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The lure of love and its disastrous aftermath | Kenyetta Lethridge

We speak to American playwright Kenyetta Lethridge about the upcoming Maltese production of her human trafficking drama, Innocent Flesh, adapted for the local stage by TAC Theatre under the direction of Marc Cabourdin – in what will be the hard-hitting play’s first venture out of the US.

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic
7 November 2013, 12:00am
From left: Sarah Jane Mallia, Nadia Vella and Tina Rizzo during rehearsals for the TAC Theatre’s production of Innocent Flesh.
From left: Sarah Jane Mallia, Nadia Vella and Tina Rizzo during rehearsals for the TAC Theatre’s production of Innocent Flesh.


How does it feel to take this play to Malta? What do you imagine a foreign culture like Malta would bring to the play?

It is my understanding that Malta is currently being used as a hub for trafficking children throughout Europe. It is currently considered both a transit and destination country. I think that Innocent Flesh will bring a greater awareness of what's going on in Malta's backyard.

As well as having written the play, you've also directed it back in the US. How does it feel to now hand over this project to another director?

Yes, I directed the off-Broadway production as well as the Los Angeles run. It's hard giving up the piece to another director, but I know that if I want my vision for Innocent Flesh realised then I have to allow other directors to put their creative touch on it. At this point having as many people hear my words and understand its message is more important to me than who directs. 

Kenyetta Lethridge

Kenyetta Lethridge

Human trafficking is both universal - as an emotional subject - and culturally specific (in that the stories concerning individual victims, from different and specific cultures, are bound to differ in significant ways). While writing the script, what kind of work did you have to do to ensure that the story retains its maximum emotional impact?

While writing Innocent Flesh I made sure that the stories remained universal by focusing on the one thing we want it life. Love. I wanted the audience to understand that these young girls are seduced into this life not because of money, poverty, or drugs. But because many times they seek what they are not being given at home, love. Is it a false sense of love, yes. However, it's enough.

How do you feel about the play being performed in two different languages (English and Maltese)? Was this something you imagined happening when you first sat down to write the play?

When I first sat down to write the play my vision was to have it run in the major cities in the US and to have international exposure. Malta is it's first international run, and I'm elated.

Innocent Flesh will be playing at The Vault Theatre, Valletta Waterfront on November 9, 10 and 15-17. Cast includes Nadia Vella, Tina Rizzo, Simone Alamango and Sarah Jane Mallia. Tickets for premiere are at €10, €15 for remaining performances. Bookings: ticketline.com.mt; [email protected] or at the Embassy Cinemas Box Office, Valletta. All shows start at 20:00. The play is rated 18.
teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic is MaltaToday's culture editor and film critic. He joined t...
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john spiteri
Beautiful and gorgeous lady!
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