"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
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.
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 >