Summertime Theatre

Been putting blogging and interviews on hold for quite a while now . . . feels good to get back to writing again. Still intend on interviewing artist Claire Farrugia. It is a challenge I admit to think up an interview plan for someone who clearly has talent and yet sadly hasn't got to that stage of being given that opportunity to exhibit her works with an air of recognition and humble attention. I hope eventually this and next post will be a medium to aid her on, just as I have done in a previous Calling-To-The-Stage Segment.Copyright © Diandra A. 2014

Meantime, I've been doing theatre in double this summer. 

I acted for the first time in MADC's production of The Merchant of Venice as Stephano, and directed for a second time in the annual One Acts Festival with a Maltese play that has never been performed by the playwright till this September.

It felt great participating in one of my favourite Shakespeare plays earlier in July; to befriend and be among an awesome & lively cast and crew, see the story develop gradually up to rehearsals and performances at San Anton Garden 

and watch the poetry and characters come to life . . .Copyright © Diandra A. 2014

Citing in unison 
to strong monologues and scenes 
were my personal delights, 
and parroting some trademark verbal shenanigans 
from fellow actors 
were never lacking between us. 

PRINCE OF ARAGON: [nasal, high pitched] 
Who chooseth meee . . .

Yet the more I attended the rehearsals 
and dove further into the story 
as a piece 
beyond the pages and the academics, 
the more I could see a deeper layer in the play that presented more than merely being an "anti-Semitic" piece. Copyright © Diandra A. 2014

The theme can only be rounded up in one phrase: 
the presentation of sinners

Copyright © Diandra A. 2014
The Merchant of Venice, I believe, is a medium of presenting people from various walks of life. It was not just made up of racism and hate scenes, but each scene of that scenario were stitched up by hinted linings of people with flaws, and yet are redeemable. 

Redeemable also if they allow themselves on that path to be beyond the stereotype placed upon them.
Copyright © Diandra A. 2014

I believe 
it is
a reflection 
of our imperfect human state 
as sinners 
and the rippling effects we create 
at each other.

Copyright © Diandra A. 2014
Shakespeare is more than a poetry-monger. 

He is a mirror barer. 

Whoever passes his path becomes the echoing soul he places in his plays,
occupying the bodies within his fellow actors on the stage. 

His pen brought to life  
the gossiper, 
                             the arrogant, 
                                                           the materialist, 
                                                                                              the proud, 
                                                                                                                     the humble, 

the feminist, the misogynist 
(I'm thinking here more on Benedict and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing)
the amateur (like Dogberry in same play). 

Even most of his villains aren't solely villainous 
without having flaws
and a history behind them, 
because perhaps 
he was able 
to see right through such people. 

People that we see to this day.

He wrote with reason.

Looking again say at the character of Antonio, 
true he was generous and aided friends where he knew they needed it, 
even in a position where he couldn't. 
He has some virtues. Copyright © Diandra A. 2014


when he was redeemed 

and saved in court 
from the increasing anger of Shylock, 
partially caused by his own lack of charity, 
his actions of accepting one half of his goods and demanding Shylock to become a Christian may have proved superficial . . .

"Presently becoming a Christian"
came to Shylock by force
not by choosing 
in response to received mercy and love
out of his own free will . . .

and the receiving of the letter informing Antonio of his ships arriving safely to Venice at the end of the play, proved not so much a quick penning from the Bard to create a happy ending, but rather making Antonio no better than how he behaved before and lacked that acknowledgement and gratitude to pass that same mercy to his enemy. 
Copyright © Diandra A. 2014
Copyright © Diandra A. 2014
That letter proved undeserving next to his previous actions in court towards Shylock.

He was just as business-minded (and somewhat materialistic) as Shylock was: 

He seeks my life; his reason well I know:
I oft deliver'd from his forfeitures
Many that have at times made moan to me:
Therefore he hates me.

