The Malta Independent 28 May 2018, Monday

Villain or victim?

Coryse Borg Tuesday, 15 May 2018, 09:45 Last update: about 12 days ago

NADIA VELLA first burst on the local theatre scene when she played the title role in ‘Annie’ at the Manoel Theatre back in 1998. Since then she has portrayed a number of meaty roles in the acting and singing world. She also graduated in acting and musical theatre from Hertfordshire Theatre School in the UK and holds an LTCL in Vocal Teaching. Coryse Borg speaks to her about her next theatrical foray – as the multi-faceted Abigail Williams in Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’

Nadia Vella's theatrical CV reads like an actor/singer's dream. She has played roles from Ruby in The Little Shop of Horrors to Agnes in Agnes of God; from Helene in Sweet Charity to (her favourite role to date) Christine in Malta's premiere of The Phantom of the Opera. She recently played Catherine in Masquerade's The Memory of Water at MSPACE.

"The Crucible is one of my favourite plays," she states, "Arthur Miller is a genius. The goings on occur in 1692 in the Puritan town of Salem. A group of girls are caught dancing in the forest - dancing being a forbidden act at the time. Slowly but surely, accusation after accusation leads to deadly repercussions with certain sub-plots being uncovered that reveal a society ruled by ignorance, superstition and violence." 

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Nadia plays 17-year-old Abigail Williams. She is the niece of Reverend Parris and an orphan. Her parents were murdered... and Abigail witnessed the murder. While a servant in John Proctor's household she becomes his lover. His wife Elizabeth finds out and fires her.

"Abigail is well aware of her sexuality. She is crafty, vindictive and a skilful liar," Nadia explains, "She is the leader of her group of girlfriends and is willing to go to great lengths to protect herself."

The Crucible is directed by Sean Buhagiar, who, Nadia attests, is not afraid to try out different ideas, even if they are sometimes quite 'wacky' (her words!).

"With the use of soundscapes and certain visual effects, the eerie and mysterious atmosphere is created - it's not a show for the faint-hearted, that's for sure," she says, "I am thoroughly enjoying the rehearsals. Sean allows us to experiment with different ideas to find out what works and what doesn't, and this allows for plenty of artistic freedom to develop our characters. The worst part is the bruises and muscle pain! It is quite a physically and mentally demanding show."

Nadia admits that the main challenge of playing her character is trying to delve into the mind of a 17-year-old  living during Puritan times, still having the challenges of womanhood in front of her, but not being able to express such feelings as openly as one would today.

"People love to see Abigail as the villain in the whole story," she says, "Whereas I see her as more of a victim of society at the time."

The 25-strong cast of The Crucible is led by Maltese-Australian actor Kenneth Spiteri as John Proctor and Simone Ellul as his wife Elizabeth, and also includes Stephen Oliver, Edward Caruana Galizia, Marylu Coppini, Isabel Warrington, John Marinelli, Michael Mangion, Narcy Calamatta, Thomas Camilleri, Peter Galea, Colin Fitz, Nanette Brimmer, Edward Thorpe, Hannah Cramer, Gabriela Mendez, Kyra Lautier, Daniela Carabott Pawley, Julia Camilleri and Roberta Cefai.

Contemporary artist Austin Camilleri has designed the set for the Manoel stage while costume design was in the hands of Sef Farrugia. Sound designer Yasmin Kuymizakis has composed the music for the production.

The Crucible, produced by Teatru Manoel, runs from Wednesday, 16 to Sunday, 20 May at the Manoel Theatre. Booking is open at www.teatrumanoel.com.mt.

More information about Nadia may be obtained from: www.facebook.com/officialnadia


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