Fetch Clay, Make Man True Colors Theatre through November 22, 2015
True Colors Theatre
through November 22, 2015
Will Power has written a highly acclaimed work with his Fetch Clay, Make Man. It deals with two very public Black men who have difficult roads to travel in their careers. Cassias Clay was a young fighter who the world remembers as Muhammad Ali. He embraced Islam in the days of the Vietnam War and that was a major event in many ways.
Ali was so well known for the Rumble in the Jungle and the Thrilla in Manilla when he fought there, and he was one who never backed off from speaking his mind, albeit he was no Mensa member, he knew what he stood for and he stood strongly. He had declined to be drafted and the government, as well as many others, sought to punish him. After three years of litigation the Supreme Court voted 8-0 in his favor and his rights and titles were restored. If you were here in Atlanta in 1996, you saw him as the torch bearer for the Olympics.
The play does not delve into this part of his life, per se. It is set in the years when he was fighting Sonny Liston and was married to Sonji. Sonji was not about to embrace Islam as Ali did, and accept the restraints the religion imposes upon women. That was one of the main problems which brought their union to an end. Sonji (Danielle Deadwyler) was the first of his 4 wives.
Rob Demery plays Muhammad Ali, and his is fantastic. He’s got the body, the moves, the talent, and the fire within him to bring this champion to the stage. He’s accompanied by Brother Rashid (Amari Cheatom) who is a front man for the Nation of Islam and has his own agendum for how Ali should be perceived and what he should be saying.
Enter Lincoln Perry a/k/a Stepin Fetchit. Stepin was one of the first well known Black actors. In fact he was the first to get full screen credits and first to become a millionaire, regardless that he wound up in bankruptcy in later years. Stepin (Brad Raymond) doesn’t share all the same priorities that Ali does; but they each know that they want equality and respect regardless that their journey to achieve it may travel separate roads.
Brian Kurlander plays the only honkie in the show. He’s William Fox, of Fox Film Studio and the first to sign a Black actor to a contract that would prove to be quite profitable for all concerned. Stepin passed away in 1985, while Muhammad is still with us, although he suffers from Parkinson’s disease and has limited activities these days.
Kenny Leon brought in actor and teacher Eric Little to direct this show; and with Eric as director and a first class cast of players, they present a very imposing production. Maybe some of the patrons under 40 won’t relate to the events of the 1970s as much as we AARP card holders. But, living here in the South with some understanding of what the Afro-American culture had to deal with even after the defeat at Gettysburg, and Rosa Parks’ bus ride and Malcolm X, it tells a story that is well worth listening to.
For performance times, tickets and more info visit their website at TrueColorsTheare.org