Mile-a-minute acting in a Montanaro sandwich | Joe Azzopardi

Fresh back on the rock from a stint in the UK, young actor Joe Azzopardi speaks to us about squeezing in between John and Alan Montanaro for Completely Hollywood (Abridged) – yet another rat-a-tat comedy from the Reduced Shakespeare Company, squeezing in 186 classic Hollywood films into a 90-minute show

Joe Azzopardi (centre) flanked by Alan and John Montanaro (left to right)
Joe Azzopardi (centre) flanked by Alan and John Montanaro (left to right)

What's it like to be acting in a Maltese play again?
It’s been four years since I’ve been on the Maltese stage apart from doing True Love Lies at St James last October which was quite a heavy piece. But to be doing a comedy in Malta again excites me to the extreme. I’m actually very busy working on a feature film at the moment and had to turn down offers from two other productions.

But when James Calvert approached me and said “you and the two Montanaros, 186 films, in 90 minutes” I was like, “Yes!” I jumped at the chance to work with James and John for the first time since doing My First Time, my breakthrough on the Maltese stage.

What would you say are some of the most important things you’ve learned, working and studying abroad in this field?

Well I ain’t going to tell you my tricks of the trade, but I think one of the most important things I have learnt about being an actor is to put in as much work as you can in the build up to a performance or acting on screen. Then as soon as you get to that performance, let everything go and have no fear of going to the extremes.

An important lesson I learnt at drama school is to go back to the mindset you had when you were a child, when you were absolutely fearless and did things like running with your eyes closed or climbing up a tree with no way of getting back down. Have that instinct to do whatever you want without thinking about the consequences.

How do you feel about taking on this play in particular? Are you anxious about its fast-paced and dynamic structure?

If someone had explained to me before what it would be like to work in a Montonaro sandwich, I would have come in with a much higher level of banter than I originally did. I’m sure we are going to have to put in a high level of effort in trying to contain laughter doing this show. Rehearsals have been hilarious and even though we have done the play over and over again there are still moments where I just can’t stop laughing. Alan trying to “snap a Z” still kills me. I just can’t wait to get it in front of an audience now.

What do you think of the Maltese theatrical scene? Is there anything you would like to see done differently?

I think the Maltese theatre scene is brilliant for an upcoming actor as you get the opportunity to work on so many different types of plays a year. Compared to working in the West End where you do the same show eight times a week for a minimum of six months, in Malta you have the excitement of starting new projects constantly. However for a professional actor who makes his living solely from acting, the theatre scene alone is not enough to keep you going.

The rise in film work has been amazing for actors and some very big budget film and TV shows are being shot here. But it is still not enough. The only thing I can do is to encourage people to come and watch productions. Support your local artists and give the Maltese theatre scene the backing it deserves.

What’s next for you?

Well my career is pushing me towards film and TV rather than theatre. I’ve just got a part on a big Hollywood feature film which will hopefully be a breakthrough for me. Right after that I have a main part in a local short film called ‘In the Name of Bjorn’ which I am hoping will be a big boost for local filmmakers producing good quality films. I have a few other things in the pipeline which I can’t speak about just yet. It’s a very exiting time at this stage of my career.

Completely Hollywood (Abridged) will be staged at the Sir Temi Zammit Hall, University of Malta on May 1-3, 8-10 at 20:00. Tickets at €10 and €15 can be booked by logging on to 

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