Paul Portelli: ‘The trait I most deplore in others? Knobs who take themselves too seriously’

Performer and director Paul Portelli tells all in our Q&A

Paul Portelli (Photo: MaltaToday/James Bianchi)
Paul Portelli (Photo: MaltaToday/James Bianchi)

Paul Portelli is a performer and director with extensive local and international experience in theatre production, large and small scale outdoor and indoor events, festivals, television and film. He is a qualified teacher and workshop leader and is one of the founding members of the theatre company Theatre Anon. Paul was part of the MADC’s production of Midsummer at San Anton Gardens in July. 

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning

Try to go back to sleep.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Never ever smoke.

What do you never leave the house without?

My tobacco.

Pick three words that describe yourself.

Confused. Melancholic. Unorthodox.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

Staying awake while delivering a lecture or lesson.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Reading the comments section in the local media. You cannot possibly get more absurd than that. No wonder the absurd movement never really caught on here.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

We all, each one of us needs to be liked, needs to be loved and that need makes us fragile and vulnerable.

Property and cars aside what’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

That would have to be my piano.

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

Not to take myself and life too seriously and that becoming world famous in Malta is a doddle.

Who’s your inspiration?

D. Deadline.

What has been your biggest


Keeping a straight face whenever I have had the misfortune of encountering a politician and keeping my cool whenever I drive past the inane messages on billboards unashamedly perpetuating the lies peddled by our most honorable MPs and poor excuses for political parties. Especially but not exclusively, when the subject happens to be the environment. They’re as useful as a splitting headache.

If you weren’t a performer, what would you be doing?

I am a teacher really. I only pretend to be a performer, so I guess I would still be trying to convince people that I am an actor.

Do you believe in God?


If you could have dinner with any person, dead or alive, who would it be?

My dad.

What’s your worst habit?

Being ungrateful.

What are you like when you’re drunk?

Probably too drunk to remember.

Who would you have play you in a film?

Buster Keaton.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Knobs who take themselves too seriously.

What music would you have played at your funeral?

Out of tune and out of sync.

What is your most treasured material possession?

My tiny table and chair in our little courtyard.

What is your earliest memory?

Playing Joseph in a nativity play in pre-school. I wanted to be Mary.

When did you last cry, and why?

Must have been during a performance. The moment I realised I had forgotten my lines.

Who would you most like to meet?

Someone funny. Really funny.

What’s your favourite food?

Roasted almonds. Dark chocolate.

Who’s your favourite person on social media right now?

There has only ever been one and only one. Daphne Caruana Galizia. The rest is noise.

If you could travel in time, where would you go?

The future. I’m curious. I would like to find out whether humankind manages to survive the mess we created.

What book are you reading right now?

Does the back of a cereal box count?   

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

To make myself invisible. Or perhaps to be able to fly.

What’s one thing you want to do before you die?

Write a good tune. One good tune.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

A bit of everything. I get bored very easily and so I am incapable of listening to a single style or genre. Each track must be followed by something completely different.

In the shower or when you’re working out, what do you sing/listen to?

Whatever drowns out the noise of the traffic outside our house.