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MaltaToday 25 October 2023 MIDWEEK

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NEWS 10 maltatoday | WEDNESDAY • 25 OCTOBER 2023 BENJAMIN Abela and Brendon Thearle, in collaboration with Spaz- ju Kreattiv, have announced their upcoming original play, NOSTRUM. Set in Malta in the near future, NOSTRUM follows 28-year-old budding musician Shawn as he starts consuming Vexatel – a new type of medication that will make him forget his recently deceased girlfriend, Katrina. Throughout this weeks-long process, Shawn meets Steff, an employee working for the company producing Vexatel. As she administers his medication, the two discover an unsavoury truth about Katrina's demise. NOSTRUM explores the events leading up to Shawn's decision to start the treatment, the secrets Steff is hiding from her patient, and how Shawn's unlikely friendship with Steff alters his view on grief. The play, performed in Maltese and English, tackles an array of is- sues and themes relevant to the Mal- tese Islands, such as mental health, grief, and psychological support. In light of this, local mental health NGO Richmond Foundation has been closely involved throughout the project's developmental process to ensure that such sensitive topics are being dealt with in a responsible manner. This run of NOSTRUM, direct- ed by Benjamin Abela & Brendon Thearle and written by Benjamin Abela, features performances from Aidan Aquilina (playing Shawn), Sa- rah Amato (playing Steff), and Lua- na Farrugia (playing Katrina). NOSTRUM's creative team com- prises Leah Davies (Stage Manager), Chris Gatt (Light Designer), Luke Cucciardi (Sound Designer), and Zsofiá Kelemen (Intern). Benjamin Abela, Writer & Co-Di- rector, said, "Maltese society tends to be overwhelmingly conservative in how it deals with grief. With NOS- TRUM, we seek to shine a spotlight on exactly that, whilst showing that celebrating the lives of our deceased loved ones, as opposed to mourning them in silence, may be a healthier course of action. The project's team couldn't be more thankful to our sponsors and collaborating organ- isations for helping us bring NOS- TRUM to life." "This project is very dear to me; not only from a professional aspect, but also from a personal one. Grief and loss are universal experiences that feed well into NOSTRUM's sto- ry, and having such talented young artists bring this text to life on stage is bound to be an unforgettable ex- perience for myself and the rest of the project's creative team," Bren- don Thearle, Co-Director, said. The play will be staged at the Spaz- ju Kreattiv Theatre, Valletta on 3rd November at 8pm, 4th November at 8pm, and 5th November at 7pm. The performance on 3rd Novem- ber will be followed by a brief panel discussion about the project and its corresponding themes. About Benjamin Abela Benjamin has performed in count- less productions, including Stu- dio 18's Dear Pete, Teatru Malta's Is-Serra, Studio 18 & ŻiguŻajg's Ineż Kienet Perf(etta), Culture Venture's Il-Pożittivi, and Studio 18 & Spazju Kreattiv's Il-Giddieb Għomru Twil. His role within the local theatre industry goes beyond that of an actor. Benjamin's writing credits include Pandora, An Ode to Teen Angst: The COVID Chronicles, and Popolazzjoni: 4 (produced by Ħassle Mejjet Theatre Collective), L-Aħħar Siġra (produced by Ħassle Mejjet Theatre Collective and Just Another Collective for ŻiguŻajg), and Help! Barbetti Go Bohemian! and iLand (produced by Studio 18). In 2017, Benjamin co-founded the Ħassle Mejjet Theatre Collective. About Brendon Thearle Brendon has performed in vari- ous productions, such as: MADC's The Merry Wives of Windsor, Ma- noel Theatre's The Impressario, FM Theatre Production's Christmas pantomime The Little Mermaid - The Panto Under the Sea, MADC's Breaking the Code, and A Kick in the Baubles, as well as, Popolazzjoni: 4 amongst others. He has also directed a number of theatre productions, including Pan- dora, L-Aħħar Siġra, and most re- cently The Fourth Wall for MADC's One Act Play Festival. He is currently sitting for a Bach- elor in Theatre (Honours) degree at the School of Performing Arts with- in the University of Malta. Unmasking grief: New play 'NOSTRUM' tackles mental health in Malta NOSTRUM is being produced as part of Spazju Kreattiv's programme of events for the 2023/24 season

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