THE STORY OF THE PLAY
Set in 1905, THE ROYALE tells the story of Jay “The Sport” Jackson, a Black heavyweight boxing champion inspired by real-life boxing legend Jack Johnson. In the play, Jay dreams of becoming the first Black heavyweight champion of the world.
Max, a White boxing promoter, sets up what he’s calling “The Fight of the Century” between Jay and the reigning champion, a White boxer. Jay is ready to seize the title from his aging opponent, who comes out of retirement just to fight him. Just by getting in the ring, Jay, a Black man, is seen as a threat to the White power structure.
Moments before the big fight, Jay’s sister Nina visits him. She warns Jay that if he wins, White people will use their perceived humiliation at the White boxer’s loss, as an excuse to unleash a wave of violence against Black people.
Does Jay fight to win the match, even if it puts Black lives at risk? Or does he let himself lose, and reinforce the racist perceptions that put him in the ring with “The Great White Hope” in the first place?
Set in a boxing ring and told in six rounds, THE ROYALE pits one man’s insistence on his right to his full humanity against a society that’s invested in keeping him down.
All SHOW PHOTOS BY T. CHARLES ERICKSON
meet The Characters
“THE SPORT” JACKSON
An ambitious and outspoken Black boxer who wants to become heavyweight champion of the world
Jay’s trainer; a Black man in his 50s
McKINLEY BELCHER III
A young, up-and-coming Black boxer who becomes Jay’s sparring partner
A White fight promoter and boxing referee who works closely with Jay
Jay’s fierce older sister