Tyrone Grima: ‘I believe that there is a living source that generates love’

Theatre practitioner Tyrone Grima tells all in our Q&A

Tyrone Grima (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)
Tyrone Grima (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)

Tyrone Grima is a theatre practitioner, as well as a lecturer and researcher in the Performing Arts at MCAST. He is also a playwright and author of books in Maltese. Grima’s latest mystery novel ‘Frammenti’ is available at Merlin Publishers.

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

Visit to the bathroom, check my emails, weigh myself (am on a perennial diet) – then it depends: if I have lost weight, I am happy and chirpy. If not, I get grumpy for a few seconds. Then chirpy again. My husband says he is not too sure which of the two is the more irritating!

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

To be authentic.

What do you never leave the house without?

My mobile – I must admit I am very dependent on it, too much I would say. The few days I have left it behind me was a near tragedy!

Pick three words that describe yourself

Deep. Spiritual. Creative.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

I still need a few years to be able to answer this. So far, I can say what the work I am most proud of is and that would probably be when I directed ‘Agnes of God’, although there are also many other productions I cherish.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

I am not even sure whether I have. I mean food of course – probably pasta.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

To be grounded. I keep on reminding myself (and sometimes failing miserably at it).

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

I am not very attached to money and do not own very expensive things. Possibly some of the books I have would be the most expensive things I bought. My husband and I own over 700 books! (OK, he has more than I do!)

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

That it is ok to be vulnerable.

Who’s your inspiration?

Francis of Assisi.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Many of those. I think each play I directed had a challenging element in it, ranging from including circus skills in ‘Antigone’ to incorporating sign language in ‘Children of a Lesser God’.

If you weren’t a theatre practitioner and lecturer what would you be doing?     

I really had to think hard about this. Either a psychotherapist or a journalist.

Do you believe in God? 

Yes. I am Catholic (although very liberally Catholic) and I believe that there is a living source that generates love and that somehow in a mysterious way we can relate to.

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

Francis of Assisi or Simone Weil – both together would be even better. The issue is that both of them are known for the fact that they did not eat too much. And that is a problem because I eat a lot. Sorted. I can do the eating. They can do the talking!

What’s your worst habit?

Looking at my watch almost in a compulsive way to check the time.

What are you like when you’re drunk?

I have a very high level of tolerance. So, no matter how much I drink I am not that much different. Perhaps I am too drunk when I am sober!

Who would you have play you in a film?

If he were still alive, Anthony Perkins. From actors who are still alive, Ralph Fiennes or John Cusack.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Any form of unacceptance towards diversity.

What music would you have played at your funeral?

This is easy because when I was studying Dramatherapy at Roehampton we actually had to design our own funeral ceremony. ‘La Forza della Vita’ (Paolo Vallesi) and the main themes from ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ and ‘E.T.’

What is your most treasured material possession?

All my books, particularly the writings by Simone Weil. Second to that, my DVDs, particularly my collection of films by Truffaut.

What is your earliest memory?

Vague memories of playing in the garden and at kindergarten.

When did you last cry, and why?

A few months when I was meditating as well as when I watched the restaging of ‘Appuntamenti’. It touched me massively.

Who would you most like to meet?

Apart from the figures listed above, I think anyone who identifies him/herself as a mystic and who has had mystical experiences.

What’s your favourite food?

Pasta. But I also love Indian food, sushi, pizza, Mexican food, fish… I simply love food (and in gigantic quantity)

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

Nobody in particular. Although I use the social media a lot, I really think it is actually very harmful.

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

Middle Ages. In the times of St Francis.

What book are you reading right now?

Is-Sriep Regghu Saru Velenuzi. Great book

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

I would love to fly.

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

Just make sure that I do not have any regrets and that I can look back and that somehow everything makes sense.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

Carmen Consoli.

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

Ok, this is embarrassing. I have a knack of randomly selecting songs taken from different contexts ranging from Church hymns to pop songs to music from soundtracks, and changing the lyrics or inventing them totally, frequently with lyrics that I would not want anyone to hear (except for my husband because he generally happens to be in the kitchen rolling his eyes at the obscenities).