut with Fetch Clay, Make Man. She is a Chicago-based scenic designer, whose regional credits include The Mountaintop at Virginia Stage Company; When I Come to Die at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre; Song Man Dance Man at the Milwaukee Rep, Sons of the Prophet, Noises Off and Sundown Town at TheatreSquared; and This is Our Youth (associate designer) on Broadway. Her Chicago credits include Great God Pan at Next Theatre Company, The Little Prince at Lookingglass Theatre Company and Our Town with the Hypocrites. O’Neill received the 2013 United States Institute for Theatre Technology Scene Design Award, a Joseph Jefferson Award for the Hypocrites’s Mud and a Jeff Award nomination for the Gift Theatre Company’s Talk Radio. She holds an MFA from Northwestern University and a BFA from Depaul University, where she currently teaches. courtneyoneill.com

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  • Colin K. Bills

    Lighting Designer

    Colin K. Bills (lighting designer) makes his MTC debut with Fetch Clay, Make Man. He is a company member of Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and a “conspirator” with dog & pony dc. His work has been seen at Berkshire Theatre Festival, Center Stage, Contemporary American Theatre Festival at Shepherd University, Dallas Theater Center, the Everyman Theatre, Ford’s Theatre, Imagination Stage, Intiman Theatre, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Olney Theatre Center, Opera Lafayette, Opéra Royal Versailles, Portland Center Stage, Round House Theatre, the Smithsonian, Signature Theatre, Studio Theatre, Synetic Theater, Theater J, the Washington Revels, Williamstown Theatre Festival and the Wilma Theater. A graduate of Dartmouth College, Bills has won three Helen Hayes Awards and a Princess Grace Fellowship.

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  • Heidi Leigh Hanson

    Costume Designer

    Heidi Leigh Hanson (costume designer) has designed costumes for MTC’s productions of Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol and Good People. She recently designed for the San Francisco Mime Troupe’s Ripple Effect and Shotgun Players’ Coast of Utopia: Salvage. Other recent projects include costume designer for Cutting Ball Theater’s world premiere of Sidewinders and assistant costume designer for La Musica Lirica’s opera productions of Le nozze di Figaro, Suor Angelica, La cambiale di matrimonio and Lucia di Lammermoor. Her film and TV credits include Netflix’s Arrested Development and assistant costume designer for the film Lucky Strike, directed by Christopher Ashley. Hanson has also designed productions for Laguna Playhouse, Open Fist Theatre Company in Los Angeles and Yale Repertory Theatre, among others. Originally from Martinez, she has a BA in theater from California State University Long Beach and an MFA in costume and set design from the Yale School of Drama. heidileigh.com

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  • Christopher Baine

    Sound Designer

    Christopher Baine (sound designer) makes his MTC debut with Fetch Clay, Make Man. He recently designed Detroit at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Water by the Spoonful at Studio Theatre, Yellow Face at Theater J and Romeo and Juliet at Folger Theatre (2014 Helen Hayes Award nominee). For Woolly Mammoth, he also designed The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity (2013 Hayes Award nominee), Gruesome Playground Injuries and A Bright New Boise (2012 Hayes Award winner for outstanding sound design). Baine has also designed for many regional theaters including Shakespeare Theatre Company, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Olney Theater Company, the Everyman Theatre, Forum Theatre, dog & pony dc, Adventure Theater, Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, Synetic Theater and Theatre Alliance of Washington D.C. A 2012 Kenan Fellow at the Kennedy Center, he has also been the Resident Sound Designer for Imagination Stage and a guest artist with the University of Maryland, Catholic University and American University. bainedesign.com

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  • Kirsten Royston

    Props Artisan

    Kirsten Royston (props artisan) was the assistant props artisan for MTC’s last production, Failure: A Love Story. The resident technical director of San Francisco State University’s Brown Bag production development class, she is a Bay Area-based set, props and production designer. Her recent prop work includes American Buffalo and The Letters at Aurora Theatre Company and Daylighting: The Berkeley Stories Project and Edward Gant’s Amazing Feats of Loneliness at Shotgun Players. kirstenroyston.com

