Philip Leone-Ganado: ‘Tried walking to Santiago de Compostela. Got injured a week in. Reaching it is going to be an obsession until I get there.’

Theatre director, actor and writer Philip Leone-Ganado tells all in our Q&A

Philip Leone-Ganado (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)
Philip Leone-Ganado (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)

Philip Leone-Ganado is a theatre director, actor and writer. He trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) and is one of the founding members of WhatsTheirNames Theatre, for whom he directed the Shakespeare at the Pub and Shakespeare in the Garden series, among others. His newest production, Skieken f’Tiġieġ, is playing at the Valletta Campus Theatre between April 7 and 10.

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

I try to meditate for a few minutes and do some push-ups. Instead, I make coffee and scroll Facebook for an hour.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?


What do you never leave the house without?

Just the usual: phone, wallet, keys, mask.

Pick three words that describe yourself

Well-intentioned catastrophe.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

Quite a few people come to watch plays I make and usually they have a good time. It’s not much but it’s mine.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

I waste a lot of time playing chess while convincing myself it’s some intellectual pursuit.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

That the lessons will just keep coming back until you learn them.

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

Probably something boring like my laptop. Maybe a plane ticket.

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

How hard it is to recognise the ‘good old days’ before you’re out of them.

Who’s your inspiration?

So many Maltese artists, journalists and activists. The ones who keep fighting.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Mental health.

If you weren’t a theatre director what would you be doing?      

I was a journalist in one form or another for most of my working life. I’m convinced I’ll get back to it someday.

Do you believe in God?

I grew out of it.

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

My mum. Or Shakespeare. Both if I could. Maybe they’d get along.

What’s your worst habit?

Smoking, like an idiot.

What are you like when you’re drunk?

I talk way, way too much. I don’t know how anyone tolerates it.

Who would you have play you in a film?

My friend and long-time collaborator Nathan Brimmer, but as a version of me who’s really let himself go.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?


What music would you have played at your funeral?

‘The Trapeze Swinger’ by Iron and Wine.

What is your most treasured material possession?

My mum gave me a handwritten letter on my 18th birthday, a year before she died. I don’t have the courage to read it often so I don’t remember what’s in it, but I’d probably grab it first in a fire.

What is your earliest memory?

I can barely remember what I did last Tuesday.

When did you last cry, and why?

A few days ago. Some news from Ukraine.

Who would you most like to meet?

Meeting Luke Skywalker would be cool.

What’s your favourite food?

I love octopus, which is a moral dilemma because they’re such beautiful, intelligent creatures, but also so tasty.

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

Another WhatsTheirNames grad, James Ryder.

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

1601, Globe Theatre, London, first ever performance of Hamlet. I want to find the one guy who thought it was shit.

What book are you reading right now?

Pinball 1973, Haruki Murakami

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

To be a literal fly on the wall in any room on earth. Think what you could learn.

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

I tried to walk 800km to Santiago de Compostela last year, but got injured a week in. Reaching Santiago is going to be an obsession until I get there.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

Kae Tempest.

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

I mostly just have imaginary arguments that I’ll never have in real life.