Review Fix chats with actor Femi Olagoke about his performance in Reid Farringtonâ€™s â€œTyson vs. Ali,â€ a gripping new production that brings the long thought about dream bout to the stage.
Review Fix: How did you feel the first time you read the script?
Femi Olagoke: It was a non traditional process in getting the script for this show. We had been training for months, gathering material and watching videosÂ before it was put together by Frank Boudreaux. It was a collaborative process involving all the performers, director and writer. When the scriptÂ was finalized, it was exciting to see the different layers it had. When Reid and Frank approached me about doing the project I was intrigued by the concept and extremely intimidated. I knew as a performer I was going to be challenged in a way I’d never been before and that scared me which in turn made me want to do it right away. I always use fear as my determining factor when choosing a project.
Review Fix: How did you prepare for the role?
Olagoke: We all trained at Gleason’s gym in Brooklyn and learnt how to box and fight. I learnt everything from the basics of boxing including your stance,Â footwork, throwing jabs, punches, combinations and conditioning. We spent 2 months training rigorously in the gym learning how to move andÂ fight like Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali. Outside the boxing training, I incorporated weight training, yoga, calisthenics and dance. Added toÂ that was learning how speak Â and act like these two men studying lots of video footage and interviews.
Review Fix: What was it like to work with Reid Farrington?
Olagoke: It’s great working with Reid because he is a master at what he does and it was very detailed but an enjoyable experience! He brings out the bestÂ of people he works with and always gives great feedback and I love how passionate he is with his work.
Review Fix: For someone who hasn’t seen the show, how would you describe the multimedia aspect?
Olagoke: I think it’s very exciting to watch and gives the audience a new way of experiencing theater. It all ties in with the story that is being told and IÂ believe it’s an innovative and refreshing way of doing theater.
Review Fix: What’s your favorite part of the production? Why?
Olagoke: With this production, I got the opportunity to do all the things I dreamt of doing as an actor due to the large number of elements involved in theÂ show. Performing live and on film, I got to play different characters, be an athlete, play two iconic figures, be funny, emotional, dance andÂ fortunate enough to be telling the story of these two great men while being very precise with everything!
Review Fix: How do you want your performance to be remembered?
Olagoke: My hope is that it is remembered as being honest, sincere and true to who these men are.
Photo by Paula Court
For more information on the show, visitÂ www.3ldnyc.org.
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