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* Denotes member of Actors Equity Association
+ Member, United Scenic Artists
^ Member, Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers

Reviews

  • "Riveting, engrossing... Eddie Ray Jackson inhabits the role [of Muhammad Ali] so well that you'll follow him anywhere Will Power's "Fetch Clay, Make Man" wants to take you... Call it effortless charisma. Call it grace. Jackson rhymes like Ali, shadow-boxes with the young champ's bewilderingly rapid footwork, and head bobs, sasses, boasts, plays around, turns serious and takes umbrage with the mercurial concentrated energy you expect in Ali at the time of his 1965 rematch with the forbidding former heavyweight champion Sonny Liston. He floats. He knows he can sting. And, yes, he's pretty... Roscoe Orman's seemingly laid-back, almost shiftless, but watchful and crafty Stepin Fetchit carries a great deal of the drama. Orman makes us not only feel familiar with Fetchit but see him as an African American trailblazer... A bracing, self-assured Katherine Renee Turner refreshingly cuts through the predominant testosterone as Sonji, Ali's first wife... Jackson is the anchor, as his irresistible Ali holds things together. Orman sweetly, almost offhandedly provides bright demonstrations of Fetchit's comic persona."

    — San Francisco Chronicle Read full review
  • "The central figures are so fascinating and are brought to life so entertainingly that you just want to watch them spar... Eddie Ray Jackson nicely captures the cocky confidence and singsong cadence of the boxer [Muhammad Ali]'s speech, as well as his charisma and seemingly indefatigable energy... [Stepin] Fetchit is marvelously embodied by Roscoe Orman, best known as Gordon from 'Sesame Street'... Katherine Renee Turner is luminous as Ali's wife, Sonji Clay."

    — Marin IJ Read full review
  • "A sterling West Coast premiere... the play packs, ahem, a considerable punch... [features] a luminous, layered performance by Eddie Ray Jackson as Muhammad Ali [and] Roscoe Orman, brilliant in the role of Stepin Fetchit."

    — San Francisco Examiner Read full review
  • "A sterling West Coast premiere... the play packs, ahem, a considerable punch... [features] a luminous, layered performance by Eddie Ray Jackson as Muhammad Ali [and] Roscoe Orman, brilliant in the role of Stepin Fetchit."

    — San Francisco Examiner Read full review
  • "Delivers a one-two punch of powerhouse entertainment... The acting is superb... The show goes to Baltimore shortly, so get tickets now or you will be down for the count."

    — Mill Valley Herald (Marinscope Community Newspapers) Read full review
  • "'Fetch Clay, Make Man' is a knockout! ... Of such high artistic quality in every dimension [that it] reminds me of the best New York off-Broadway stages... MTC's excellent acting ensemble carries the day."

    — Pacific Sun
  • "Playwright Power uses the conversation of [Muhammad Ali and Stepin Fetchit] to effectively explore themes of identity and self-knowledge, power and weakness, ambition and despair, pride and prejudice. Power is a fine writer, and he presents two fascinating and articulate characters whose stories intrigue and engage us... Eddie Ray Jackson is truly charismatic as the great Ali... As Stepin Fetchit, Roscoe Orman does a dead-on perfect impersonation, especially when demonstrating the actor’s film persona. As Brother Rashid, the Black Muslim assigned to protect Ali, Jefferson A. Russell is particularly good. He beautifully captures the manner of a true believer, while still showing the complexities, doubts and rich inner life of a man who would give unhesitant loyalty to a cult. Katherine Renee Turner is lovely as Sonji Clay, and Robert Sicular is consistently interesting as movie mogul William Fox... 'Fetch Clay, Make Man' is an entertaining and thought provoking play that sticks with the viewer."

    — TheatreStorm Read full review

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