Premiering at Toronto’s Fringe Festival, Robin Black‘s (UFC, MUCHMUSIC, TSN) Enjoy the Hostilities walks us through his transition from glam rock singer, to mixed martial artist, to television personality. Co-written by Graham Isador (VICE, Soulpepper Playwright’s unit) the show uses storytelling, comedy, and punch drunk philosophy to offer audiences advice on how to make the most out of almost making it.
As a preview to its premiere, Black answered my 5 Questions.
HM: For those in Toronto who may not know your entire story, let’s start after your “close call” seizure in 2006. At this time, you decided to leave the world of glam rock and all its vices to become a mixed martial artist, to television personality This career move affected your whole life. Could you share how you navigated this transition from music to Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)/TV personality both professionally and personally?
Robin Black (RB): To become a fighter I really had to overhaul my life. The recommended way to change you life is by cultivating a single new positive habit at a time over months. But I didn’t have the time. I had to go from the worst lifestyle to the most regimented, over night, and I did. I began training every day and then twice a day. I immediately went to a strict clean diet. It was hard but I did it.
Personally speaking, it was hard. The woman I was with thought I had lost my mind and left me a few months in. I went from being in bars and concert venues all night to being up at 6 am to train. So I never saw my friends. It was hard. but I’m so happy i did it. My life now is so thrilling and fulfilling and, without this life change, I wouldn’t be here today.
HM: As your life has progressed, you have become well respected as a MMA analyst. There have been ups and downs over time. How or when did you think all of this would be an idea for a performance piece?
RB: I’ve been vaguely aware that my life is different and my path is unique. It’s the only life I have so I can’t compare it. But people sometimes talk about being ‘inspired’ by my passion and my drive. And the life that I’ve created for myself. So the idea of sharing the ‘flowchart’ of how to live a life of adventure started to take shape.
HM: Picking up from my last question… I am aware Graham [Isador] interviewed you a few years back for VICE. How did the two of you decide to work together on Enjoy the Hostilities?
RB: Once I had the idea of telling my life story as a ‘How To’ (or ‘How Not To?’) roadmap, doing it with Graham was the only real option I entertained. Graham and I are close friends, and I love his work. And I think we share a ton of similarities in how we see the world, but I think we’re really different too. I just knew it would work. And I like to work with friends. When you work a lot, doing projects with friends is the best way to get to spend time with them.
HM: Could either or both of you describe the process of writing Enjoy the Hostilities? I’m particularly curious about how comedy, storytelling, punch drunk philosophy are pivotal in the process.
RB: We made each other laugh and told each other stories about philosophy while dunk. No punches were thrown though thankfully.
HM: Without giving too much away, how did the two of you decide which of Robin’s life moments would be the focus of this piece?
RB: It was really important to me that we had ‘life lessons’ from each story, little nuggets that people could use without having to get their stomachs pumped or get kicked in the head to learn them. So we chose adventures that had clear consise take-away lessons. At least I hope we did.
Enjoy the Hostilities will run at the Toronto Fringe from July 4 – 15 at the Bovine. For more details and tickets, click here.