The cast of And in This Corner: Cassius Clay has been training for their fight scenes at two local boxing gyms; McConnell's Boxing Academy and the Matt Dishman Community Center. La'Tevin Alexander, who plays Cassius, wrote us about his experience rehearsing such a physically challenging show:
"The training process has been very rewarding and very exhausting at the same time. Before we began rehearsals I was training 3 days a week (Tuesdays, Thursdays, & Fridays) for about a month. I have been working diligently on showing the gradual growth of Ali's famous floating and shuffles in the ring. The only other training I've done is watch nearly all of his fights several times.
So this show has been a continuation of learning how to box. I recently did a reading about a boxer here in Portland with Damaris Webb (who plays Odessa Clay in And in This Corner) on a play titled Left Hook. So I came into this process with some basic information and skills. But the most challenging thing for me was preparing to portray Muhammad Ali's unorthodox style while taking orthodox styled training sessions.
My favorite thing about learning how to box is how it makes you feel relieved, confident, and empowered. I most definitely will continue training even after the show. I may play another boxer some day.
I very much appreciate all the people that has helped me along with my training both in the gym and rehearsals. Theatre is one of the true collaborative art forms and this production proved to be no different. This play is the gonna hit home with boxing fans and with theatre fans because everyone from all has had a great contribution to the production. So that makes me really excited for people to see the show."
And in This Corner: Cassius Clay runs March 3–25 at the Winningstad Theatre in downtown Portland.