Apollo lands on green planet
Local actor in orbit as Green Point Stadium production mixes soccer, history, theatre and tourism
DURING the course of his oneman show The Greensman, Apollo Ntshoko takes on the roles of a lion, the devil, British and Dutch settlers, and Khoisan and Kaapse Klopse characters – all instantly recognisable and perfectly portrayed with just his body language and voice.
“I guess I watch too much TV,” laughs Ntshoko modestly.
Having trained with Jazzart, Ntshoko’s career has focused on dance, including teaching and choreography, and this background is evident in his lithe, muscular body.
It stands him in good stead for the physically demanding show.
Remarkably, Ntshoko says he does no formal workouts in the gym, just a little exercise at home and warm-up routines before each show. “I’m a natural dancer, and it’s like riding a bicycle.”
The Greensman is the resident multimedia show – simple graphics screened on to the wall serve to illustrate Ntshoko’s performance – that can be seen three times a day at the Green Point Stadium Visitor Centre and forms part of the stadium tour.
Ntshoko has been doing the show since the centre opened in December 2007 and is relieved that he now has an understudy with whom to share the formidable role. Although he has a strong background in dance and theatre – he has been in several Nicholas Ellenbogen productions – this is Ntshoko’s first one-man show.
“I’d never done anything like this before; I was used to hiding in a crowd on stage,” he says. “But director Rob van Vuuren said he believed in me, even if I didn’t believe in myself.”
That belief has paid off in more ways than one because Ntshoko is working on his own script for a oneman show. “It’s under my skin now,” he smiles.
Although we are lear ning to associate Green Point Stadium more with soccer than anything else, The Greensman concerns itself with the history of Green Point Common, one of the oldest in the country but with a clever connection to the beautiful game.
Ntshoko enters stage right as Zweli, a new groundsman at the stadium, who proceeds to share the myths and legends of the common and events that took place there.
With a script that is in turns humorous and informative, making it accessible for all ages, he talks about shipwrecks, how Lion’s Head got its name, horse racing, slave graveyards and the colourful fields of flowers that once existed at the foot of the mountain.
When the British soldiers fighting in the Anglo-Boer War arrived, they brought soccer to the Com- mon. The tradition has waxed and waned, and the stadium grounds have played host to everything from athletics to live music concerts – but, of course, soccer will finally return in spectacular fashion with the 2010 World Cup.
Taking on so many diverse roles is enormously challenging for any actor, and well before the end of the performance Ntshoko is glistening with perspiration.
“I draw my energy from the audience and their energy and reactions to the unexpected, and the dramatic and many funny moments in this script,” he says.
Born in Joburg but having moved to Cape Town as a toddler, Ntshoko sees himself as a fullblooded Capetonian – and is a huge soccer fan.
“My family all love soccer. Kaizer Chiefs wanted my uncle to play for them once, and I played for Amazulu for three years,” he says.
Ntshoko, 40, who is married with a 10-year-old daughter, considers himself fortunate to be doing something he loves, and intends to continue doing it for as long as he can.
For more infor mation on The Greensman and the stadium tour, call 021 430 1410 or e-mail email@example.com
FIELD OF DREAMS: The demands of the one-man show, The Greensman, have given Apollo Ntshoko the confidence to start working on his own script.