A measure of the #MeToo movement
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A measure of the #MeToo movement

Ramona Depares catches up with Joseph Zammit, one of the leads in the upcoming production of Measure for Measure.

This production comes as an evolution by WhatsTheirNames Theatre of the popular Shakespeare at The Pub. What led to the decision to move to a different venue?

Joseph Zammit, Jonathan Dunn and Sandi Von Brockdorff in WhatsTheirNames Theatre’s production of Measure for Measure.Joseph Zammit, Jonathan Dunn and Sandi Von Brockdorff in WhatsTheirNames Theatre’s production of Measure for Measure.

WhatsTheirNames decided to branch out and grow. Even though the brains behind the Shakespeare at The Pub productions are the same ones behind this one, we want to differentiate it a bit from the previous three. They’ll be kept as a trilogy on their own, if you will.

Given some of the rather heavy themes in this problem play, we also think it deserves a less cheerful and bright setting. There’s also the fact that The Pub owner Nathan Brimmer would rather not risk having the director Philip Leone-Ganado break anymore lights by accident during a performance.

You’ve been part of the WhatsTheirNames Shakespeare productions since the beginning. How have you seen them evolve?

I don’t think they actually evolved much, to be honest. We’d learn and improve on previous productions, of course, but they were never anything drastic. We kept the same equation and adapted them to what the edited script and the director provided.  Though hey, we did add fairy lights in one scene in last year’s performance.

This year you’re putting up Measure for Measure. What made the production team pick this play and does it have anything in common with its predecessors?

Measure for Measure was chosen this year mostly because it resonates so strongly with several current social issues, with the #MeToo movement being the most prominent among them. It is disappointingly surprising to find out how, after 500 years, the ugliness of man hasn’t changed a bit.

The production will have certain things in common  with previous plays, especially when it comes to balancing such heavy themes with great moments of comedy. In fact, we have had such an experience with our first production of Two Gentlemen of Verona,  but this year it comes out stronger.

What is a successful recipe for a Shakespeare by WhatsTheirNames Theatre?

Tackling Shakespeare in a more conversational and, for lack of a better term, ‘modern’ way; having the audience close enough that they are basically sitting on stage. And there’s also the quick and crazy doubling of characters. Oh yes, and alcohol. All of which will also be present in this year’s production.

What will be different in this production?

As previously mentioned we’re going a bit bigger when it comes to production value. We will have a set, we will have lights and we’ve also added a professional pianist to the team – Maria-Elena Farrugia. We even have a choreographed piece by Burlesque dancer Undine Le Verve.

Measure for Measure runs daily from April 25 to 28 and from May 2 to 5 at 8pm at The Splendid, Valletta. Tickets can be booked by calling 7734 5207 or 7905 2522 or sending an e-mail to whatstheirnames.theatre@gmail.com.

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