PRIZE Fighter brings Australian Congalese playwright Future D Fidel home for two performances of his Helpmann Award nominated play before a home crowd at Logan Entertainment Centre.
The Griffith University and Sunnybank High graduate said the audience would include friends and former classmates. No pressure, then?
“It does make me nervous – more than usual,” Fidel said.
“Some will have seen it before. Others have not. For those who have not, it will be interesting to hear what they think.”
The La Boite Brisbane theatre company production will transform Logan Entertainment Centre into a live boxing ring and stage for the story of a young Congolese boxer preparing for a national title fight as he battles rivals in the ring and demons from his boy soldier past.
Fidel has never boxed or been a child soldier but his play is informed by childhood. Orphaned at age 13, he and his sister fled the Congo when his village was threatened by soldiers during civil unrest. They lived for years in a Tanzania camp before he came to Australia as a refugee.
Prize Fighter is Fidel’s first full length play. It premiered at La Boite and Brisbane Festival in 2105. It was nominated for best new Australian work and the production for best play at the 2016 Helpmann Awards.
Critics called it ‘visceral’. Audiences experience it as if seated ringside to the action while the players trade sweaty blows.
“It’s all highly choreographed but the actors, they come from a sports background. One boxed from childhood, another comes from a football background,” he said.
“They work hard from start to finish. The sweat – that is real.”
Most who attend want to sit close to the action. Fidel however, prefers to watch from “somewhere up the back”.
“What I like is to see how people react it all,” he said.
Fidel said the play delivered some cold hard facts about the Congo – he hopes to return to visit some day – but audiences can take home what they want from the experience.
“You hope people get the message but someone will get something from it, others something else. I’ve tried to make it journey across a lot of different emotions,” he said.
Fidel, meanwhile, is a star on the rise. He penned, directed and stars in a 2017 boy meets girl romantic comedy called Red Flag and is putting the finishing touches on his new play Belle Epoche, commissioned by Melbourne’s Malthouse Theatre Company.
He remains fond of the city he called home for his first five years in Australia, its residents – made up of 200 plus different nationalities – and remembers with a particular fondness the African barber shops near Woodridge railway station where he and friends liked to congregate.
“When you’re in Logan, you’re in every city in the world. There are so many cultures and you can experience them all,” he said.
“They say Australia is multicultural but I’m not sure I agree. It is Logan that is multicultural.”
- See Prize Fighter at Logan Entertainment Centre, Thursday, September 13 and Friday, September 14 at 7.30pm. Book tickets here