Dare to be Black, which will play downtown Feb. 4-21, joins Lincoln Center Theater's production of Marco Ramirez's The Royale, starring Broadway vets Montego Glover and Clarke Peters. Both plays examine Johnson's famous 1910 boxing match with the undefeated former heavyweight champion James J. Jeffries. As an African-American in a time of segregation, his victory made history.
"Before Muhammad Ali, there was Jack Johnson," state Theater for the New City press notes. "Before Sugar Ray Leonard, Jack Johnson captured the hearts, and in some cases the hatred, of crowds. Although it’s more than a century since Johnson stepped into the ring for that blockbuster bout, his story will be spotlighted on the stage."
Dare to be Black is written and performed by Tommie J. Moore and directed by Rome Neal. The play is also part of a push to get a posthumous pardon for Johnson, who was convicted of violating the law for bringing his white girlfriend across state lines before their marriage in 1912.
LCT's production of The Royale will also examine Johnson's turbulent life and the world-famous fight. Helmed by Rachel Chavkin, performances will begin Feb. 11 with an official opening night set for March 7 at Off-Broadway's Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater.
Boxer Johnson was also the inspiration behind the acclaimed 1968 Broadway play The Great White Hope, which made a star of James Earl Jones. Theater for the New City’s Cino Theater is located at 155 First Ave., Manhattan. Visit Theaterforthenewcity.net for more information and to purchase tickets.