One Night in Miami stars put their weight behind local boxing school

26 Jun 2019

Stars of Bristol Old Vic’s latest production One Night in Miami… (presented by Nottingham Playhouse) made a special visit to Empire Fighting Chance at their boxing club in Easton this morning ahead of their opening performance in the city. They were put through their paces by the young people at the club – some of whom will be guests of honour at the opening night at Bristol Old Vic this evening.

Conor Glean, who stars as Cassius Clay and Miles Yekinni, who plays football icon Jim Brown, met with a group of young boxers and the boxing school’s coaches to discuss the issues facing young people in the city and find out more about the charity’s mission.

Miles Yekinni today said, “It was great to be able to come down and speak to the young people at Empire Fighting Chance and see them in action. It’s been fascinating to find out more about the work of this brilliant place today and get a bit of a warm up, but I was glad they went easy on us! Many of the young people there have never been to the theatre before so we look forward to returning the favour and seeing them at Bristol Old Vic – I can’t wait to see how they react to One Night in Miami...!”

Conor Glean (back right) and Miles Yekinni (front right) – Photography by Kane Rich - Empire Fighting Chance

The production – set at the height of the civil rights movement – focuses on four friends, all on the cusp of becoming legends: newly crowned heavyweight champion Cassius Clay (Conor Glean), activist Malcolm X (Christopher Colquhoun), American football star Jim Brown (Miles Yekinni) and soul singer Sam Cooke (Matt Henry).

In the show, Matt Henry, Olivier Award-winner and star of BBC’s The Voice will be singing some of Cooke’s most iconic songs – including the renowned anthem, ‘A Change Is Gonna Come.’

Conor Glean said, “The play really delves in to what it meant to be a black male during the civil rights movement and the influence of Cassius Clay’s friends on the direction he chose to take. I think these discussions are still very relevant today and it was great to be able to talk to the kids about how they can relate to the issues explored in the production.”

Empire Fighting Chance is a charity born on Bristol’s streets to fight the impact of deprivation on the lives of young people. They use a powerful combination of non-contact boxing and intensive personal support to challenge and inspire young people to realise their unique potential.

Empire Fight Chance and Bristol Old Vic were both visited by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex earlier this year, as the royal couple were keen to shine a light on the work both organisations do with young people.

Bristol Old Vic Producer Catherine Morgenstern said today, “We were waiting for just the right show to come along to allow us to call up Empire Fighting Chance and invite them and their young people down to the theatre to see a story on stage that would be the perfect fit, as well as give us a chance to visit them and see if our very own Cassius Clay might pick up a few tips!

“Providing sporting or creative opportunities for young people are two sides of the same coin – they both build self-confidence, help find your voice, demonstrate team work and champion equality. And most importantly, making these opportunities open to everyone no matter their background.”

Empire Fighting Club boxers Evan and Jamie with One Night in Miami stars Miles Yekinni and Conor Glean (Photos by Kane Rich - Empire Fighting Chance)

Bristol Old Vic is the longest continuously running theatre in the UK, and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2016. The historic playhouse aims to inspire audiences with its own original productions, both at home and on tour, whilst nurturing the next generation of artists, whether that be through their 350-strong Young Company, their many outreach and education projects or their trailblazing artist development programme, Bristol Ferment.

They use their funding to support experiment and innovation, to allow access to their programme for people who would not otherwise encounter it, or be able to afford it, and to keep their extraordinary heritage alive and animated.

On 24 Sep 2018, Bristol Old Vic completed its 2-year multi-million pound redevelopment project, which transformed its front of house space into a warm and welcoming public building for all of Bristol to enjoy, created a new studio theatre and opened up its unique theatrical heritage to the public for the first time.

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