A Boxing Star and the Women Who Watch Get NYC Premiere in Fighting Words, Feb. 6-March 7

News   A Boxing Star and the Women Who Watch Get NYC Premiere in Fighting Words, Feb. 6-March 7 Fighting Words, a play by Sunil Kuruvilla about a Welsh boxer who travels to Los Angeles for a championship fight — and the impact on the women of his hamlet — gets its New York premiere Feb. 6 in a staging by The Underwood Theater at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater in the Playwrights Horizons complex.

Liz Diamond directs the drama, which had its U.S. premiere at Yale Rep in fall 2002. Opening night is Feb. 16. Performances play to March 7.

Based on a true story, Fighting Words "tells the dramatic tale of Johnny Owen, a boxer from a small working-class Welsh town who travels to Los Angeles to compete in an international championship fight," according to production notes. "The events unfold through the story of three women from Johnny's hometown, each of whom has a unique passion for Johnny and his pursuits. Nia yearns for a career as a BBC radio announcer, and more importantly, an existence outside of small town life.  Her younger sister, the tomboyish Peg, idolizes Johnny. His drive fuels not only Peg's fantasy to be a worthy contender in the ring, but also a worthy sparring partner for Johnny.  Mrs. Davies is the sisters' landlady, who acts as a referee to their rivalry on the homefront. As the town's men journey across the Atlantic to support their local hero in his quest to become world champ, the women are left to cheer on Johnny from afar."

The action culminates as the women host a party at the town gym, watching the match on television.  Its shocking outcome leaves the small town reeling.

Director Liz Diamond is an associate professor (adjunct) of directing and acting chair of the department of directing at the Yale School of Drama.  She is resident director of Yale Repertory Theatre, where she has staged The Cure at Troy, The Skin of Our Teeth, Mrs. Warren's Profession, School for Wives and The America Play (also at the Joseph Papp Public Theater), among others.

Her cast for Fighting Words includes Marin Ireland, Jayne Houdyshell and Pilar Witherspoon. Designers are Tobin Ost (set), Jeff Croiter (lighting), Fitz Patton (sound), and Linda Ross (costumes).

The Underwood Theater's mission is to offer "promising writers unique opportunities to advance their work and grow as artists." Last season, The Underwood Theater presented its inaugural production, the world premiere of Buicks by Julian Sheppard, which was nominated for two Drama Desk awards (Outstanding Play and Outstanding Lead Actor/Norbert Leo Butz).

In addition to producing new work, The Underwood Theater curates Out Loud, a weekly reading series at the Ars Nova Theater (511 West 54th Street).  In less than two years, Out Loud has presented over 40 readings, including airings of Modern Orthodox by Daniel Goldfarb, directed by James Lapine; Henry Flamethrowa by John Belluso, directed by David Esbjornson; and A Clean House by Sarah Ruhl, directed by Moises Kaufman.

This limited Off-Broadway run is independent of the Playwrights Horizons season.

The Peter Jay Sharp Theater at Playwrights Horizons  is at 416 West 42nd Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenues. All tickets are $15. For information, call Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 or www.ticketcentral.com For more information, visit underwoodtheater.org.

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