14 Dec A Maltese Christmas collaboration
ŻfinMalta’s new Christmas production, Ħolm tal-Milied? boasts an impressive and long list of collaborators; the final creative effect of which is an incredible multi-faceted work which will be loved by all ages. With the premiere approaching fast, we spoke to just a few of the many artists who are bringing this work to life.
“I gathered an incredible team of creative people for this production. I always wanted to work with The New Victorians. The way they blend their music practice into theatre is really fascinating, and the way they combine story-telling itself with music.” Paolo Mangiola, Artistic Director
Philippa Naudi, The New Victorians/Directors & Composers
“This is a first time for us working with only dance. We have been lucky enough to work with ŻfinMalta before for ‘Sette,’ but that was also with a large ensemble of actors. This is the first time we are telling a story entirely through dance, which is a challenge! It’s a new challenge for us, but it’s fun, it’s exciting, and it’s scary. We are finding new languages, and it’s very much a collaboration on all fronts…choreographer, composer, set designer, costume designer…and we will have to wait for the outcome, but it’s definitely exciting.”
Victor Jacono played an integral role in this process, as a dramaturg, writer, and narrator. We spoke to Victor about the challenges behind his role, and the outcome of this ambitious collaboration.
It’s a bit like life, what you see on the skin is not what’s under the surface, on the skeletal level or the muscular level, yet when everything is in place, you have something which is alive.
Victor Jacono/ Dramaturgy, writing, and narration
“It’s incredible how in this work, you can clearly see there is a lot of creativity, but also behind it there’s a lot of measure…measure of getting every moment in the correct timing, in the correct dynamic. The beauty of this work is that there are so many different aesthetics coming together. On paper, you might think, how are these going to fit? But actually, they do. It’s a bit like life, what you see on the skin is not what’s under the surface on the skeletal level, or the muscular level, yet when everything is in place, you have something which is alive.”
“As a writer and theatre maker myself, I loved the fact that they [The New Victorians] gave me very clear constraints… It’s great. Even in my my past experiences’ of working with others, constraints really help creativity…sometimes you have to bang your head against a wall to get there…but then the results are so rewarding and beautiful.”
“It was great to work with The New Victorians because as musicians, they have a different approach to music, theatre, and dance. It was great to see how my world could learn from another perspective. This is the first time I have taken part in a music collaboration, and also the first time that I have a specific narrative to work on. I would normally choose to work with very abstract elements, but I have never created work with a set atmosphere and set characters. It was very difficult for me to keep within this challenge…to not be free to explore everything I usually would, but in another way it’s a big step for my career: learning new ways to create material, and the ways in which their music can inform my movement and process.”
Adriano's work is so beautiful, and really matches what we are trying to say with this work. It's powerful dance, made with gestures and changes in qualities that really marry so well with The New Victorian's vision of the work. Paolo Mangiola, Artistic Director
On tradition remixed…
Bettina Muchmore, The New Victorians/Directors & Composers
“I am working on the music for the production of Holm tal–Milied, and together we have been creating all the musical arrangements and soundtracks for every part of the show. We will also be performing live…all the singing, the keys, and the synths. I think my favourite song so far is ‘O Ġesù Ħelwa Tarbija,’ Obviously we didn’t write that song, it’s a traditional Maltese carol, but I love the arrangement we have made. If you’re up for some Maltese Carols reimagined, some good vibes, and some moody Christmas Nostalgia, then you will love this production.”
If you're up for some Maltese Carols reimagined, some good vibes, and some moody Christmas Nostalgia, then you will love this production.
Laurent Uyttersprot/Costume design
“I received the general mood-board based on the story that has to be told, and then from discussions with The New Victorians, I brought some fashion fabrics which maybe we are not used to seeing in the dance and theatre worlds. There is a mix of fashion elements, but also combined with traditional elements, for example working on a Maltese għonella, a very big black mourning hat with beautiful lace…”
On large scale collaboration…
Anna Horvath/Set design
“We have a real international and widespread team on this production which is amazing, and I am so grateful to have met and had the chance to work with these people. More people means more opinions, and more needs that I have had to satisfy. So there has been challenges, but I think we really came together and found solutions that work for the set, for the design, for the dancers, for all elemnts of the company, and for The New Victorians.”
Florinda Camilleri/Ballet Master
“As ballet master for Ħolm tal-Milied, I am doing many different things. It’s a very demanding role. My first duty is towards the dancers, to make sure that they have the right conditions in order to perform at their best, but also to keep developing artistically as individuals and as a company. Meanwhile, I am taking care of these many different collaborators, and how the communication happens between them. It’s incredible to be working with such accomplished artists…but this means a lot to juggle and facilitate. The communication is quite demanding as we are never all here at the same time. Things often come up in the moment and need to be responded to by different people artistically, logistically….in many aspects, so we are always having to bounce things to and fro, and in the end come to decisions!”
On why you shouldn’t miss this!…
Paolo Mangiola/ Artistic Director
“To me, Holm is something quite powerful because we tell a story through the eyes of a little boy with a dream, encountering many children on his path to find happiness. Nowadays, this is such a powerful message considering everything that is happening out there in the world. I just cant wait to share this experience with you. It’s something unique, created for Malta, and a show told through Maltese story-telling. It’s a show rooted in our Maltese culture, which is really quite beautiful.”
It's something unique, created for Malta, and a show told through Maltese story-telling. It's a show rooted in our Maltese culture, which is really quite beautiful.
Ħolm tal–Milied will be performed at Valletta Campus Theatre for seven shows! Don’t miss your chance to see this magical Christmas collaboration, ŻfinMalta’s take on Trevor Żahra’s classic book, directed and composed by the brilliantly talented New Victorians.
Valletta Campus Theatre
Watch James Vernon’s trailer for Ħolm tal-Milied?