The game of regrets and second chances | Clive Piscopo

If you had a chance to revisit your 15-year-old self, what would you tell him or her? A new play by Simon Bartolo explores just this universal desire, and we speak to actor and producer Clive Piscopo about bringing this intimate, poignant story to life 

Clive Piscopo and Jamie Cardona
Clive Piscopo and Jamie Cardona

What excited you about performing in this production?

Simon Bartolo’s writing is incredibly colloquial and deceptively simple, which makes it both very accessible and immensely powerful. I saw this for myself when I acted in his previous smash hit Jiena Nħobb, Inti Tħobb. His characters are complex, layered with wonderful intricacies that make them so challenging and fun to play and so immediate to the audience. And his use of language lifts Maltese to its most entertaining – flitting from comic to pathos and back to funny at breakneck speed.

How would you describe Simon Bartolo’s theatrical writing? What does it contribute to the scene?

As an actor and relatively new producer, I feel quite privileged to be staging and performing in Tikber u Tinsa, in which, I believe, Simon surpasses himself by creating the memorable character of Albert Chetcuti. With his trademark one-liners and sparring dialogue, Simon does not merely manage to tell the story of a boy with a brilliant mind and an equally tortured soul. He does that and so much more.

In the space of an hour, Simon’s script and Roderick Vassallo’s vision take us on a roller-coaster journey and explore our human nature in such exquisite detail that one cannot but endear to this character. This is what encouraged me to risk and produce this story. Some stories deserve and should be told.

What are some of the key themes of the play, and how are they relevant to contemporary Maltese life?

Tikber u Tinsa taps into a number of themes. It revolves around one question that is bound to intrigue many: if you had the possibility of going back in time and say one thing to your fifteen-year-old self, what would you say?

The protagonist in Tikber u Tinsa faces this very possibility which – though nostalgic, funny, and poignant in nature – can create havoc in many unpredictable ways. Another central theme which I was very interested to explore is the clinging power of memories. Why do we remember what we remember? And how come we remember things we want to forget and forget things that ought to be remembered? Without revealing too much, the play also deals with one of today’s taboos.

What was it like to perform within such an intimate cast? What are some of the main challenges with this kind of setup?

Performing within such an intimate cast is actually one of the perks of doing Tikber u Tinsa. Having just played in Sibna ż-Żejt and Faith, Hope u Charity earlier on in the year – two theatre productions with very large casts – I am really enjoying every minute with fellow actors Jamie Cardona and Alison Abela.

The reality of a very small cast is allowing us to be “on” all the time, and cherishing every minute we have together discussing and rehearsing with [director] Roderick Vassallo, our director. We don’t have to wait for other actors to finish their scenes as in Tikber u Tinsa there is just us three. This also means that there is way more lines to study!

How would you describe the Maltese-language theatre scene at the moment? What would you change about it?

In all fairness, I think that the Maltese-language theatre scene is experiencing a renewal of sorts. Thanks to a number of theatre companies, who occasionally still have to defy an unstated but lingering skepticism that theatre in Maltese can be one of quality, it is becoming more frequent and more daring.

True, not all theatre in Maltese attains the desired quality. But then again, nor do other forms of theatre and theatre in other languages. This should not in any way be interpreted as being ready to accept work of inferior quality. But I’d rather live in a creative hub that experiments and fails then sit on the fence complaining, criticising and theorising.

Art should mean rolling up one’s sleeves and dirtying one’s hands. It is what I constantly say to myself: I am privileged as it is to be staging a play I myself wanted so much to see as an audience member. I’d better work my butt off to avoid, first and foremost, disappointing myself.

What’s next for you?

After Tikber u Tinsa, I am taking a back seat from producing and will enjoy the rest of the year acting in other plays. But things look like I am going to be producing another riveting project in 2017. And I’m not saying anything more than that for now.

Tikber u Tinsa will be performed at St James Cavalier, Valletta on October 22-25 at 20:00. Directed by Roderick Vassallo, the cast includes Clive Piscopo, Jamie Cardona and Alison Abela. Bookings:

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