Taofique Folarin talks about his new role in PROUD

PROUD is writer Bren Gosling’s adaptation of his award-winning novel The Street Sweeper and is coming to the King’s Head Theatre in Islington with Taofique Folarin in the main role. Taofique told Stephen Vowles more about the play and what he’s been up to during lockdown.

Hi Taofique, what drew you to the role of Roland?

I was attracted to the play because it is an important story yet to be told. As queer people, we all have a journey to go on when it comes to self-acceptance and this piece explores that and the complexities that come with it and how those affect our relationships with others. Roland’s Jamaican background really resonated with me as it is culturally similar to my own. I always get excited about roles that not only improve the much-needed visibility of BME queer people, but which also give voice to their unique and individual experiences, as this one does.

Do you think more plays that place LGBTQ+ issues at their heart should be seen by a wider audience?

Yes the stories of BME and LGBTQIA+ communities are really important for the wider community to see and hear. Theatre is an extremely powerful tool for change – by exposing us to different cultures and experiences, theatre enables us to deepen our understanding, empathy, and connection with those unlike ourselves.

In PROUD, Roland must navigate two complicated relationships. How have you found exploring these in the rehearsal room?

Well, we are still in the very early stages of rehearsals, but I am very lucky and grateful to be working with a marvellous team. Our director Marlie Haco has a very thorough process which is allowing us to leave no stone unturned and involves supporting us to dig deep into the emotional lives of our characters. I am excited as the piece will also be very physical and movement will be used as a tool to express and navigate the play’s central relationships. My fellow actors Andrei Maniata (Amir), Kaine Hatukai (Gary) and I are all working very hard to try and ensure we truthfully portray the lives of the characters and their backgrounds.

What do you hope audiences will take from PROUD?

There is something within each character that I hope the audience will be able to relate to, but I hope they will also learn something new and be reminded of the power of connection. Most of all, I hope that the play will spark conversations and leave audiences wanting to know more about the experiences of queer and marginalised people.

How was lockdown for you?

Lockdown for me, like for many others, was challenging, but also very rewarding. Being forced to change the way I work, and move to an entirely online format took me some time to adjust to. I was very grateful however for the time it gave me to reflect and refocus on myself. The two industries I’m involved in – theatre and fitness – were hit very hard so it is nice that they are finally starting to bounce back. I was a part of two shows which were unfortunately cancelled due to Covid: ‘Instrumental’ by Alexis Gregory and also ‘Safe’ by Alexis Gregory, which we then adapted and delivered virtually. Overall, I count myself as one of the lucky ones and my heart goes out to those who are still struggling and who continue to be affected by the pandemic.

Outside of your acting, are you still also involved in fitness? What else do you do in your spare time?

Yes, I am still very much involved in fitness, and am proud to say I was voted men’s health coach of the year in 2020. If you want to train with me you can come and join me for a class at Barry’s Boot Camp or get in touch for one-on-one coaching at

What’s coming for you in the future?

That is a great question, but in truth, right now I’m focusing on rehearsals for this must-see show. There are a few exciting projects on the horizon, but in the meantime, I will be finishing my master’s degree in psychology. Follow me @taofiquefolarin for all the updates!

Finally, please tell Boyz readers where they can see PROUD!

We will be running at the Kings Head Theatre from 22nd February – 12th March. You can buy your tickets here and please follow us on Twitter and Instagram @Proud_ThePlay to find out more about the production.

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