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Mounting a farce for all

As they prepare to put up Miles Tredinnick’s farcical comedy ‘Laugh? I Nearly went to Miami!’ on the Teatru Salesjan, Teodor Reljic speaks to its producer Yandrick Agius and director Lucienne Camilleri – both from DLA Productions – about how this sophomore effort differs from its musical theatre Maltese folk monster debut production

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic
16 October 2017, 7:30am
The cast of Laugh? I Nearly Went to Miami, staged at the Teatru Salesjan next weekend
The cast of Laugh? I Nearly Went to Miami, staged at the Teatru Salesjan next weekend
What led you to choose this particular script as your next production? How would you say it builds on what you started with Il-Belliegha?

Yandrick Agius: This play came about as a matter of chance, really and truly. The script was selected by our director, Lucienne Camilleri, and she shared it with the rest of our committee, with a desire to work with the particular script and to present its humour to a Maltese audience. Miles Tredinnick’s play fit the bill for all of us due to its typically British humour, reminding us all to not take ourselves too seriously.

This production is a new step for DLS Productions, since it ventures towards comedy, rather than the usual large-scale performances of musical theatre and in a sense, it is a step away from Il-Belliegħa.

In reality, as DLS Productions, what we believe in the most is facilitating young players and backing them up with a strong basis of training whilst giving them opportunities for performance. In spite of the differences in content, the final product is still in line with the DLS Productions mission of achieving a high-quality production with people who are ready to work and learn.

How would you describe the story of ‘Laugh? I Nearly Went To Miami!’ and what did you find appealing about it?

Agius: The story is a fast-moving plot with a comedy of errors style of confusion. The play opens with two younger lovers who are planning to attend the Elvis Presley convention in Miami, however their flight does not take off due to fog.

After heading back home, they realise that they picked up someone else’s suitcase and are now in the possession of $500,000. This surprising turn of events is put through a Russian roulette style of mayhem with a nosy younger brother, a drunk auntie, a gangster and a po-lice inspector.

The script itself picks up a lot of momentum as the plot progresses and I think the most humorous thing about it is the action. The play relies a lot on comedic timing so it is definitely not a walk in the park for the players.

Would you say that Maltese theatre in particular needs a more lighthearted dose of entertainment, of the kind that this play appears to delight in? Which aspects of it are you looking forward to staging the most? On that note, what do you make of the local theatrical scene? What would you change about it?

Lucienne Camilleri: I would hardly attempt to define Maltese theatre. Theatre has no nationality, no country and hence no boundaries. As an island I have always felt that our artists strive constantly to project their creations in as diverse a manner as possible.

Does our audience need a light-hearted comedy? Our audience needs that and more. We should stop trying to woo audiences and instead of performing for them, collaborate with them. They should be the ones with us on stage if not physically certainly mentally. As in all relationships communication is the key element here. Do relationships necessitate light-heartedness? Certainly, as they in turn require all the other aspects of relationships.

We know that once we are on that stage, we are open to criticism and the audience be-comes our judge. We feel we are constantly at their mercy and we tend to regard them with suspicion and occasional distrust. Too often we are conditioned by our audiences. If they don’t laugh, it isn’t funny, if they don’t clap, they didn’t like it and if they don’t grip their seats, it wasn’t scary enough. We need to understand that there should be no difference be-tween the ‘artist’ and the members of the audience. Why? Because many a time the ‘artist’ is a member of the audience and vice versa.

No amount of statistics and research will ever solve the recurring question of what is expected when we sit down to watch a performance for the simple reason that audiences change and we can never predict how.

We as theatre makers go through exhausting lengths to find or compose the appropriate script with successful results. Perhaps it is time to physically sit down with our audiences and find out what they are looking for. Opening doors to all, whether performers or not, initiates this process and for DLS Productions this continues to be our main goal.

What’s next for you?

Looking out for novelty and freshness built on past and present experiences, creating an inclusive space that is open to all and providing theatre not merely for the discerning few but for all.

‘Laugh? I Nearly Went to Miami!’ will be staged at Teatru Salesjan, Sliema on October 20 and 21 at 20:00. Directed by Lucienne Camilleri, its cast includes Nicole Piscopo, James Camilleri, Neil Grech, Thomas Grixti and Kyle Mangani. Bookings: www. ticketline.com.mt or 7984 8788

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic is MaltaToday's culture editor and film critic. He joined t...
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