It's way beyond liberating forfeitures Antonio. 
Shylock was a victim of his own hate 
that increased at each ounce of enmity he received, 
including from you. 
You didn't regret earlier cursing
and spitting on him 
nor denied to do so again in future.
He was just as weak as you.
A man most vulnerable by prejudice -
who could understand that more than you 
in that court room?
Your generosity was limited by your own prejudice

Charity falls on all just as much as mercy. . .

and we can't ignore the possibility 
that Portia's Mercy Speech 
acted also 
as generally guiding and acknowledging
every single person 
in that courtroom 
of the vulnerability they and we all would face:

That in the course of justice
None of us should see salvation
We do pray for mercy
and that same prayer
doth teach us all to render 
the deeds of mercy.

Portia had her own flaws too. 
Some audiences love her, some don't. 
Copyright © Diandra A. 2014
Yet she stands out in my eyes to be the one redeemed from certain characteristics that made her (and seem like) a-spoilt-little-rich-girl, by receiving the true love she wished to be more worthier for, and yet has humbly gained it. Copyright © Diandra A. 2014

Out of love for Bassanio, she uses her intelligence and understanding of logic (like father like daughter) to be an instrument and voice of guidance to mercy, victory and humility (for Shylock in his case) 
in a courtroom . . .
where the language and behaviour 
of such a surrounding 
is all law, 
blind to the human being standing before them 
calling them one term or other that lacked distribution of dignity & mercy. 
Copyright © Diandra A. 2014
Seeing Portia more fully during production, she is a worthy heroine to look up to.

Next time you pick up The Merchant of Venice
look beyond the anti-Semitism. 
See the characters in your mind as people, 
and those sorts whom they talk about, 
and take note how nearly every character mentions one type or other of people: from two-faced Janus (Act 1 Scene 1, ll 50-56) to Shylock's speech; from tedious suitors to fellows who speak an infinite deal of nothing.
Copyright © Diandra A. 2014


The third time participating in the MADC One Acts Festival (second time as director) proved itself to be more fruitful, working with more confidence, as the overall rehearsal process was absolutely void of the notion of competition behind the Festival. Copyright © Diandra A. 2014

Focused solely on bringing into existence Adam u Eva, a Maltese play written by Guze' Aquilina. A play I found in a collected book of one act plays that, according to Aquilina, was never performed.

I chose it from March this year; the earlier the better to see and create the vision. It was tedious work editing and cutting down the script to the time limit of 30 minutes, aside the fact that the play itself without the editing was frustratingly repetitive and would have completely side-tracked attention from the playwright's poetry. 

I worked on dabbling first time with surrealism, a style the story was calling to be staged & bring to presence. With a full and determined cast at the ready also, unlike the first time. A whole month meant to rehearse two years ago was a prolonged audition session. Nightmare.Copyright © Diandra A. 2014

We worked as a team, one encouraging the other, with a few laughs here and there. The best compliment I got from my fellow actors was how much they enjoyed themselves in both nights, and willingly agreed at the possibility of staging it again, whatever the resulting feedback would be. No care towards walking out of the Clubhouse without an award whatsoever.

To sum it up . . . the general feedback we got? Copyright © Diandra A. 2014

Oh my gosh!!!

Didn't even imagine it to be so positive!! 
Absolutely exhilarating. Will stage it again in future - defo!!!
Copyright © Diandra A. 2014
And to top it off, we walked away with 3 awards and 2 nominations!! 

The awards - again - were never important, but to be focused on creating theatre and learning along the way was what made the surprise more rewarding. 

For at the end of the day, when we actors and directors step in a theatre for rehearsals and production nights, it's not people's approval that gives the satisfaction, nor the anticipation of a good review by the critics (whose perspectives are always different from the directors, unless within reason), but the journey of creating with people, to finally reach to the destination of presenting art. Always serving God from the start to curtain call, and acknowledging Him as the Divine Playwright and Director of the plays being done together.

Copyright © Diandra A. 2014