The Malta Independent 18 April 2019, Thursday

Taking the political stage

Tuesday, 26 February 2019, 14:19 Last update: about 3 months ago

A cutting-edge new theatre piece inspired by politically-motivated violence is soon set to court controversy on Malta’s stage. Laura Bonnici speaks with ‘Apotheosis’ director MARC CABOURDIN to find out why he feels the time is right for this ground-breaking theatrical event.

Actor and director Marc Cabourdin is no stranger to channelling the many quirks and foibles of life in Malta into his stage work. As one of the Comedy Knights, he has delighted audiences with hilarious sketches satirising the local lifestyle for many a Christmas. Now, however, he is taking this talent to an entirely different extreme - by directing a timely new theatre piece, Apotheosis.

Exploring controversial contemporary Maltese political and social themes, this new one-woman show charts the story of a fictional Maltese female Prime Minister and the tragedy of her life. As a political outcast, the play's main character Dolores has been labelled a national traitor and is fearful for her life, as she writes her tell-all memoirs that promise to shake the political establishment to its foundations.

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"The purpose of all my artistic work is present day context, while holding up a mirror to society in its manners and attitudes," says Marc, about moving from performing the satire of the Comedy Knights straight into directing such a dramatic piece. "Although the form is different in each, I have always been attracted to producing work that conveys the truth of life in the world at that time - and the themes examined in Apotheosis are at the very heart of life in Malta today."

Malta-based British-American theatre director John Baraldi penned the first draft for Apotheosis in 2016 when he learned about Karin Grech, the young girl who died 40 years ago as a result of a bomb intended for her father. Following other instances of political violence and a series of car bombs featured on the news, the author was inspired to explore the topic further, researching and interviewing people to gather material for the play. However, it was when journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was assassinated by a car bomb in October 2017 that Baraldi felt the piece had to be brought to the stage.

"When John first wrote the play, some people said it was slightly preposterous that a woman politician might be killed because of her revelations," continues Marc. "Following Daphne Caruana Galizia's assassination, however, it became clear that a theatre piece of this kind is now essential. Theatre is supposed to be contemporary, modern, relatable, alive and relevant, and to achieve this necessitates confronting, challenging and inspecting current realities, even - or perhaps, especially - those that are deemed taboo or controversial."

Starring prominent local actor Angele Galea as Dolores, Apotheosis is being staged through a long developmental process between Angele, Marc and John. "Working with such a high rate script and actor has been a pleasure," Marc observes. "While with John, the process has revolved around in-depth conversations and observations about the piece, the rehearsal process with Angele has been more hands-on. We have sought to understand Dolores and her context, breaking down the character so that the audience will be immersed in her story, her foibles, victories, failures and ultimately, her humanity."

Apart from Angele's richly-detailed performance, Apotheosis is also an immersive, multi-visual production, enhanced by various other mediums including film and music, and structured around celebrated composer Arvo Pärt's Lamentate. "The Lamentate inform and expose the universe and world we've created," explains Marc.

The production team behind Apotheosis has also planned to extend the show's immersive expression into a series of fringe events, including intensive workshops and post-show talks, which tackle the many controversial and topical themes explored in the play, with speakers including leading academics, activists and experts on gender equality. In keeping with the play's debut date of 7 March, fittingly a day before Women's Day, the Twenty-Four Hour Theatre Challenge workshop will offer practical guidance to young aspiring female theatre practitioners, while discussing the lack of female participation in political life and the role of women in Maltese society.

"Through Apotheosis and the show's related events, we are striving to achieve an experience that allows the audience to be sucked into Dolores' world," Marc concludes. "The images, mood and design of the piece, together with the heightened tension that the script invokes and Angele's performance, will bring to life an entertaining, highly captivating, thought-provoking piece of theatre."

 

'Apotheosis' will be performed at Spazju Kreattiv from Thursday 7 to Sunday 10 March and Thursday 14 to Sunday 17 March at 8pm; with a matinee performance on Wednesday 13 March at 2pm. Ticket prices start at €10. For bookings visit www.kreattivita.org/en/event/apotheose/

The outreach and education programme of this project has been funded by the Small Initiatives Support Scheme (SIS), managed by the Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector (MCVS). This project/publication reflects the views only of the author and the MCVS cannot be held responsible for the content or any use which may be made of the information contained therein.


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