Last Summer the Malta International Arts Festival hosted what was probably Malta’s largest touring street theatre show. Over 2500 people turned up and the squares were buzzing with audiences waiting for... a bus. Some came with their own chairs, others sat down on the parvis whilst others stood up close to the cast.
Sean Buhagiar’s B’Tal-Linja Jaqbillek Żgur! was a show that toured the five regions of the Maltese Islands becoming the first theatre project to work regionally since the five regions were established. Kalkara, Birkirkara, Mellieħa, Siġġiewi and Żebbuġ Gozo were the lucky squares. This time, the show is back for our National Carnival Celebrations!
The audience will enjoy the talent of a stellar cast and lively ensemble as the magical bus enters the square, filling it with smoke and bubbles. The cast, led by veteran singer and actress Mary Rose Mallia, gives a very energetic performance during the 50 minute show. The star of the show is Mary Rose Mallia. “I believe Mary Rose Malliia has an amazing talent. Both Simon and myself are extremely pleased to have her captaining our bus. Nonetheless, the whole cast is a real tour-de-force!” said Buhagiar. The show features a great cast with names such as Clive Piscopo, Ronald Briffa, Jamie Cardona, Gilbert Formosa, Marilù Vella, Andre’ Mangion, Leigh-Ann Abela and Josette Ciappara.
The ensemble was created through a social theatre programme. A number of auditions were performed in schools and village drama groups. Many of the chosen ensemble actors come from backgrounds of passion plays, village shows and processions. The ensemble is led by experienced actresses such as Christine Francalanza and Alison Ablea. “This gives a stronger value to the project. Besides being wildly entertaining, this is a community project, a social project, and a regional project which hopefullyl leads to more democratization of local theatre” believes Buhagiar.
The concept is simple. An old Maltese Bus gets to the square. The carnival audiences will then be enthralled with the splashes of colour, song, fire, comedy and much more. The show is also interactive with members of the audience, including the captain of the bus – Mary Rose Mallia – choosing someone from among the audience to board the bus. Simon Bartolo wrote a script with a different style this time – adapting his tongue-in-cheek to street theatre and surrealism. The script also deals with very social issues such as the environment, language, religion and politics.
Buhagiar, who is directing and producing the show, said, “After this summer’s success, we were very proud to present the show again. Street Theatre and Carnival have a lot in common. The cast are more than delighted to re-create their colourful characters, and we are told the carnival audiences will be delighted with the spectacle.”
This project was co-funded by FOPSIM through the EU Collective Plays! project which is funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union. The show will run on Saturday the 25th of February at 9pm in St George’s Square, Valletta during the Official Malta Carnvial and on Sunday the 26th February at 3pm, at the Rabat Carnival Stage during the Official Gozo Carnival.