Sliema's Oldest Theatre Is Set To Get An Awesome Contemporary Makeover

The 110-year-old theatre is also one of the island's oldest

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Teatru Salesjan is not only Sliema's oldest and longest-running theatre. The building, which also houses an original Giuseppe Cali fresco, is also one the oldest on the island that was purposely built as a theatre... after Valletta's own Manoel, of course. The 110-year-old theatre has been through it all, but it's now set to embark on a new adventure. And it's one that promises to preserve all of its best features will completely reshaping others.

Popular local architect Chris Briffa was commissioned to give the theatre, which was formerly known as Juventutis Domus a new breath of life. "Many of the original features, altered or lost over the years will in fact be restored under this scheme," the theatre's board of directors explained. However, what did change appears all set to take the century-old theatre into the next couple of decades.

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The Teatru Salesjan many people have come to know and love

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The future of Teatre Salesjan; Chris Briffa Architects' re-interpretation

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Still reminiscent and respectful of the age-old design and layout of the theatre, the seating area is set to remain largely untouched

This latest unveiling of what Sliema's old building will eventually look like comes as a result of a project which Teatru Salesjan had run back in 2017 called commUNITY. The project was funded through the Voluntary Organisation Project Scheme managed by the Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector on behalf of the Parliamentary Secretary for Youth, Sport and Voluntary Organisation.

Last Friday, the theatre opened its doors to share the news with locals, enthusiast and patrons alike. The event closed off with an exhibition showing off the plans and renders of the proposed refurbishments. "It is fitting in this European Capital of Culture year to launch ourselves into a new era of community involvement with such confidence," Teatru Salesjan said. "We are proud and fond of our past but we do not dwell there. Instead we look ever forward to a bright future educating the young people of our community through cultural activity. We are a dream-factory for the young, we are engineers of the imagination for generations of Maltese youth."

The auditorium is not the only feature of the building that's set to receive Chris Briffa's makeover. A new entrance will be constructed on the side of the theatre, one which will hold the bulk of the contemporary exterior design. The building's roof is also set to get a well-needed revamp, adding a performance area which is set to be a grand performance space amidst the Sliema skyline.

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Souvenirs of Teatru Salesjan's decorated past

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Chris Briffa, the Maltese architect whose firm was entrusted with this project. Photo by Kris Micallef

The project's concept has yet to receive official PA permits, but applications are set to be put in motion soon.

"This is what I think good contemporary architectural development looks like," creative director and board member James Spiteri said of the project. "Tas-Sliema lacks this level of sensitivity to its heritage."

"We are not and have no wish to be a museum. We are a working building and our business is people – it is their laughter, their industry, the hopes they once fostered, the realities they faced in times of trouble that we salute."

Anyone wishing to contribute towards achieving this goal can send an e-mail to [email protected]

What do you make of Teatru Salesjan's proposed plans? Let us know in the comments below

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Written By

David Grech Urpani

Sarcastically ironic, Dave is a recovering hipster musician with a penchant for chicken, women's clothes and Kanye.