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Fetch Clay, Make Man is a sharp and crisp play that details an odd and intimate relationship. It is between a man at the end of a career and one whose career was on the launching pad. A man who was a Catholic and a man who was a recent convert to Islam. A man who took painful stereotypes of African Americans and turned them to his advantage and a man who took those painful stereotypes and threw them off in disgust.
The two men are comedian and film actor Stepin Fetchit, and Cassius Clay, the boxer also known as Muhammad Ali.
The two men came together just before Ali’s second bout with Sonny Liston. Fetchit had been close to boxer Jack Johnson who was known for his “anchor punch.” Ali has called him in to teach him that punch. What transpires is a whole lot more about these men’s dramatically and diametrically opposed viewpoints.
Playwright Will Power has captured the characters of Fetchit and Ali with a dimensionality that one covets in a play. As it poignantly looks at the issue of racism through two different lenses, two powerful and intelligent men represent each side. During the civil rights movement of the ’60s, many in the black community saw Fetchit as an Uncle Tom, others saw him as subversive. In fact, his “laziest man in the world” character mocked the white man’s stereotype and thus gave him ownership of it. Perhaps Fetchit states it best when he says to Ali, “I snuck in the back door so you could walk in the front door.”
Read the full post on TheAndygram.