By Future D. Fidel
Director Todd MacDonald

  • Venue Upstairs Theatre
  • Dates 6 – 22 January 2017
  • Duration 65 minutes (no interval)

    A Congolese refugee getting by in the Australian suburbs, Isa has a background that seems unimaginable in his new country – a childhood as a boy soldier, fighting for the same forces that massacred his family. Now, he has a chance to gain fame and fortune. Isa’s a brilliant boxer, and he has a shot at the national title. But his most difficult opponent isn’t in the ring – it’s the terrors of his past.

    I saw this show at La Boite in Brisbane and it’s a real event – theatre made of storytelling and sport, led by two astonishing performances. Its writer, Future D. Fidel, fled the Congo as a child and lived in a Tanzanian camp for eight years before being granted refugee status. I’m thrilled it will find a Sydney home at Belvoir, and I’m thrilled to welcome Pach Mzembe back to Belvoir for the first time since Gwen in Purgatory. – Eamon

    A La Boite Theatre Company & Brisbane Festival production co-presented with Sydney Festival


    Writer Future D. Fidel
    Director Todd MacDonald
    Dramaturg Chris Kohn
    Designer Bill Haycock
    Lighting Designer David Walters
    Assistant Lighting Designer Christine Felmingham
    Composer & Sound Designer Felix Cross
    Sound Design Remix Busty Beatz
    Video Designer optikal bloc
    Movement & Fight Director Nigel Poulton
    Stage Manager Heather O’Keefe


    Margi Brown-Ash
    Thuso Lekwape
    Gideon Mzembe
    Pacharo Mzembe
    Zindzi Okenyo
    Kenneth Ransom





    Production images by Brett Boardman
    • Writer’s Note


      Future D. Fidel

      In a world that depends on technology, it’s hard to miss breaking news of an 8.9 magnitude earthquake that kills 19 people or the news about a massacre of five people in the middle of Europe. Surprisingly enough, if I asked you about one of the greatest mass killings in the world after WWII, I wouldn’t be surprised if you said the war in Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan. The death toll in these three countries combined is recorded to be approximately 371,000 people since 2001 according to Watson Institute’s Costs of War report. This is not close to half the great genocide of Rwanda that claimed almost a million lives.

      The Democratic Republic of Congo is well known for its richness in natural resources and minerals such as gold, diamond, coltan and petroleum to name a few. The most commonly used of these minerals this generation is coltan, which is used in smartphones, TVs, computers, laptops, etc. DRC holds 80 percent of the world’s coltan. Therefore, these minerals are a blessing to those who use smartphones and electronics, but a curse for the people living in Congo.

      The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has reported a death toll of 5.4 million Congolese since 1996. That’s a quarter of Australia’s current population. The war in Congo has created hundreds of child soldiers and resulted in a high level of rape of young and old women. Prize Fighter is a mythical story inspired by personal experiences of these wars, and resonates around trauma from family loss and motivations of the DR Congo. This story is not about statistics, but outlining the reality of what is not being shown, through the power of boxing. Defeating your opponent requires strategy, but defeating your memories requires more than just that. Regardless of who or what your opponent is, everyone is a Prize Fighter.

    • Director’s Note


      Todd MacDonald

      Prize Fighter has evolved from a relationship La Boite developed with Future D. Fidel over the past three years. His story captured our imagination and his energy and positivity infected us immediately. In the first instance I want to acknowledge and thank Chris Kohn and David Berthold for their commitment, in developing and programming this play at Brisbane Festival in 2015.

      Part of this work reflects Future’s story, his history. Part is a fiction but the stories are real and everything in this work derived from real situations that Future experienced directly or indirectly. Future has become a new Australian after fleeing the Congo as a teen and Prize Fighter is a new Australian story, a vital story that shares his journey and experiences and in so doing enriches our lives.

      The idea of the “Prize Fighter” is aspirational – it is a place where talent, determination and purpose resolve into action and so is the perfect vehicle for such a profound story of hardship and self-realisation.

      Isa is the main character and we share his personal struggle and are implicated in his journey to overcome his opponent and his own demons. It’s a battle that takes us from Australia to the Democratic Republic of Congo and back again.

      The Congo has been ravaged by war since 1996. It is a complex and volatile conflict where the civilian population has suffered the most. This conflict is driven by the resources that Congo is rich with, in particular coltan. Coltan is an ore from which tantalum and niobium derive.

      Both are vital in the production of many objects we hold as essential. Tantalum is named after the mythical Greek character Tantalus – and Niobe his daughter. The famed punishment of Tantalus by Zeus, for cannibalism and kin slaying, was to be eternally trapped under a fruit tree up to his waist in a pool of water, never being able to eat or drink either (thus tantalised) – temptation without satisfaction. This always struck me as a somewhat profound irony that the mineral that derives its name from this Greek myth is one that drives so much insatiable consumerist desire in our culture and directly contributes to the war and suffering in Congo.

      In some ways Future is here living in our country because of that desire. As La Boite Artistic Director, I am delighted that Sydney Festival and Belvoir are co-presenting this new Australian work in 2017.

      It has been a privilege to work on this production and with these artists. Facilitating this story has been profound and disturbing. However, what I have gained most from it is the overwhelming sense of hope that Future exudes. I hope you are infected by it and affected by his story.

    Keep up to date with the latest news at Belvoir