The Best European Show: A Dramedy of the Absurdities of Theatre and Europe

In our recent chat with Philip Leone Ganado and Gianni Selvaggi, two of the local actors involved in ‘The Best European Show’, we delved into what their personal experiences were while the production travelled across Poland and Parma.

Philip Leone-Ganado, whose character leads a fervent protest outside the jury’s deliberation room, sheds light on the intricacies of his role. “He’s an idealist, but a doer, ready to put himself on the line for what he believes in,” Philip shares. For this seasoned Maltese performer, this project wasn’t merely another production—it was an exploration of collaboration on an unprecedented scale.

Philip mentioned that living in Opole, Poland, for eight weeks meant more than a change of location; it was an immersion into a melting pot of cultures and theatrical traditions. “The rehearsal schedule, from 2 pm to 9 pm, six days a week, turned the cast into a tight-knit family.” Philip fondly reminisces about Sundays filled with too much pasta, too much wine, and Eurovision songs, creating bonds that transcended language barriers. 

Philip was mostly struck by how accustomed the other theatres and artists were to these sorts of co-productions. “Whatever barriers we in Malta perceive to exist – languages, resources, culture – other countries and theatres have already figured out how to overcome”, he says. “Our theatre can only become stronger and richer by opening itself up to Europe and the wider world. This has to be a priority.”

Gianni Selvaggi, who played the role of Eden, the Festival Director’s assistant, reflects on his character’s evolution. Initially discreet, Eden becomes more vocal, subtly influencing unfolding scenarios. Selvaggi’s portrayal unfolds against the rich backdrop of European theatre politics, mirroring the intricate dance of passion and politics. “Imagine taking the concept of that contest and applying it to the Theatre world. As a production, I would say it’s quite an interesting, absurdist comedic tragedy.” “The experiences in Poland and Parma offered distinct flavours. Opole, with its serene atmosphere, provided an ideal environment for concentrated work. Parma, on the other hand, brought the thrill of performing in the Teatro Farnese, a Renaissance gem that left an indelible mark on our artistic soul.” 

Selvaggi mentioned that the interaction with audiences in Poland and Italy revealed subtle differences. The Italian audience, less reliant on surtitles, focused more on the physicality of the performance. These distinct reactions highlight the play’s universal appeal, transcending language barriers to deliver a powerful message.

Among the cherished memories, Selvaggi recalls a spontaneous swim in a freshwater lake with Philip in Opole. These moments encapsulate the essence of the production—a blend of seriousness and absurdity, much like the show itself. For Selvaggi, the most significant takeaway was realising that the production united European actors, each with diverse backgrounds and practices, to create something special. “It’s really no small feat – getting 5 theatres to co-produce a piece of work with 11 actors, surrounded by 8 different languages… is something quite special.”

Ahead of its premiere at The Teatru Manoel in February, Leone-Ganado and Selvaggi describe the show as a thought-provoking piece on European theatre, an opportunity to experience exceptional actors not seen before on a Maltese stage, and a glimpse into the potential future of Maltese theatre as an integral part of the European artistic landscape.

Early bird tickets for ‘The Best European Show’ have just been launched and will only be available until December 31st. Seize the opportunity to secure your seats. Purchase your tickets here