The play tells the story of boxer Jay Jackson, the first African-American Heavyweight Champion of the World. It is loosely based on the real-life story of Jack Johnson, whose story is one of great talent and triumph, but also racism and injustice. Despite Johnson being one of the greatest fighters who had ever lived, one newspaper wrote at the time of his first title fight: "If the black man wins, thousands and thousands of his ignorant brothers will misinterpret his victory as justifying claims to much more than mere physical equality with their white neighbors." In a press statement, Bush Theatre artistic director Madani Younis, who will direct the play, commented, "Following in the tradition of Ayad Akhtar's Disgraced, and Jackie Sibblies Drury's We Are Proud to Present…, I am delighted to bring The Royale to UK audiences, an ambitious play from a new and as yet unheard American voice. I’m fascinated by the tale of a sporting hero who transcends his industry and becomes a major symbol in wider culture. Amir Khan, Janelle Monáe, Jay-Z: to me they are all Jay Jackson. I think the play will really speak to a UK audience when we think of today’s cultural heroes and the responsibilities that are thrust upon them."
The Bush season will also include world premieres of Caroline Horton's Islands (running Jan. 15-Feb. 21, with official opening Jan. 19) and Rebecca Lenkiewicz's The Invisible (running July 3-Aug. 15, with official opening July 8), as well as the London premiere of James Graham's The Angry Brigade (running April 30-June 13, with official opening May 5) that has previously toured.
To book tickets, contact the box office on 020 8743 5050 or visit www.bushtheatre.co.uk for more details.