La Divina’s ghost comes to Masque Theatre

Bernie Jacobs and Mokoena Ramollo.

The ghost of La Divina comes to the Masque Theatre with Master Class by Terrence McNally, author of The Full Monty.

This bittersweet, poignant comedy opens on Wednesday August 17 and recreates a master class given by Maria Callas after her voice had deserted her and she is desperately alone, but still impeccably elegant, sardonic and fiery as ever.

Masque regular Bernie Jacobs leads the cast as “La Divina” and her students – or victims as she calls them – are played by Linda Steele, Miranda Lewis and Mokoena Ramollo. The cast is completed by Madame Zingara musician Wesley Wolhuter as the accompanist, and Xolani Qotoyi who plays the stagehand.

As the class progresses and Callas challenges each student to move beyond the limits of their capabilities to meet her own ruthless standards of technique and theatricality, a new memory is triggered. Callas begins to relive her dizzying triumphs and terrifying failures, vicious rivalries, her loveless marriage, her abortion, and her tempestuous relationship with the wealthiest man in the world as the “other woman” in both of his marriages. Her dark and self-deprecating humour and the story of her transformation from ugly duckling to glamour icon reveal a deeper truth behind the hard work that inspired both adoration and loathing: the extreme sacrifices that true art requires.

According to director Richard Higgs, audiences do not need to know anything about opera to become engrossed in this intimate and inspiring play; all they need is a sense of humanity. Higgs is no stranger to Masque audiences. In 2015, he directed Gas Light and played Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Master Class, presented by Muizenberg Dramatic Society (MADS), runs until Saturday August 20. The performances will all take place in the foyer. Audiences are advised that the play contains strong language.

Book through Masque Theatre Bookings on 021 788 1898 or email for details.