City Theatre will present historically-inspired drama The Royale


Last updated 12/26/2016 at 5:01pm

City Theatre rings in 2017 with The Royale, a knockout new play by Marco Ramirez.

The Royale is directed by Stuart Carden, and runs on City Theatre’s Main Stage, January 21 – February 12, 2017.

Jay “The Sport” Jackson is a legend in the making. He has his eyes set on becoming the heavyweight champion of the world, but the Jim Crow reality of 1905 America might just be his fiercest opponent yet. The Royale goes ringside for the fight of the century, following one man’s quest for victory against all odds.

The Royale is a heart-pounding drama inspired by the true story of the trail-blazing African American boxer, Jack Johnson. Johnson’s insistence on fighting—and ultimately defeating—the white champion of the time ignited racial tensions and thrust him into an international spotlight.

“I didn’t set out to write a play about race relations,” said playwright Ramirez. “I set out to write a play about boxing. But as I started to zero in on the elements I knew I wanted to highlight—the percussive, distinctly musical nature of the sport, the braggadocio of celebrity, the narratives that get spun in and outside of the ring—the story of Jack Johnson kept bubbling to the surface, like a song I couldn’t get out of my head.”

“August Wilson often gets credited as the greatest African American playwright. I’d go a step further. I think he’s the greatest American playwright,” Mr. Ramirez continued. “I could never have written The Royale without August Wilson’s influence. When I sit to write a new play, it’s his toolbox I carry with me. The monologue as music. The ghost that walks across the stage. The argument between loved ones in which each party is 100 percent correct.

“In his work, there’s no such thing as a simple message. There is no moral high ground. There are just human beings born at the wrong time, or into the wrong families, trying to find joy in a world where the only constant is change, yet somehow everything stays the same.”

“Marco’s play not only brings us deep into the world of professional boxing at the turn of the 20th century, but it also gives us a ringside view of America at that moment in time as well,” said Artistic Director Tracy Brigden. “It’s a play that has real resonance to our present challenges as a nation, but as told through the lens of sports, it makes for a highly entertaining and exciting piece of theatre.”

Mr. Ramirez has had plays produced at Lincoln Center (Outer Critics Circle Award nomination), The Kennedy Center, The Humana Festival, The Old Globe (San Diego), The Bush Theatre (London), and Center Theatre Group. Honors include Juilliard’s Lila Acheson Wallace Playwriting Fellowship, Lincoln Center’s Le Comte du Nouy Award, and both WGA and Emmy Award nominations. Education: NYU and Juilliard. TV credits: Sons of Anarchy (FX), Orange is the New Black (Netflix), Fear the Walking Dead (AMC), Marvel’s Daredevil (Netflix), and Marvel’s The Defenders (Netflix).

The Royale is directed by Stuart Carden. Performing the role of Jay is Desean Kevin Terry. The cast includes Bernard Gilbert as Fish, Tim Edward Rhoze as Wynton, Andrew William Smith as Max, Bria Walker as Nina, and Tony II Lorrich and Siddiq Saunderson as members of the Ensemble.

The production team includes Brian Bembridge (scenic and lighting design), Karen Gilmer (costume design), Mikhail Fiksel (sound designer), Clare Drobot (dramaturg), and Patti Kelly (stage manager). Stephanie Paul will create the unique soundscape of The Royale as Body Percussion Choreographer.

Tickets are available at the City Theatre Box Office, 1300 Bingham Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203, by calling 412.431.CITY (2489) or at


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