The ŻiguŻajg International Arts Festival for Children and Young People is back for another year with its seventh edition. With Valletta 2018 preparations on the horizon, we can definitely expect yet another festival that promises a night full of theatre, dance, music, film and storytelling.


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I met up with the festival director, Daniel Azzopardi and one of the artists, Pamela Kerr, to discuss the build-up of this year’s festival and to see what’s in store.

1. Daniel, ŻiguŻajg is back with its seventh edition. In light of the Valletta 2018 preparations, what can we expect out of this year’s edition? 

This year’s edition will be the most international yet, with 12 countries represented by over 150 participating creatives. The seventh edition will yet again aim to engage new audiences by presenting work of high artistic excellence that also tackles subjects that are most relevant to children and young people. The 10-day programme will have a multi-disciplinary selection of projects dealing with subjects such as the protection of our natural environment, the meaning of family, the effects of solitude, the protection of minors, the repercussions of conflict and the importance of freedom of expression. Kids will be encouraged to express their views with an art installation in the main squares of the capital. In such a framework, our selection aims to champion the arts in a celebration of creativity and diversity.

2. You will also be returning to Gozo with two musical productions. What can you tell me about these projects?

Indeed this year we’ll be returning to Gozo with a programme specifically catered for the communities there. This was one of priorities we had for the 2017 edition to ensure our work reaches as many people as possible. During the festival there’ll be an exclusive opera by the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra about the most notorious villains such as Iago in Othello and Scarpia in Tosca. This show will present a dynamic blend of visuals, live music and flamboyant interpretations by accomplished opera singers. Along with this, we’ll showcase a musical theatre show for primary schools by one of the most inventive companies from Chile about exploring new worlds and traditions. Surely those in attendance will be in for a treat!

3. To name a few, some of the topics tackled in this year’s festival include the conservation of the environment, what it means to be a family, the effects of solitude and the protection of minors. Pamela, can you explain how you chose to go about the delivery of certain topics that are more sensitive than others to target all ages?

In our project we deal with the notion of touch – from the playful naive touch, to something that could be interpreted in an abusive or sexual way. Throughout, there’ll be the underlying question of where do you draw the line between touch – what is socially acceptable and interpreted as playful, to something that can have a very negative meaning. We have opted to choose a clear narrative for the audience to follow and create mundane realities that people could recognise and therefore associate themselves with the scenarios.

4. Pamela, you have your own project, ‘Tag’, in this year’s production. Briefly tell us what we can expect.

I collaborated with Kostas Papamathaiakis for ‘Tag’. It is a dance performance which tells the story of human growth through touch. Featuring two protagonists, one male and one female, it explores the ways in which as children grow their experience of touch changes and yet even in old age we long, desire, and need to be touched both physically and spiritually. During the performance the two protagonists negotiate the opposing feelings of comfort and disquiet at being touched. We question the experience of touch and how it changes with age. And we also look into how our background influences the way we feel about being touched. Lignin Stories provides the dramaturgy for the project and we are also working with The Amber Spark for our soundscape.

Tag, Ziguzajg

 

4. Pamela, you have your own project, ‘Tag’, in this year’s production. Briefly tell us what we can expect.

I collaborated with Kostas Papamathaiakis for ‘Tag’. It is a dance performance which tells the story of human growth through touch. Featuring two protagonists, one male and one female, it explores the ways in which as children grow their experience of touch changes and yet even in old age we long, desire, and need to be touched both physically and spiritually. During the performance the two protagonists negotiate the opposing feelings of comfort and disquiet at being touched. We question the experience of touch and how it changes with age. And we also look into how our background influences the way we feel about being touched. Lignin Stories provides the dramaturgy for the project and we are also working with The Amber Spark for our soundscape.

5. The importance of freedom of expression has always been celebrated in every edition of ŻiguŻajg. How important is it that even children should believe in their hopes and dreams?

I think everyone should believe in their hopes and dreams. I am a strong believer that hope gives life. Children should be encouraged to dream big, to express these dreams and we as adults are to give them hope that they can achieve whatever they dream, with the correct tools.

The festival will be running between 17 and 26 November. Those wishing to attend can purchase their tickets online at ziguzajg.com or from the St James Cavalier box office. For more information call 2122 3200 or visit www.ziguzajg.org.

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© 2017 – VIDA Magazine – Christine Cassar