StageOne Family Theatre, in partnership with the Muhammad Ali Center and the Kentucky Center, will hold a press conference on Thursday, August 21, at 10 a.m. in the Auditorium of the Muhammad Ali Center to announce their upcoming New Play Development Series project, And In This Corner…Cassius Clay; which will serve over 25,000 area school children at little to no cost. Press conference speakers will include Mayor Greg Fisher, JCPS Superintendent Dr. Donna Hargens, and Playwright Idris Goodwin; along with Executive leaders Peter Holloway (Producing Artistic Director, StageOne), Donald E. Lassere (President and CEO, Ali Center), and Kim Baker (President, The Kentucky Center).
With more than 30 world premieres over its long history, StageOne Family Theatre has always been committed to the creation of new plays for young audiences. Focusing on human rights issues, StageOne reached out to nationally acclaimed playwright Idris Goodwin to commission a new play on a young Cassius Clay, now known as Muhammad Ali, who grew up in a deeply segregated Louisville, KY. StageOne felt it was important to share Ali’s boyhood story, through the eyes of Goodwin, with the youth in this community in order to preserve Ali’s legacy and inspire the next generation of young leaders.
Sharing similar missions of inspiration and compassion, the Muhammad Ali Center and The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts were immediately approached as partners in this project. Collectively, a dual-venue experience was established for students grades four through twelve, providing them the opportunity to not only experience the play in the state-of the-art Bomhard Theater at the Kentucky Center, but also to tour the world-renowned Muhammad Ali Center at little to no cost. This collaboration aims to serve more than 25,000 students in just under a month.
“Our investment in the arts is truly an investment in the future of our community,” said Dr. Donna Hargens, JCPS Superintendent. “The arts not only teach empathy, but build connections between students and the world around them; empowering each young mind with the ability to think for themselves and consider the kind of person they want to be.”
This project aligns with the Muhammad Ali Center’s goal of empowering young people to find their voice and become leaders in social justice issues.
“The Muhammad Ali Center could not be more pleased about this community partnership that will provide a whole new generation with the inspiring story of Muhammad Ali’s youth,” said Donald Lassere, President and CEO of the Muhammad Ali Center. “We hope this theatrical rendition furthers the community pride in Louisville’s hometown hero, provides motivation for our young people to pursue greatness, and creates more excitement about Muhammad Ali’s legacy and its Louisville connection.”
Both organizations are proud to provide this opportunity to so many students across the community, many of whom would never be exposed to the arts outside of their schools. This experience would not be possible without the support and cooperation of The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, which strives to provide artistically diverse performances of the highest quality. Since The Center’s opening in 1983, StageOne Family Theatre has been THE resident theater group of the Moritz Von Bomhard Theater; and continues to operate in tandem with the Kentucky Center through education and initiatives which expand and diversify audiences while enhancing their understanding, appreciation and support for the arts.
“The Kentucky Center is excited about this partnership because it harnesses our collective expertise to provide a very powerful and important educational experience to the youth in our community,” said Kim Baker, president of the Kentucky Center. “We strive to work with many organizations in an effort to grow our state’s arts heritage and to fulfill our mission. We are also proud to be a leader in the Compassion movement along with Mayor Fischer and other organizations. The Kentucky Center is fully committed to upholding the Charter for Compassion with elements such as empowerment, transparency, hospitality and abundance in all that we do.”
In total, And In This Corner…Cassius Clay will run for 41 performances from January 20 – February 15, 2015. A preview night gala is planned for Saturday, January 17, 2015, Ali’s 73rd birthday. Justin Cornwell, a Chicago-based actor who graduated from Louisville’s Eastern High School and continued his education at the University of Louisville, is cast as Cassius.
Public performances are scheduled for January 19, 24 and 31, and February 7 and 14. Ticket buyers will also have the opportunity to experience the play and tour the Ali Center as both organizations will be offering discounts when they show their ticket stub. For more information about the dual field trip at the Kentucky Center and Muhammad Ali Center, visit this link: http://www.stageone.org/field-
ABOUT THE PLAY
StageOne Family Theatre Presents
And In This Corner…Cassius Clay
There have been African American sports heroes whose celebrity helped shine light on the struggles of the communities from which they emerged, but there was no one more colorful, dynamic and larger than life than the one and only, the true greatest of all time, Muhammad Ali. Before he shook up the world he was just Cassius Clay, Jr., from Louisville, and the Louisville where he grew up in the 1950s was not like Louisville today…
ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT, IDRIS GOODWIN
is a playwright, spoken word performer and essayist. His play developed at the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, premiered in Actors Theatre’s 2012 Humana Festival and is being produced at theaters across the country. Goodwin is currently developing new stage works with Denver Center Theatre Company, as well as his world premiere with StageOne Family Theatre. (co-written with Kevin Coval for Steppenwolf Theatre Company) was selected for the 2014 New Visions/New Voices program at the Kennedy Center. Goodwin is a Core Writer for The Playwrights’ Center and has enjoyed writing residencies with Berkeley Repertory Theatre and the New Harmony Project. (Write Bloody, 2011), his debut collection of essays and poetry, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He’s performed on HBO, The Discovery Channel, and National Public Radio. Goodwin teaches performance writing and hip hop aesthetics at Colorado College.