RED Hill Film Festival collaborates with Daniel Newton for his one-man show, Shadow Boxing taking play in May.
The play, directed by award-winning director Mdu Kweyama, is about a 21-year-old heavyweight fighter burdened by the shadow of his father’s past and bigotry and his own internalised perceptions of masculinity.
Flynn throws himself at the punching bag with the abandonment of a man with nothing left to lose as he fights desperately to save himself from confronting his shadows.
Flynn’s character is played by 25-year-old Daniel Newton, who was recently awarded the coveted Fleur Du Cap Theatre Award for Best Performance in a Revue.
“I’m very grateful for it. Being recognised at such a young age means a lot to me, and I take this award as a pat on the back that I'm going in the right direction. This is one of the biggest theatre awards in South Africa. I'm filled with an immense feeling of gratitude,” Newton said.
The original play was written in the 1980s. However, Newton said nearly four decades later, Fynn’s story is still relevant because of some of his character's challenges. Many young people, especially men, can still relate to those struggles. He dubbed the storyline timeless, and a deep exploration of masculinity and coming of age will always transcend time.
“You could watch this play and not even know it was written in the 1980s. There is one line in the play where Flynn says it is 1986, and that is actually toward the end of the play.
“But I think up until that moment, one would not even realise because what Flynn goes through in the play is so universally relatable across any time, whether it be 100 years ago, 100 years from now its pain and tragedy, human connection, father-son relationships, masculinity and crisis and exploration of sexuality. These are timeless things,” Newton added.
The one-man play will have Daniel on stage with nothing, but a metal bucket, a punching bag, a worn pair of boxing gloves and a suit jacket, as he tells the emotional story of his character Fynn, who in the play was weaving his gut-wrenching narrative through his cruel childhood, his rise to boxing stardom, and his tragic fall from grace.
Newton will skillfully project Fynn’s emotional and physical scars as he narrates the story. He said to be able to get into character. He had to understand what was going on in his character’s life by placing himself in his shoes.
“I am acting methodology whereby I make the word of the script the most important thing so I in every possible way I can I pay respect and homage to the script and hopefully that informs the character. When I read the script, I do so empathetically and see what Flynn is going through physically and emotionally.
“I try to remember or imagine when I have felt like that, and I hold on to that feeling and know what it is. I do my best to lend that feeling to the words in the script,” he said.
Newton took a few leaves from Fynn’s book through the lessons he said he learnt while playing the character.
He further said: “Flynn is very determined, very ambitious. He's a hard worker. Toward the end of the play, he becomes unapologetically himself. I think those are all things that I would try to learn from him or, at the very least, implement those characteristics or lessons in my own life.”
Redhill Executive Head of School and producer Joseph Gerassi said when he saw Newton portray Flynn’s character for the first time in his Cape Town, he saw how Newton embodied the character.
Immediately after, he and Newton spoke about the prospect of having Newton perform in Johannesburg. “I thought Joburg audiences needed to see the show,” he said.
Gerassi said that Redhill covered all costs for Newton to come to Johannesburg and showcase his play.
“What often happens in South Africa because of finances is that a company will be able to only perform in a particular province. It becomes too expensive for them to cover all travel costs and show production costs.
“Daniel does not have to worry about theatre costs with his upcoming play in Joburg because we have those bases covered. It was not so expensive to support him because it is a one-man, and it costs less to produce,” Gerassi said.
The show is important to Gerassi because it discusses issues faced by young people from different communities. It would shed light on how these youngsters can navigate these challenges.
The three-day limited showcase will take place at Redhill Film Studio in Morningside, Johannesburg, from May 10-19 between 18:30 and 19:30. Tickets to the play are available on Quicket and cost about R150.
Note: Still waiting for the PR lady to send through pictures.