This year, for the 25th anniversary since the death of the insurmountable literary heavyweight Francis Ebejer, Teatru Malta, in co-production with the Manoel Theatre, will be bringing back a fresh adaptation of his modern classic, Boulevard.
It will premiere on Thursday and run until September 9 at the Manoel Theatre, under the direction of Toni Attard with choreography by Paolo Mangiola in collaboration with ŻfinMalta.
The performance features acting veterans Antonella Axisa, Thomas Camilleri, Stephen Mintoff and Aaron Fenech, as well as dancers Keith Micallef, Martina Zammit, Nicola Micallef, Jure Gostincar and Abel Hernandez from ŻfinMalta.
In this latest adaptation of a play which retains its relevance today, Attard works closely with his cast as well as Mangiola to re-communicate the classic through movement and text-based performance.
The play’s characters wait for a ship that ultimately never arrives and wonder “what’s next?”.
When the show premiered at the Manoel Theatre in 1964 it was apparent that Ebejer wanted to shock his audience out of complacency, in order to expose theatre-goers to the harsh realities of the human condition.
“In truth, the message that Ebejer conveys is anything but one of despair. It is intended to be perceived as a personal journey of acceptance of the human condition, in all its mystery and absurdity,” says Attard.
Karmen Azzopardi, who played Martiża in the original, recalls how cast members also struggled to understand what it was that they were actually doing on stage.
Until very close to opening night, “no one understood anything,’’ except for the fact that it was a process and part of the vision of a director they all had blind faith in.
Paul Xuereb, who had played Blonk in the original, also fondly recalled working with Ebejer.
“It pleases me to know that the public have yet another opportunity to watch it again.”
Both Azzopardi and Xuereb will be making guest appearances throughout Boulevard’s run.
“Maltese theatre as we know it is more indebted to Ebejer and his revolutionary style of writing than we will probably ever realise,” says Teatru Malta’s Sean Buhagiar.
Kenneth Zammit Tabona, the Manoel Theatre’s artistic director, who along with Buhagiar believed in the importance and relevance of the revival of this classic confesses that, though Boulevard is a very experimental play, it is well worth the risk.
“Written at a time when Harold Pinter had taken the world by storm with theatre of the absurd, Ebejer’s peregrinations into this genre were doomed to be largely misunderstood by the audiences of the time and its revival in 2018 is an ambitious project which I hope you will enjoy as much as we all enjoyed conceiving and actuating.”
When Teatru Malta and the Manoel Theatre approached ŻfinMalta to collaborate on this production, it was done with the intention of re-adapting this classic through a language Ebejer had rarely ever experimented with – dance, even though the directors were to find out that the original production also included choreography.
It was said that each of Ebejer’s complex characters were representations of obstacles he had either faced or was in some way still facing.
Much like Ebejer before them, Attard and Mangiola experiment with different styles of theatrical craftsmanship to readapt this beloved piece in all its modern glory.
Tickets are available online or by calling 2124 6389.
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