Tyson vs. Ali 2014
"The 10 best sports events of 2014. "Tyson vs. Ali" comes alive."
- Pia Catton The Wall Street Journal
TYSON vs ALI realizes the greatest heavyweight boxing match that never happened. The production drops my signature combination of live-action and lifted-video footage into a real boxing ring. Leather hits flesh, as “Iron Mike’s” brute pugilism goes toe-to-toe, literally, with the larger-than-life poetry (in word and foot) of “The Greatest.”
Fans of boxing could argue endlessly if Muhammad Ali’s legendary footwork, speed, and reach would be an effective antidote to Mike Tyson’s unparalleled fierceness in the ring were it possible for them to fight one another in their primes. However, this gym-rat’s irresolvable hypothetical is merely the physical frame for TYSON vs ALI.
What makes the realization of this fantasy theatrically compelling – set in a real boxing ring and taking place over “the championship distance” (12 rounds) of a real heavyweight bout – is that both of these boxers outshine their athletic reputations and achievements… for starkly different reasons.
Both fighters still loom large in the world’s cultural imagination; their stories carry special resonance for African-Americans; and both are major players in America’s cultural evolution. Ali’s extra-athletic activities included taking on “Uncle Sam and winning” in his deliberately public conscientious objection to and subsequent imprisonment during the Vietnam War, while Tyson’s controversial public history played out the all too common tragedy of the contemporary black male athlete – his super-talent exploited and extracted for all it was worth.
My precise video editing and projection techniques lift each boxer out of their respective careers and private histories and engage them with one another, creating a visual and acoustic battle between images and live performers. As the two champs punch, jab, block and weave in video projection, live stunt performers silhouette their every move, landing real blows, in a highly orchestrated dance.
Conceived & Directed: Reid Farrington
Story: Reid Farrington & Frank Boudreaux
Script: Frank Boudreaux
Choreography: Laura K Nicoll
Performers: Dennis A. Allen II, Roger Casey,
Femi Olagoke, Jonathan Swain, Dave Shelley
Video & Set Design: Simon Harding
Lighting Design: Laura Mroczkowski & Nick Ryckert
Costume Design: Karen Flood
Sound Design: Juan Aboites
Lead Editor/Asst. video design: Jeff Wood
Dir. of Photog/Asst video design: John Hurley
Asst. Director: Christopher Burris
Stage Manager: Cady Knoll Prod.
Assoc/Light Board: Akil Noel Prod.
Assoc/Sound Board: Matthew Carrington
Prod. Manager: A.P. Andrews
Video Mash Ups: Kelly Colburn
Asst. Lighting Designer: Elliott Jenetopulos
Asst. Stage Manager: Stacy Arnaiz
Makeup Designer: Jennifer Snowdon
Special Effects Makeup: Shenna Vaughn
Original Music: Marco Panella
Technical Dir.: Taylor Riccio
Ring Construction: Art Domantay
Asst. Editor: Najee Gardner Asst. Makeup Artist: Jillian McMahon Fight Trainer: Martin Gonzales
Crew: Van Orilia, Amy Singerman, Kate Conover, Kayla Goble, Rafael Cubela, Tavish Miller, Brian Trainor, Phil Rossi, Paul Peers, Luis Moreno, Chris Dennison, Andrew Ricci
Special Thanks: Sara Farrington, Mickey Ryan, Coriel Gaffney, Gleason’s Gym, Bruce Silverblade, Santelises Neuky, Abrons Arts Center, New York Theater Workshop, Paul Bradley, John Anselmo, Kevin R. Free, Sue Wallace, Greg Tiefenbrun and Lagunitas Brewing Co