At the height of the Jim Crow era in the early 1900’s, racial tensions in the US were at a fever pitch. Throw into this mix a Black man who excoriated the press for condemning him for marrying a white woman, and who felt no compunction in flaunting his wealth.
Filmmaker Ken Burns suggested, “for more than thirteen years, Jack Johnson was the most famous and the most notorious African-American on Earth.” What made Jack Johnson fascinating was that his influence transcended boxing. Through his larger-than-life exploits outside of the ring, Johnson became part of the lexicon of culture and history in terms of race relations in the United States.
The Royale is a play written by Marco Ramirez that is loosely based on the life of Jack Johnson. It explores the conflicted nature of someone who has all of the natural gifts and has put in the work to succeed, but is shackled by chains forged by society. This raw, earthy play is at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton in February.
Tony King jumped into the ring with André Sills, Director of The Royale: