Delaware Theatre Company delivers a 1-2 punch bringing sports history and racial unrest to the stage debuting October 25th with the one-man powerhouse performance of DARE TO BE BLACK. Against the backdrop a less tolerant world at the turn of the 20th century USA, Jack Johnson, the first acknowledged black heavyweight boxer (1908-1915) tells his story, first hand, by solo performer and play author, Tommie J. Moore. This hard-hitting journey starts throwing poetic punches October 25-November 12, 2017. Tickets are on sale starting at $25 and can be purchased online at DelawareTheatre.org or by calling our Box Office at (302) 594-1100.
Before Muhammed Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard, there was champion boxer Jack Johnson. Nicknamed “The Galveston Giant,” his physical stature was threatening, yet he had a gentle charm. He was a storyteller and he captured the hearts – and in some cases, the hatred – of the crowds.
“Jack Johnson was an African American before his time”, says Moore. “He did things in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s that some would call suicide.” A controversial figure in the boxing ring and in his personal life Johnson made headlines for his interracial relationships during the Jim Crowe era. After winning the boxing’s heavyweight champion title against Tommy Burns in 1908, he later married the love of his life, Etta Duryea, a white woman, in 1910. Johnson then became the target of white supremacists. They sought after a white boxer who could defeat him, naming that elusive opponent “The Great White Hope.” The aftermath of his victory caused Johnson to suffer great depression, leaving at least 23 dead due to racial incidents. Ultimately, Johnson was arrested twice for illegal transport of white women across state lines. He was arrested and convicted spending a year in prison.
Tommie Moore wrote the story as a monologue in a week and revised it afterwards adding stage directions. He composed the play as he saw it “in his head” while skipping rope and doing other routine training activities. The passion that drove Moore to write his play was his need to tell the story. Over a century later, there is movement to have Johnson posthumously pardoned. Moore stated, “I know he’s passed away, but this is more about the need for an apology”, and a pardon would bring focus to the forgotten boxer and the racism that stigmatized the memory of his career. Republicans John McCain and Peter King and Democrat Donald Meeks proposed the pardon but the request was denied. Moore continues to fight that personal fight with the message in his play.
Aspirations of bringing DARE TO BE BLACK to the stage has landed Moore’s play at the Delaware Theatre Company and Executive Director, Bud Martin. “I trust Bud because he has been honest with me,” said Moore, hoping Martin will take his play further.
Moore’s next project is the DARE TO BE BLACK screenplay. Stay tuned!
Institutional Summary: Currently in our 39th season, Delaware Theatre Company (DTC) is Delaware’s premier non-profit professional theatre. Recognized as a cornerstone in the Brandywine Valley’s rich cultural landscape, DTC has produced nearly 200 plays for over one million residents and visitors in its community. For more than two decades, DTC has been a pioneer in the revitalization of Wilmington’s Christina Riverfront and cultural district as the only LORT theatre in the state. Delaware Theatre Company has developed four new musicals: Something Wicked This Way Comes (September 2017), based on the novel by Ray Bradbury, with book by Brian Hill and music and lyrics by Neil Bartram, Diner (December 2015) by Barry Levinson and Sheryl Crow, which broke a 37-year box office record, Maurice Hines‘ Tappin’ Thru Life (September 2015), Because of Winn-Dixie (April 2015) by Duncan Sheik and Nell Benjamin. Since Bud Martin‘s arrival in 2012, DTC has seen a 54% increase in subscribers and a 234% increase in single ticket buyers, making Delaware Theatre Company an up and coming player in regional theater.
This organization is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com