My essentials: Alex Weenik’s cultural picks

No 4 | Alex Weenik, 22, Actor & Theatre-maker, currently working on Kes with Masquerade Theatre Company

Alex Weenik
Alex Weenik

1. Books

Remember what I said about existential rabbit holes? I can thank Yuval Noah Harari’s book Sapiens for that. It picks apart the entire history of the human species and all of our personality traits... including the less attractive ones. It’s written in such an informed yet enjoyable and accessible tone, that I didn’t even mind the existential dread I was feeling! Don’t worry, there is no dread in Kes – okay maybe a bit... but it’s mostly about an imaginative kid, his bird, and all the different characters that surround him.

2. TV/Film

I think I cried for a solid 15 minutes after watching Luzzu last month. For all sorts of reasons: I felt proud, I felt hopeful, I felt inspired... but also scared, defeated, and powerless. The luzzu graveyard scene, to me at least, communicates what it feels like living here, seeing our natural environment and heritage encroached upon so rapidly and with such arrogance. I think that it’s an important film for Malta in more ways than one, so yes I would certainly recommend it!

3. Internet 

Wisecrack! It’s a blog and YouTube channel that presents essays on how pop culture, movies, TV shows, video games, and more intersect with philosophy, politics, psychology, and social studies. I watch it every week while drinking tea, and it may possibly be my favourite time of the week.

4. Music 

Oof, I mean, this one is tough! Do you remember Gotye? Yes, that guy who sang ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’. Well, he has two full albums – Like Drawing Blood and Making Mirrors – and they are absolutely brilliant. Joy, celebration, fear, heartbreak, gratitude, frustration – the whole spectrum of emotions... and none of his other songs became memes!

5. Place

In summer, I love going to Għajn Tuffieħa just after sunset, when the water is warm and perfectly still. I swim out as far as I can. Some days, it’s so clear you can see right to the bottom of the sea floor. I can hear people in the distance but it’s mostly calm and quiet, - certainly one of my favourite places to be. It reminds me of Billy in Kes – of him and his shed where he trains and spends time with Kes (the bird). It’s his pocket of silence; a break from all the expectations that come with being a teenager, and all the pressures from his family, classmates, and teachers.