Apollo lands on green planet

Lo­cal ac­tor in or­bit as Green Point Sta­dium pro­duc­tion mixes soc­cer, his­tory, the­atre and tourism

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOOD ENTERTAINMENT - BIANCA COLE­MAN

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 info@green­pointsta­di­umvc.co.za

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.

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