Nominated for Best Play at the 2016 Helpmann Awards, ‘Prize Fighter’ is currently touring across Australia.
We spoke to playwright Future D. Fidel whose experiences as a refugee from the war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo informed some of the story.
That story is about a young Congolese boxer named Isa rising fast in the rankings, but facing his greatest challenge in trying to grapple with his past as a child soldier. As Future notes, “Well I chose boxing because boxing plays as a great metaphor. So Isa when he was a child he was always fighting, he was always against someone and so boxing plays as a tool, as a vehicle to help Isa understand what he is battling against. So it’s not just the person in the ring, but his memories that he is fighting with.”
The writer doesn’t want to tell potential audiences what the play should mean to them, advising “Every audience [member] will take away something that another audience member may not have picked up. So I guess the audience should be able to expect a good performance, ready to laugh, ready to cry, it is very emotional.”
“I lost my dad, when I was young, maybe three years old. I didn’t get a chance to know and even understand and know his face. I lost my mother when I was 13 and that was about 2001.” Future recounts. This followed when they fled his home country, when it descended into war, in 1996/97 to neighbouring Tanzania. While the family returned in 1999 they left again in 2001, the same year that Future lost his mother, making him an orphan long before he arrived on Australian shores in 2005. After everything he had experienced, the young man says he was relieved to be coming to a country where he would be safe. “Australia is my home now,” he says, with him and all his remaining family members living in Brisbane.
Influenced by teachers at school when he was young and the importance his late mother placed on education including “The kind of sacrifices that she was able to give to make sure that I get an education and I got where she didn’t get”. Future graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering in 2013. However he does admit, “I guess that my electrical engineering was sort of my Plan B. During the course of my studies I was always also doing arts.” Following graduation, he became an artist in residence at La Boite Theatre Company which resulted in ‘Prize Fighter’.
Now all these years later when asked what got him through the tough times, fleeing war and enduring life as a refugee, he mentions faith. “For me personally, because I’m a Christian and my family have always been Christians and so I guess I had that in my mind, that you know it doesn’t matter how today is, tomorrow will always be another day and tomorrow you can always make a change so that was my motivation. That was my driving force whereby everything I did, I knew that today doesn’t matter because tomorrow’s coming... And so I think that’s why I had the courage to continue pushing on to see what else can come up, tomorrow or the day after that.”
With his critically acclaimed play continuing to resonate, tomorrow continues to come for the talented Future D. Fidel.
'Prize Fighter' Tour Dates
19-22 September – Newcastle Civic Theatre 25-28 September – Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre 3-6 October – Geelong Performing Arts Centre 9-20 October – Northcote Town Hall 23-24 October – Studio Theatre, Bunjil Place 26-27 October – George Jenkins Theatre, Frankston 31 October-3 November – Merrigong Theatre Compan