Jude Akuwidike, Franc Ashman and Martins Imhangbe join Nicholas Pinnock in the Bush Theatre’s knockout production of The Royale

Jude Akuwudike, Franc Ashman and Martins Imhangbe will join the cast of The Royale, alongside Nicholas Pinnock, who plays Jay ‘The Sport’ Jackson – the first black heavyweight boxing champion of the world. 

Nicholas Pinnock, as Jay ‘The Sport’ Jackson – the first black heavyweight boxing champion of the world.

Nicholas Pinnock, as Jay ‘The Sport’ Jackson – the first black heavyweight boxing champion of the world. Click the image to book your tickets for The Royale

Jude Akuwudike (Othello, Hamlet, Moon on a Rainbow Shawl) will play boxing trainer Wynton, while Franc Ashman (Peep Show, Tennison, DCI Banks) will reprise the role of Jackson’s sister Nina. Martins Imhangbe(Lionboy, Das Ding) will play Jackson’s sparring partner Fish.

The Royale, a Bush Theatre production, runs from 3 to 26 November at The Tabernacle in Notting Hill.

Written by award-winning American writer Marco Ramirez (Sons of Anarchy, Orange is the New Black), The Royale returns following the UK premiere and sell-out run in spring 2015 and will again be directed by the Bush Theatre’s Artistic Director Madani Younis.

Jay ‘The Sport’ Jackson dreams of being the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. But it’s 1905 and, in the racially segregated world of boxing, his chances are as good as knocked out.

Told in six rounds and set in a boxing ring, The Royale is inspired by the often overlooked story of Jack Johnson, a boxer who – at the height of the Jim Crow era – became the most famous and the most notorious black man on Earth.

Through the sights and sounds of the early 20th century boxing circuit, The Royale examines society’s relationship with our present-day cultural heroes and the responsibilities that are thrust upon them when they find themselves outside of the ropes.

The Royale is loosely based on the real-life story of Jack Johnson, whose story is one of great talent and triumph, but also racism and injustice. Despite Johnson being one of the greatest fighters who had ever lived, one newspaper wrote at the time of his first title fight: “If the black man wins, thousands and thousands of his ignorant brothers will misinterpret his victory as justifying claims to much more than mere physical equality with their white neighbors.”

The Royale will be staged at The Tabernacle as the Bush Theatre undergoes a major redevelopment of its building. The venue, a former church, swinging sixties hang-out, community centre and, more recently, a training ground for young boxers, continues to host amateur boxing matches to this day.

The Royale - Actors and director.

The Royale – Actors and director. Click the image to book your tickets for The Royale

Jude Akuwudike’s recent theatre credits include The Crucible (Bristol Old Vic), Hamlet Asylum Seeker(Talawa/BandBazi), Othello (Actors From The London Stage/USA Tour/Cockpit Theatre, London), Ignorance(Hampstead Theatre), Moon On A Rainbow Shawl (National Theatre), The Faith Machine (Royal Court). TV and film credits include Friday Night Dinner (Channel 4), Lucky Man (Sky1) Cucumber (Channel 4), Holby CityUndercoverMoses Jones (all BBC), Beasts of No Nation (dir. Cary Fukunaga) and The Tempest (dir. Julie Taymor).Jude Akuwudike’s recent theatre credits include The Crucible (Bristol Old Vic), Hamlet Asylum Seeker (Talawa/BandBazi), Othello (Actors From The London Stage/USA Tour/Cockpit Theatre, London), Ignorance (Hampstead Theatre), Moon On A Rainbow Shawl (National Theatre), The Faith Machine(Royal Court). TV and film credits include Cucumber (Channel 4), Holby City, Undercover, Moses Jones (all BBC), Beasts of No Nation (dir. Cary Fukunaga) and The Tempest (dir. Julie Taymor).

Franc Ashman boasts an impressive list of theatre credits having performed extensively for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Out of Joint under the direction of Max Stafford-Clark and the National Theatre. Recent screen credits include Wagstaffe, TennisonDCI Banks and Apple Tree Yard. She played Molly in the latest series of Peep Show for Channel 4.

Franc Ashman boasts an impressive list of theatre credits having performed extensively for the Royal Shakespeare Company, National Theatre and acclaimed theatre company Out of Joint under the direction of Max Stafford-Clark. Recent screen credits include Tennison, DCI Banks & Apple Tree Yard. Franc lent her voice to the soundtrack of the Gary Oldman penned feature film Nil By Mouth and can be heard singing the theme song ‘Peculiar Groove’. She played Molly in the latest series of Peep Show for Channel 4.

Martins Imhangbe recently played the title role in Luce at Southwark Playhouse. His Other theatre includes Lionboy (Complicite), Das Ding (New Diorama),Romeo and Juliet (Orange Tree Theatre), Cinderella: A Fairytale (Unicorn Theatre), Street Stories (Royal opera House) and Sold at the Edinburgh Fringe, which won the Amnesty Freedom of Expression Award. Martins trained at Central School of Speech and Drama.

Nicholas Pinnock is a British theatre, television and film actor who has recently appeared in programmes such as ITV’s Marcella and Sky’s Fortitude. He has also appeared in Channel 4′s award-winning drama, Top Boyhe played Dr Evan Farleigh in ITV’s The Ice Cream Girls and starred in the sequel to Monsters, in Monsters: Dark Continent.

Madani Younis took over as Artistic Director of the Bush Theatre in 2012. In 2013 he won the Groucho Club Maverick Award for the theatre, following the most successful season in the theatre’s history which played to 99% capacity. Also for the Bush Theatre he has directed Perseverance Drive and Chalet Lines. Prior to his appointment at the Bush Theatre, he was Artistic Director of Freedom Studios in Bradford, Yorkshire where his work included the site-specific work, The Mill – City of Dreams. He has also worked nationally and internationally as a theatre director, writer and practitioner. Whilst at Freedom Studios he collaborated with the Bush Theatre through workshops culminating in Freedom’s two week residency in 2010 at the theatre. He was previously Director of Red Ladder Theatre Company’s Asian Theatre School. He originally trained in film, and his debut short film Ellabellapumpanella, commissioned by the UK Film Council, was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2007. He was the recipient of the Decibel Award at the South Bank Awards show in 2006.