Witty banter and twisty turns | Tina Rizzo

Actress Tina Rizzo speaks to Teodor Reljic about her upcoming role in The Birthday Suit, a dark comedy by David K. Barnes set to be staged at Blue Box, M Space in Msida from next weekend

Tina Rizzo
Tina Rizzo

What attracted you to this production in general and your character in particular? How do you feel about her now versus when you first got the role and started mulling over her emotional journey and its implications?

The witty banter, the fast paced dialogue and the hilarious twist of the piece. Diane’s character is very controlling over her boyfriend Nick. She is desperate to make a good impression at Richard’s party, so much so that she over thinks every detail. She wants everything to go perfectly, but obviously it doesn’t. As a result Diane has a nervous breakdown while slowly drowning her sorrows in wine. 

I think it’s the funny ups and downs of this character which makes it extremely fun to play. My interpretation of the character has obviously changed since the read through. It’s an ongoing process because even at this late stage in rehearsals, I am still experimenting and trying new things to keep the character active and alive. Without me wanting to, during every rehearsal, I learn something new about the character I am playing. 

I’m very happy to be working with Anthony Bezzina. As a director he allows us, as actors, to play around and try new things. I feel it is super important to keep the rehearsal process alive and keep discovering new things, because once the process becomes monotonous the creativity is gone. This is deadly to any production, as I feel the playfulness in the rehearsal space is such an important aspect in developing the character on an individual level, but also connecting and creating a dynamic with the other characters in the play. 

What would you say makes this play different to other productions you have participated in? And are there any similarities between your character and others you may have played? If so, what are they, and is there something in particular you enjoy exploring about these roles?

Well firstly, this play is a four-hander, and even though I enjoy working with a big cast, it’s really been fun working with Larissa [Bonaci], Joe [Azzopardi] and Malcolm [Galea]. Secondly, it has been slightly challenging as we all need to keep up the stamina and remain focused because of the fast paced dialogue and the fact that we are practically on stage all the time. I don’t think I’ve ever played a character like this, so it has been fun exploring and interpreting the dynamics of Diane’s character.

Birthday Suit promises to be a razor-sharp comedy – what kind of experience do you hope the audience will get out of it?

I hope that they will enjoy themselves, it is a comedy for an energetic fun night out. Four very different characters stuck together for one night, their differences and certain plot twists are hilarious, which will keep the audience laughing as well as their attention.

What do you make of the local theatrical scene? What would you change about it?

I think the local theatrical scene is growing in a positive direction. Every year it is improving as there are more productions, funds, and opportunities at schools and theatre companies. I have certainly seen an increase in the importance of the performing arts, from when I was studying drama as a kid. 

A lot has improved in only a few years, so I can only imagine what positive aspects the future theatre scene holds.

However, having said that, I do wish there was a higher level of professionalism in the theatrical scene from a legal perspective. This would ensure that the actors’ pay and role in the production is backed up with a legal professional contract. I am aware that actors are presented with contracts, but more often than not, these contracts are vague. I would like to see an improvement in the content of the document. 

This contract would safeguard the actor to avoid any sort of abuse regarding pay and their role in the production, so nothing is taken for granted or advantage of.

What’s next for you?

I’m taking part in this year’s Masquerade Pantomime; Alice in Wonderland, as principal boy Jack of Hearts. I’ve been juggling both Panto and Birthday Suit rehearsals, which at times might be slightly stressful when it comes down to learning the lines, however it’s been a blast so far. I’m also taking part in HUSH, an original musical by Denise Mulholland and Luke Saydon which will be staged in March 2018 at the Manoel Theatre. Apart from these productions that are lined up, I’m also in the process of applying for my MA in Classical and Contemporary Text in the UK. 

So, while juggling rehearsals and performances, I’ll also be flying up and down throughout the year for auditions and interviews. It’s all very crazy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m looking forward to a very exciting packed year ahead!


The Birthday Suit – a Masquerade production – will be staged at Blue Box, M Space, Msida on November 17-19; 24-26 at 20:00.  The rest of the cast includes Malcolm Galea, Larissa Bonaci and Joe Azzopardi, and the play is directed by Anthony Bezzina. Bookings:  HYPERLINK “http://www.bluebox.com.mt/”www.bluebox.com.mt