RUMBLE in the Jungle Rematch is launching in London on September 14th at Canada Water’s Dock X and will be running for a limited time.
For the first time ever, audiences will be transported to reimagine the legendary Muhammad Ali and George Foreman boxing match in Zaire in 1974.
From Muhammad’s pre-match trash talking to the step-by-step play-out of the fight where his famous rope-a-dope was performed, Rumble in the Jungle will take audiences on a journey to discover the greatest sporting event of the 20th Century.
The immersive events will be brought to life by an incredible live cast of actors, live music, and food and drink that will create authentic smells and tastes of the time.
Rumble in the Jungle rematch was written by Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu, known for his role as director of For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Hue Gets Too Heavy, a two-time Olivier nominated play.
Femi Temowo, acclaimed composer, and critically acclaimed jazz guitarist, known for working with high profile artists like Amy Winehouse and George Benson, will assume the role of Music Director.
The Voice had the opportunity to catch up with both men and learn more about the event, the process behind creating it, and its aims.
What is the purpose of Rematch?
Tristan: The mission statement is to take you back in time to sporting events that you may want to have always been to, but never had an opportunity to go to and relive that via the power of theatre and live art and live experiences.
It would be great to see as many people from the diaspora of Africa, whether that be the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo, Nigeria, wherever you come from, come and be part of the story
This fight was one of the most important boxing fights of all time. Rematch wants to take you back into the entire experience of having to go to the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the fight took place, re-learn a little bit more about the country at that particular time. We’ve pieced together bits of history and research from lots of different writing and interviews to come up with this whole experience.
There was also a music festival attached to that original event, the forgotten Zaire 74. An idea had been conceived of having a concert, which would bring together African American artists, and it featured the likes of James Brown, Sister Sledge, Celia Cruz, and Miriam Makeba, as well as so many more different artists from across the continents, and we want to recreate a very small part of that festival, the spirit of that festival to go with the fight.
How much work has gone into this?
Femi: By the time I’m done, I will probably have written something like an hour and 20 minutes of original music, and then another 40 minutes of arrangements of music that exists already. I spend a little bit of time every day, just thinking about different elements of the show, as I’ve discussed with Miguel, the director, and then just trying to come up with as many ideas as I can.
Multiple ideas for the same thing, because you get in a room and the directors will say I don’t like this one or I don’t like that one. Trying to convince people that they’ve travelled back in time is quite a feat to achieve, so you really have to be quite detailed in your thought process and in your research.
We expect that people will leave the show, feeling like they were there, on that night when Ali won and feeling that triumphant feeling
How does this compare to other things you have worked on in your career?
Tristan: This is the one of the biggest things I’ve done in terms of scale, and also in terms of pressure. Not just pressure in terms of how much we have to do, but what it means. This is probably one of the biggest immersive shows about Black people, featuring Black people about a Black country, this country has ever seen, I don’t think anything like this has been done before.
We have a huge responsibility to showcase Ali with dignity and complexity, we have a huge responsibility to showcase the Democratic Republic of Congo at that time, and we’re not going to try and recreate the entire country, you cannot do that. What we can do is tell some truths that we’ve seen, and we have a responsibility to do that with care, love, and respect.
What should people attending expect?
Tristan: This event will remind you and place you back in the feelings of that time, if you were from that time, but if you’re not, don’t worry, because you’re going to feel something brand new. You’re getting the closest thing you will ever have gotten to seeing Ali up close. When you do come and see this piece of work, it is going to be a once in a lifetime experience. We just want the audience to feel like they got to be part of something spectacular and spiritually evolving.
Femi: We expect that people will leave the show, feeling like they were there, on that night when Ali won and feeling that triumphant feeling, feeling like they can go out of that venue and go be incredible boxers themselves, or take that feeling into whatever the next day will hold for them. We are really trying to get people to just forget where they really are and believe where they are in that moment.
It would be great to see as many people from the diaspora of Africa, whether that be the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo, Nigeria, wherever you come from, come and be part of the story, because we get to tell our own stories and those stories are just stronger with our participation, and even if you’re not from one of those places, make sure you come along.
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