Shakespeare but for young adults? Name a generation further from the teachings of the bard, I’ll wait. Roaring Voices, a new young company on the island are trying to change that. I caught up with Alex Weenink and Kay Dimech, members of the company to talk about their first project – The Two Gentlemen of Verona
What is Roaring Voices?
Roaring Voices can be seen as an experiment set up by Teatru Salesjan. The main aim of this performance is to test the waters for the formation of a youth company within Teatru Salesjan. The Two Gentlemen of Verona is Roaring Voices’ debut performance.
Why was the play The Two Gentlemen of Verona chosen?
It was our director Polly March who came up with the idea of putting up this particular play. The first feature of this play that stands out is the youthful vibe it has – it was one of the first plays that Shakespeare wrote and this is evident in how it’s written. The premise of the play is young people figuring out their place in the world, their purpose, and what love is. In a nutshell, it can be seen as the original coming of age story. This makes it very relatable to an audience our age. Being a youth company tackling Shakespeare, it was very important that we understood and connected with the themes of the play, which is something that is usually overlooked when studying Shakespeare.
This particular adaptation is set in the 1950s. Why was this time frame chosen?
One of the best parts of Shakespeare and his work is that the language and themes he uses in his work is timeless, which meant that we could easily give the play a more contemporary twist. First of all, it’s a fun decade, the music, the clothes, the art – it can be seen as an aesthetic choice for sure. But this isn’t the only reason this decade was chosen. It also gives us a wider audience, different generations can all take something unique away from the play and the setting just gives this aspect an extra push.
Can you tell me more about your particular characters in the play?
Alex – I will be playing Valentine. Valentine leaves Verona to seek a better life in Milan. He starts off his journey very critical of love and thinks that it is unnecessary – this is until he falls in love with his boss’s daughter Silvia. He can be seen as being emotionally confused and sort of caught between the past and the present. Throughout the piece, one can witness Valentine figuring out what he wants in his life, which is something he does by making a lot of mistakes in the process.
Kay – I will be playing Silva is one of the two female protagonists of the play. She is strong, open minded and can be seen as being the moral conscience of the piece. The irony of this play is that the ladies are the true gentleman as they are the ones who stay true throughout the play. She is true to herself, yet still loyal to her father.
There is basically always something Shakespeare themed going on in Malta. What makes this production stand out?
This is Shakespeare done solely by young adults- for young adults, something that has not been explored fully by any company in Malta. Our cast ranges from ages 15 to 26 and we’re discussing themes that are super relevant to the age group playing the characters. This is why a younger audience could connect to The Two Gentlemen of Verona more than they could ever do to their O-Level Macbeth. We would really like to thank our director Polly March for pushing us and really helping us understand the piece.
Two Gentlemen of Verona will be held at Teatru Salesjan this weekend.
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