Eighty years since their first Shakespeare at San Anton gardens, Malta Amateur Dramatic Club (MADC) will continue their long-standing tradition of producing an annual Shakespeare play in San Anton Gardens – this time with ‘As You Like It’. “I think [Shakespeare’s] works are timeless and his characters are relatable to modern audiences. “Everyone can relate to the highs and lows that come with being in love, flirting, not being loved back and everything that goes with it,” says Steffi Thake, who plays the role of Celia in the production.

Steffi Thake. Photo credit: Jan Zammit

When Celia’s father the Duke banishes Rosalind, Celia decides to flee with her beloved cousin. “As actors we need to be able to understand what’s going on in [a character’s] life,” Steffi Thake continues. “What would I do if the person I loved most in this world was banished by my father? How would I feel if she stopped hanging out with me to spend time with her new love?”

Whilst remaining faithful to Shakespeare’s original plot and characters, the actors will play different roles as the story moves between the play’s two worlds. The story revolves around lovers Rosalind and Orlando, who are forced into exile in the Forest of Arden and become entangled in a beguiling game of love, lust and mistaken identity, ‘As You Like It’ is one of the Bard’s funniest and most moving romantic comedies, with coming-of-age themes that are as relevant today as when it was first performed.

“We are faced with the same emotions and desires as any other person who might have lived in the 16th/17th Century. ‘As You Like It’ might not be your typical love story but it’s a really fun and easy watch, and Maltese audiences are bound to enjoy themselves, even if they’ve never watched a Shakespeare play before!” Steffi Thake, who returned to Malta after studies in London, told Eve.

The play’s signature statement, ‘All the world’s a stage,’ is particularly suiting for the occasion when MADC is about to transform San Anton Gardens into a unique open-air theatre to stage the play. “For a play with such an iconic and evocative backdrop as the Forest of Arden, there really is no better place to perform it than San Anton Gardens in summer, which provides a perfect fit for the forest’s magic and splendour,” says director Philip Leone-Ganado.

Scene from the preparations for the show

‘As You Like It’ will feature a stellar local cast of fresh faces alongside experienced, established actors, including Chris Dingli, Stephen Oliver, Jonathan Dunn, Steffi Thake, Roberta Cefai, Chiara Hyzler, Gianni Selvaggi, Michael Mangion, Rambert Attard, Maxine Brimmer, Becky D’Ugo, Joe Depasquale and Daniel Formosa.

‘As You Like It’ will be performed at San Anton Gardens in Attard between 13th and 22nd July. Further information and tickets are available online on MADC’s website.

Further reading:

Interview with Steffi Thake

Interview with Rambert Attard