“Evil relished in all its variety."
“A maverick with an awesome stage presence.”
“A performance touched with magic and genius.”
The experience, watching a man who is truly in love with his subject, is indulgently enjoyable.'
Once again Steven Berkoff holds the stage alone - this time with his dazzling interpretation and analysis of Shakespeare's most villainous characters: Iago, the Macbeths, Shylock, Richard III, Hamlet… Characters who are inherently evil, others whose situation leads them to evil deeds, others at the mercy of an evil society. Incisive insights into the psyche give way to Shakespeare's own words which explode into the auditorium from one of the UK's most formidable and maverick talents. In his show, which is part pedagogy, part snippy stand-up and part tour de force acting dazzle, Steven Berkoff zips through a lecture on a cache of Shakespearean characters with the kind of flair that can turn indifferent students into drama majors! It is not only a wonderful character study, but also a fascinating history lesson. Ultimately, it is a thoroughly enjoyable theatrical event.
In an illustrious stage and screen career Steven Berkoff has got under the skin of many of our most memorable bad guys: psychos, murderers, gangsters and autocrats - from Bond baddies to Hamlet; from Rambo's nemesis to Coriolanus. His multi-faceted, international career encompasses original plays such as East, West, Decadence, as well as some with catchy titles like Kvetch and Brighton Beach Scumbags. Now Berkoff brings this wealth of experience to Shakespeare’s most notorious villains in a way that challenges, exhilarates and entertains.
"Shakespeare’s Villains" has toured the world, and been performed in India, USA, Italy, Israel, and Brazil. It is now arriving in Malta as well, with three performances at the Teatru Manoel from the 2nd to the 4th of February 2007. All performances start at 19:30, and tickets, which start from Lm4.50, can be purchased from the Teatru Manoel’s booking office. To contact the booking office please phone on 21 222 618 or email on firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you can book online by visiting www.teatrumanoel.com.mt
In addition, the British Council has teamed up with the University of Malta’s Faculty of Arts to host two lectures by Professor John Gillies within the same week. Professor Gillies is an eminent Shakespearean and Head of the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies at the University of Essex. Professor Gillies will be delivering two lectures which will be of undoubted interest to anyone interested in Shakespeare’s plays.
On Wednesday, 31st January, as part of the Faculty’s ‘Literature and Comparison Seminar Series’, Professor Gillies will be delivering a lecture called "Unspeakable Contents: Shakespeare on the Boulevard du Crime". The venue for the lecture is the Gateway Building, Hall E1, and the lecture will start at 5pm.
On Thursday, 1st February, Professor Gillies will be delivering another lecture called "Shakespeare in Exotic Performance Mode: Style and Stylisation". The venue will be the Sala Isouard at the Manoel Theatre, and the lecture will start at 7pm.
Read the interview with Steven Berkoff by Herman Grech (published in "M" in December 2006).
Iago is a character from Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello. Iago begins his web of villainy when his colleague, Cassio, is promoted over himself the Moorish general Othello. In order to take revenge Iago set out to trick Othello into believing Desdemona, his wife, is having an affair with Cassio. Iago’s plan succeeds and it is not until Othello has killed Desdemona in a fit of jealousy that he discovers Iago’s betrayal and villainy.
Macbeth is a Scottish general who is led to wicked thoughts by the prophecies of the three witches, who tell him that he will one day be king. Spurred on by the ambition of his wife, Lady Macbeth, the two plot to murder Duncan, the king of Scotland, which would leave Macbeth next in line to the throne. Macbeth attempts the murder, however, it is not until his wife assists him that he is able go through with the deed. Having begun a path of villainy Macbeth finds it increasingly easy to commit crimes including further murders. Macbeth’s confidence increases even more when the witches seemingly assure him that he cannot be killed by any man “of woman born”. However, the witches are proven true when Macbeth is killed by Macduff who tells Macbeth that he was “untimely ripped” from his mother’s womb, in modern terms, a Caesarean.
Lady Macbeth, however, embarks on a different emotional journey after the murder of Duncan. From the cold heartless woman that used intimidation to urge her husband to kill the king Lady Macbeth become increasingly wrecked by guilt, which eventually leads to her to suicide by jumping from a window of the castle.
Richard III begins the play, bearing his name, as the Duke of Gloucester. Richard is discontent with his lot in life both with his disfigurement and with the fact that he is brother to King Edward IV. At the beginning of the play Richard vows to become the king of England. In the course of his evil ways, Richard kills, or has put to death, his elder brother Clarence, his wife Anne, the two young princes and all those who support them. After this tirade of violence Richard finds himself alienated from the court and feared and loathed by his subjects. An uprising begins lead by the Earl of Richmond who is living in France. Richmond’s forces invade England and Richard is killed in the battle, and Richmond is crowned king.
Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark, is set on a course of revenge after his father’s ghost appears on the barricades of Danish castle, Ellsinore. The Ghost tells Hamlet that Hamlet’s uncle, Claudius, who is now king, was responsible for his death. Hamlet’s search for revenge leads to many deaths within the Danish court including Polonius, who Hamlet kills by stabbing him through a curtain. Ophelia, Hamlet’s onetime love, commits suicide after being driven mad first by Hamlet’s rejection and then by the death of her father Polonius at Hamlet’s hands. Hamlet, throughout the play, is plagued by indecision and searches for undeniable proof that Claudius was responsible for his father’s death, however, this indecision has a high cost to those in Hamlet’s close circle. By the end of the play Hamlet is responsible for the deaths of his mother, Claudius, Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and ultimately himself.
The dispute between Oberon and Titania, King and Queen of Fairies, are over a boy whom Titania has adopted and forms one of the many plot threads of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In order to take the boy as his own Oberon instructs his servant Puck to bring him magic love drops, which Oberon will sprinkle in the Queen's eyes as she sleeps, whereupon Titania will fall in love with the first creature she sees upon awakening. In her path Puck sets Bottom a particularly unattractive human, made even more so by the fact that Puck has placed the head of a donkey of Bottom’s own head. Intoxicated by this magic flower Titania gives up her claim of the changeling boy. However, Oberon during his journey through the woods sees the four love crossed youths: Lysander, Hermia, Helena and Demetrius. Oberon sets Puck onto the youths so that the love potion can sort out their conflicting desires. However when Puck places the love potion on the wrong set of eyelids comic confusion ensues.
Shylock is the Jewish usurer who features in The Merchant of Venice. When Antonio and Bassanio approach Shylock in order to take out a loan so that Bassanio can court the wealthy Portia. Shylock agrees to give Bassanio the loan if Antonio acts as guarantor. Shylock agrees not to charge interest on the loan, as was his practice, however he stipulates that if the loan can not be repaid then he will be entitled to a pound of Antonio’s flesh. Shylock’s reasoning for this is that he is resentful of Antonio’s past actions where he made a habit of berating Shylock and other Jews for charging interest for loans. When news arrives that Antonio’s ships have been lost at sea Shylock uses this to demand his pound of flesh, as it would now seem that Antonio would be unable to repay the debt. A trial is called in order to sort out the problem and Portia, disguised as a lawyer, argues that Shylock should be able to take his pound of flesh, however he can not spill any blood as this was not specified in the contract. Trapped by this logic Shylock is then accused of conspiring against the life of a Venetian, the punishment of which means that he must give up all of his property.