What first what inspired you to act, any inspiration
from your family?
Inspiration? The original impetus to act was more for reasons of distraction
than anything else. I suppose it all started off as being a great way
to skive certain lessons at school in order to rehearse for particular
productions. At De La Salle the annual ‘Rock Opera’ was
quite a big deal and so the teaching staff were quite co-operative when
it came to absenting oneself from class in order to rehearse. Also,
being an inveterate show-off and a craver of unwavering attention is
also a good nudge towards a life on the boards I suppose. Somewhere
in the murky depths of their subconscious I’m quite sure that
most actors have this humungously large "Notice me! Notice me!"
billboard hanging around. There’s nothing like theatre for hogging
the attention of a captive audience thereby, invariably, getting your
Do you get the chance to see theatre abroad? If so what
do you look for?
Yes, in the UK mostly, which isn’t saying much, if truth be told.
The West-End is a bit of a rip-off. Prices are way too high and productions,
more often than not, verge on the bland, pandering to the masses and
offering up re-heated pap that appeals to the Lowest Common Denominator.
Not everything of course, but I’ve been sorely disappointed on
too many occasions. Off the West End you’re liable to see some
pretty good, gutsy stuff which, however, is either badly marketed or
inaccessible by more conventional means of transport. What do I look
for in theatre overseas? Well, pretty much the same things that I look
for in theatres here, there and everywhere. Stuff that’s challenging
perhaps, or, at least, that’s capable of involving directly you
at different levels.
Are there actors (Maltese or worldwide) you admire?
Yes, but I won’t mention any of the Maltese actors by name cos
otherwise their egos will continue to inflate further not leaving any
space for my generously-proportioned ego!. Heh. Seriously though. If
push comes to shove, I would dare to mention a few people I really enjoy
working with or watching - at the risk of getting into deep doo-doo
with the people I omit - people such as: Manuel Cauchi, Tony Ellul,
Alan Montanaro, Edward Mercieca, Jes Camilleri, Monica Attard, Isabel
Warrington, Stephanie Farrugia, Louiselle Vassallo and Clare Agius,
to mention a few. Younger actors who’ve really blown me away of
late (in a good sense!) are Chris Dingli and Alan Paris. Directors I
love working with include Masquerade’s Tony Bezzina, Marcelle
Teuma, whom I’d never worked with before but who really impressed
me when we were working on Marat Sade recently, and Jon Rosser who,
in my humble opinion, is the mutt’s nuts, directorially-speaking
of course. Foreign actors? Jonathan Pryce for his theatre work, Gary
Oldman, Billy Bob Thornton, Bill Murray and Nicole Kidman whom I admire
both on celluloid and on stage.
What would you like to see done to achieve a higher
quality theatre and attract more people to the shows in Malta?
A situation whereby one can actually earn one’s daily bread in
the theatre – a professional theatre. Quality improves, better
overall productions will be the norm, and I’m convinced that more
people will be willing to take the necessary risks to create exciting,
provocative, stimulating and relevant theatre. Sure, most theatrical
productions are capable of ‘taking you out of yourself,’
as it were, and involve you in what is going on beyond the footlights.
But it stops there. There’s too little drama that goes the extra
mile. Theatre has a social role to play too. Where’s the theatre
that challenges deep-rooted notions, beliefs and pre-conceived ideas.
Where’s the theatre that makes you stop, listen and ask questions?
God forbid all theatre were to be like that… but some small doses
of deliberate dramatic discomfort would definitely be preferable to
nothing at all.
Of all the roles you have played so far which is your
most memorable and why?
I don’t really have an all-time favourite. You can’t really
classify roles as you would, for example, music. "What’s
your top ten favourite LIVE guitar solos of all time," sort of
thing. Argan in Il-Marid Immaginarju is one role I’m particularly
fond of. It was my first really big part, the leading role in the Moliere
classic AND it was in Maltese. The dentist in Little Shop of Horrors
is another. This was a part I’d played in 1990 and then replicated
ten years later, needing a much bigger wig this time round, heheh!.
It’s no great shakes but such a fun part to play especially since
you get to go down in the stalls intimidating the audience. The king
in the King and I… It’s a part that just takes you over.
Dangerous in that there’s a very fine line between life and art
sometimes and it’s very tempting to cross over and fade one into
the other. But it’s an amazingly complex and challenging role
that I look upon rather wistfully now. My character in ART I enjoyed
tremendously, a very, very finely-tuned and technically impeccable production,
as well as, more recently, Dinner with friends and Marat Sade –
productions that make you feel uncomfortable, but in an oddly pleasant
sort of way.
Your next play is 'Noises Off,' can you tell me something
about your role?
Art and Life again… I’m playing a jaded, bored and highly-strung
theatre director who’s rehearsing a repertory company for an extensive
tour around the UK with this bedroom farce that revolves around sardines.
His job is made all the more difficult due to the fact that he’s
hating what he’s doing, he’s also rehearsing Richard III
with another company simultaneously, he’s banging a couple of
the cast and crew members, whilst all the while the interpersonal relationships
between the members of the cast are disintegrating spectacularly. Needless
to say, as the tour progresses the entire production, already shaky
to begin with, unravels and starts to fall apart in the most wonderfully
chaotic way. It’s a great role and perfectly suited for those
with a sardonic, cynical disposition.
Do you see plays in Malta as being too text based? Too
director driven? A good balance?
So what if they are? It’s neither good nor bad, it’s just
the way that things are done most of the time. I suppose that most of
the theatre punters prefer that style of theatre. The problem is that
there’s hardly any alternatives, to speak of. Due to the volatile
and sometimes fickle nature of theatergoing, people prefer to play safe
and produce something that’ll go down well and appeal to the tastes
of the largest number of regular theatergoers. A more fluid, experimental
or spontaneous style of theatre is rarely, if ever, resorted to because
there are too many question marks as to how such a production will be
received. And if you’re investing in a theatrical production that
bombs spectacularly (as has been known to happen) you’re liable
to end up losing a few grand in the process. Yes, Art for Art’s
sake…. and Money for God’s sake. That’s where Arts
Council grants should normally come into it, like the proverbial Cavalry
coming to the rescue at the eleventh hour, and all’s well with
world again. Maybe then more people will be willing to take risks and
present something with a little more oomph! in it. I don’t know
why but whenever there’s mention of SERIOUS funding of the performing
arts in Malta my mind immediately conjures up images of a run-of-the-mill
farce. I wonder why?