”Written byNick Trethowan
The gripping and powerful portrayal by Newton brings to life the agony of heavy weight fighter, Flynn, as he questions the legacy of his father, boxing, dreams of his career and ultimately who he is in context to it all.
From the – 28th of May, Shadow Boxing runs at the Baxter Theatre. Directed by Mdu Kwyama (The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?) and the professional debut of actor Daniel Newton. He may be familiar to you as the frontman of one of our favourite Cape Town bands, SoulPunk. I went to a performance and caught up with him after the show.
Upon arriving at the Baxter Theatre to watch the play, I quickly found myself at a black tie event for the opening of the new Pam Golding stage, in honour of Cape Town’s historic theatres latest generous benefactor. In a sea of fabulously dressed attendees, I could see photographers snapping pictures of the who’s who and important people.
The first thing to greet me on the red carpet however was a waiter with a tray of champagne. After inquiring whether or not it was free (I’m a writer, this is a prerequisite on my salary) I graciously took two for me and my date. Unfortunately I had come alone, but they didn’t need to know that. By the end of my second glass of champagne, I had begun to think I was in the wrong place as I found out about the gala in honour of the new theatre. By the third glass I thought this might, maybe, definitely be the wrong place. But by the fourth, I knew within my heart of hearts, I had come to the wrong thing and the performance was elsewhere. So collecting my ticket I scurried downstairs to the intimate setting of the Masambe Theatre and there, Shadow Boxing which was far more to my liking then the hubhub upstairs.
Newton’s performance is a fantastic debut. As heavy hitting as a powerful hook to the chin, Daniel leaves it all on the stage.
Catching up with Daniel after, I asked some questions about the underlying meanings of the play, preparing for the role and why it hits so hard nearly forty years after it is set.
Q: The play has themes of self-discovery, exploration and a sense of struggle with ones own happiness in contrast to a world that more often than not, doesn’t accept individual wants or rights. Do you think this is still prevalent today?
A: “I think it’s still prevelant today and will always be. That’s why art exists I guess. Not to to sound crass or cheesy… I do think though that there are some people that accept our “wants and rights” and then are some that don’t. We just need to tell the people that don’t to fuck off.”
Q: This is your professional debut and has been widely acclaimed, what has been the process of preparing for the role of ‘Flynn’ and getting yourself ready for such a deep role and performance?
A: “Well in terms of physicality, I’ve been training like a boxer on and off for a couple of years now. Psychologically my process isn’t very complicated. The play is so well written, I just stay as close as I can to the script and let that inform the psychology of the character.”
Q: Why do you think this play has such an impact now even though it was set forty years ago?
A: “I think it’s because everyone loves an underdog. Which is what the character is. In more ways than one. Doesn’t matter when the play was written, as long as people can identify with a character, the play will always remain relevant.”
“Doesn’t matter when the play was written, as long as people can identify with a character, the play will always remain relevant.”
Q: What do you think is the best reason for people to see this play?
A: To get their arses back in the theatre after a long Covid hiatus. Theatre is alive people! Come watch because Netflix is starting to get kak. There is far more love and togetherness in the theatre. Especially with this play. It’s a one man show and so I treat the audience as the other actor. It’s inclusive.