A woman’s world… or is it? | Clare Azzopardi, Marie Louise Vella and Coryse Borg

We catch up with three female forces behind the all-woman team of In-Nisa Maltin Jafu Kif – Fondazzjoni Avventura’s second theatrical outing, taking place at the Manoel over next weekend. Playwright Clare Azzopardi and actresses Coryse Borg and Marie Lousie Vella reveal the inner core of this ensemble piece.

Marie Louise Vella (bottom, in red) and Coryse Borg (bottom, second from left).
Marie Louise Vella (bottom, in red) and Coryse Borg (bottom, second from left).

Finding 'the Maltese woman'

Clare Azzopardi: Women are so complex that it's impossible for a play to represent all women, in all their variety and complexity, in an hour and 45 minutes. But this play gave me the chance to place, within the restricted space of the Manoel Theatre, the strong character of Felicienne, a lesbian who has a child, that of Nicolette, who realised she couldn't and didn't want to be a mother the minute she got pregnant, of Marija, a homemaker who has as much faith in her pendulum as she does in Our Lady... shall I go on?

Coryse Borg: I guess that my character, Nicolette, represents the woman who tries to have it all - the perfect husband, the cute-as-a-button kid, the high-flying career - and then finds that having it all does not equate to being happy or content. I don't think a two-hour play can show all types of Maltese women with all their differences - that's a very tall order. However, I do think that every woman in the audience will be able to did entity with at least some facets of the women that they are seeing onstage.

Marie Louise Vella: I would say that Ruth [a factory worker] represents some women in Maltese society, and while some would not be able to relate, many would actually relate to snippets of her character. She represents the hot blooded, nervous Maltese woman. I think all the women who come watch the play will relate to one or more of the characters, and the men would recognise their friends, girlfriends, wives, mothers and sisters in our characters!

Female 'categories'

CB: I suppose that Nicolette could be described as being quite 'middle class'. She is a notary who is married to a well-off man. A mum who admits that she could easily stop working if she wanted to. But while many women in her position would have indeed stopped working; maybe even hired a nanny, she resolutely refuses to stop working as it gives her a sense of worth. Although she calls her job 'boring', Nicolette herself is far from boring. She is a fun-loving woman who acts younger than her age and who is what I would consider 'naughty but nice'!

CA: I wanted to write about women because, lately, they've been my only source of inspiration. And in this play I managed to give voice to six women who are very different from each other but who have one thing in common... they underwent labour together and are all mothers.

Throughout the writing of this play, what guided me was the variety of the women's idiosyncrasies, together with their wounds, their attacks of hysteria and their beauty. Somehow, a plot suggested itself at some point. But it was in fact the characters that were written first. The plot came after a year's worth of drafting and redrafting.

MV: Ruth's nervousness and anxiety stems from her life at home; she feels claustrophobic and almost stalked by her husband. Her anxiety lends itself to some of the drama that ensues. She is sometimes the voice of reason, which makes the other women nervous too. These layers all together build a calamity that informs the texture of the play as it goes along.

 In-Nisa Maltin Jafu Kif will be playing at the Manoel Theatre, Valletta on March 22, 23 and 24 at 20:00. Directed by Marcelle Theuma. The rest of the cast includes: Marta Vella, Magda Van Kullenburg, Maria Cutajar, Sharon Bezzina, Chris Degiorgio and Claudio Carta.