Newly Appointed Artistic Director Wants A Young Team To Run Teatru Malta

"In today's world, there's no time to produce productions that are obvious"

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Sean Buhagiar, the Artistic Director of Notte Bianca and former Deputy Artistic Director of Valletta 2018 has been selected by a panel of experts to become the Artistic Director of Teatru Malta. The new entity will promote and engender the progression of local theatre. Lovin Malta spoke to Buhagiar about his appointment, and what the role of the new structure will be.

"Teatru Malta is a national theatre company that’s not associated to a specific building. Meaning it can challenge what theatre can be, it can use different spaces, be a guest in other people’s venues. Ultimately it’s a national theatre company that will work all over the island," Buhagiar said. 

He was appointed after an international call for candidates earlier this year. There were 25 submissions in total, including a number of foreign candidates with high-calibre profiles and experience in the field overseas. 

"I want to work with young talent to create something which is bloody exciting"

Sean Buhagiar, Artistic Director – Teatru Malta
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Buhagiar is thrilled to have been selected from a group which he considers to be the creme de la creme of theatre. He is most excited that the panel has chosen to elect a young director, which he believes is key to the success of Teatru Malta.

"They’ve chosen a young artistic director – and I want to work with young talent to create something which is bloody exciting," he said. "Choosing the team is going to be a very exciting part of the process. Right now I’ve been given a carte blanche, [Teatru Malta] is an entity that has just been born – we need to set up a team, we need to collaborate. We need all the theatre community to give their input to this."

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Photo: Kris Micallef

At the start of this year, Buhagiar resigned from his post as Deputy Artistic Director for Valletta 2018 with immediate effect after falling out with Artistic Director Mario Philip Azzopardi. When asked what kind of spirit he would work to foster amongst his team at Teatru Malta, Buhagiar's focal agenda was collaborative energy. 

"I am all for the spirit of collaboration. The time for the lone artistic director has gone, it doesn’t work anymore. As creators we need to innovate together, and the spirit of Teatru Malta will be one of producing – with different artists, for different audiences – in true collaboration".

"The clash for me is dead and gone. I didn’t agree with a particular individual but I’m still excited to produce work here because I feel that it’s an exciting time. And with the challenges we are facing globally – I think we can use this new entity to have an open voice."

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Photo: Valletta 2018 - European Capital of Culture / Facebook

In light of his resignation and the more recent one by Pia Zammit's from the Manoel Theatre board, we asked Buhagiar whether the theatre scene in Malta is going through a mild-revolt, or if it's just that the people in high places can't get along...

"I think people want to make a change, and that’s why I’m keen on a young feel – a young vibe. Because the new generation are all for collaboration and I think we should use that to our advantage."

"We have to be bold, we have to challenge the sector, and be groundbreaking – I don’t want anything we produce to be obvious."

Sean Buhagiar, Artistic Director – Teatru Malta

Teatru Malta will be responsible for creating original works of theatre in collaboration with local and foreign professionals across theatres and performance spaces all over the islands. €170,000 has been allocated by the government towards the first artistic programme in 2018 as part of Valletta European Capital of Culture project. So what's first on the agenda for Buhagiar in his new role?

"2017 will be about listening and setting up the team. The first job will be to produce a programme for 2018. In terms of work I’d like us to produce what I’m calling ‘urgent’ material. We need to tackle things that matter. We have to be bold, we have to challenge the sector, and be groundbreaking – I don’t want anything we produce to be obvious."

Do you think theatre in Malta needs revitalising? Tell us your views in the comments section!

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Written By

Ann Dingli

Ann Dingli writes mostly about art and design. She enjoys friendly debates and has accepted that she's a small person.