Fetch Clay, Make Man
by Will Power
originally produced at McCarter Theatre Center,
through February 14, 2010
McCarter Theatre will stage the world-premiere of Fetch Clay, Make Man by Will Power, the multi-award winning creator of Flow, The Seven, Five Fingers of Funk and The Gathering. Based on the historical and unlikely friendship between former Hollywood film actor Stepin Fetchit and heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali, Fetch Clay, Make Man tells the story of two wildly divergent public figures whose struggle to establish their careers and public identities helped change the image of black men in America.
Playwright, hip-hop pioneer, rapper and educator Will Power was drawn to the story of Fetch Clay, Make Man after he found a photograph in a bookstore of Muhammad Ali and Stepin Fetchit sharing a private moment. He was surprised to see the pairing, and set about investigating the story behind the photo. Set in the mid-1960s, Fetch Clay, Make Man explores the true friendship of two icons of black identity. Ali was in his prime, while Fetchit had gone from being the first black Hollywood actor to become a millionaire to becoming a reviled symbol of an offensive and damaging stereotype. Fetch Clay, Make Man explores the lessons being handed down across generations, and the power inherent in reshaping ourselves from the images of our ancestors.
Will Power is an astounding theater artist, engaging some of the most exciting issues of our time as he crafts vital, muscular and powerful language as only a musician can. From the moment he first proposed the idea of Fetch Clay, Make Man, we were taken by his passion for a play that would examine identity, manhood and the public image of two exceedingly different African-American men. Will became the playwright-in-residence at McCarter for two years while he wrote Fetch Clay, Make Man, meeting with members of our community, conducting workshops, listening to readings of his drafts, and becoming a critical part of the life of this theater.
Now, he’s finished this triumphant new play, and it’s with enormous pleasure that McCarter will be premiering it on the Berlind Stage in our 2009-2010 season. Set around the controversial 1965 re-match between boxers Sonny Liston and Muhammed Ali, this play tells the story of two unlikely friends, drawn together by their deep need for what each has to offer the other. Fetch Clay, Make Man grapples with the notion of how a public figure finds an outer persona that matches the inner man. Remarkably, one of the greatest boxers of all time emerges from the collision of two great characters of the last century.