What would it take to get star actors, John Montanaro and Davide Tucci, into a boxing ring together? A script that packs one hell of a punch, that’s what. Teatru Malta – the national theatre company, has given the opportunity for young writer Andre Mangion to set the stage for Maltese theatre’s fight of the year with his original piece, Raymond ‘’Fight’’ Beck. But it’s not all about makeup, and memorising lines for these two thespians. Determined to fit into their roles like a glove , one of the greatest lessons these household names have to learn is that in order to beat their opponent, there is no greater opponent than their very selves.
VIDA sits down with both actors to get the inside scoop directly from the ring, while they gear up for fight night between the 10th and the 18th of March, at St James Cavalier theatre, Valletta.
May the best man win.
IT’S NO SECRET THAT YOU’VE PLAYED A NUMBER OF PARTS OVER THE YEARS, SO WHAT IS IT THAT MAKES RAYMOND AND DYSON TICK?
J: Raymond’s troubled past defines who he is today, but he was lucky enough to have the love of his grandmother and the discipline of boxing to help him and his brother remain on the right track. He is tough, not to be messed with; a hard worker and the sole provider for his family. All that matters to Raymond is family and boxing, in that specific order. Raymond is the protagonist who fights with the dedication of someone who has absolutely everything to lose.
D: Son of the mayor of Zejtun, Dyson is a professional boxer. He comes from a wealthy family and has always afforded to worry less about his financial stabilityin the face of pursuing what has developed into his real passion over the years – boxing. Normally, audiences are used to boxing being portrayed as a means of escaping from a life of hardship and adversity. But with Dyson things are different – he already has it all so why risk losing it? And in many ways this to me, adds that much more depth to my character.
WHY RAYMOND “FIGHT” BECK, WHY SAY YES?
J: I was intrigued by the script, and by the character of Raymond and I love the idea of integrating boxing into theatre, and St.James Cavalier is the perfect space for this play.
D: As in most cases, it’s all about the script. Andre’s writing is very captivating, and real. I could also immediately see the physical and emotional challenges this role brought to the table. Unlike film, bringing such a role to the theatre, especially one as intimate and ‘unforgiving’ as the St James theatre means there’s no cheating depending on the camera angle; there’s no getting away easy from it. The fighting, the emotions – every punch is real.
BOXING AND THEATRE FEEL LIKE POLAR OPPOSITES, DO YOU AGREE?
J: I think boxing and theatre are very similar, they are both require hard work, discipline and require perfect concentration and focus at all times in order to be on top of the game. Sports and theatre are great passions of mine, and I love seeing them come together in this way, I think it leaves a lot of space to be creative we are working hard to ensure the audience is blown away.
D: I love it. I am personally a very athletically driven individual. I enjoy physical challenges, I love them, I pursue them on a daily basis with my personal coach Daniel Zammit. The similarities are undeniably there between the two worlds – the joy which a successful show brings, the sorrow of failure, the struggle in getting it right – this all resonates in both worlds.
YOU SEEM LIKE YOU’VE BEEN DOING A LITTLE OF BOTH THE LAST FEW MONTHS, HOW HAS THAT PLAYED OUT?
J: I t’s actually surprisingly similar – the people at the Fight Factory are great, all offering advice and encouragement, and guidance. They are all totally dedicated and focused when it comes to working out, but we all like joking around and having some good laughs, during breaks. It has also been a real honor to be personally trained by ‘Super’ Steve Martin, who is a great guy and really patient with us. Same thing goes with rehearsals, a great bunch of people, totally focused, hardworking and disciplined, and great people to be around. It has been great experience for me so far.
D: The atmosphere is rough, tough, gritty, blood is everywhere, as are teeth which once made part of someone’s mouth, boxers ready to throw you down on the floor with just one stare – this is what I thought it would be – having never stepped into a boxing gym. Turns out the atmosphere is not as rough as I thought -although the fighters definitely are, once they’re in fight mode. Every single fighter inside the gym learns the values of discipline and respect, and one gets the feeling of a big family of fighters, who constantly help and support each other. No place for your ego, life struggles and mental stress – this is the place to let it all out and leave it behind.
ANYTHING OUR READERS OUGHT TO KNOW BEFORE BUYING TICKETS TO THE SHOW?
J: Can’t answer this without giving anything away, so I will leave it to the audience to decide.
D: Dyson’s struggle to learn to let go is something I feel a lot of audiences can relate to.
NOW REALLY IF RAYMOND AND DYSON WERE ACTUALLY IN A RING TOGETHER WHO WOULD WIN?
J: Raymond, no doubt, he has more heart! Now in real life if it was Montanaro vs Tucci ……………….? The fable of ‘the Tortoise and the hare’ comes to mind.
D: I would rather leave that question answered by the professionals – however I’d definitely place my bets on Dyson ‘Tosa Inu’ Cumbo. #TeamDyson
The rest of the stellar cast feature big names like Hector Bruno and will be directed by Sean Buhagiar. The production is being held in co-production with Spazju Kreattiv, and Andre Mangion through the support of the Malta Arts Fund.
To buy tickets please visit: www.teatrumalta.org.mt and/or the Spazju Keattiv booking office at St. James Cavalier, Valletta.
Raymond “Fight” Beck is a project supported by Arts Council Malta/ The Malta Arts Fund Project Support Grant, Teatru Malta, Spazzju Kreattiv and Eurosport.
2018 – Vida Magazine