Hax-Xjuh – the first ever panto with a cast and crew who are over 60 years old
The Ministry for Justice, Culture and Local Government, through the national theatre company Teatru Malta, and in collaboration with the Parliamentary Secretarariat for Persons with Disability and Active Ageing announced the premier of the upcoming Christmas Pantomime Ħax-Xjuħ at the Metanoia community theatre in Ħal Luqa.
“It is thanks to such productions that we ensure to uphold our cultural strategy, to keep on making culture and the arts more accessible to communities of all ages, especially during the festive season” stated Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government Owen Bonnici during the press conference. “Opportunities for veterans to engage in the arts don’t come often enough, so it gives me great pride to see Teatru Malta collaborate with the Parliamentary Secretarariat for Persons with Disability and Active Ageing to shed light on the importance of such initiatives on our island’’ Minister Bonnici continued.
The production written by acclaimed playwright Tony Cassar Darien, and director Josette Ciappara will mark the first pantomime in Malta’s history made up of a cast of people who are over 60. This doesn’t just include the main cast but also the ensemble, dancers, and artistic team behind the Christmas spectacle. This has all been made possible with the assistance of assistant director Giovann Attard together with long-time dancer and teacher Alison White choreographing, and the incomparable Maestro Paul Abela as music director with a comical set design by Donald Friggieri.
Parliamentary Secretary for persons with disability and active ageing Anthony Agius Decelis said that this is another collaboration this time with Minister Owen Bonnici, implementing another promise from the electoral manifesto to strengthen active ageing. Hon Agius Decelis said that the Pantomime ‘Ħax-Xjuħ’ is the first production of its kind, thanks to Teatru Malta, proving how this Government believes that culture is one of the strong pillars for active ageing.
Parliamentary Secretary Agius Decelis said that this is the first time where all the artists of this theatrical production are all senior citizens. The parliamentary secretary said that not only will this be a positive experience for senior citizens who want to remain active, but also is serving as an opportunity for our senior citizens who always wanted to fulfill their dream in showing their artistic abilities in the theatre scene. He said this will be another positive project, as not only the artists are all senior citizens but is being mainly produced to encourage other senior citizens to participate in artistic activities. Hon Agius Decelis thanked Minister Bonnici for this healthy collaboration, to encourage our senior citizens to live active ageing in the most positive way.
The formidable cast also includes Maltese favourites Joe Farrugia d-Dulli who plays Rita Kalamita the Ħax-Xjuħ dame, wife and fellow actress Veronica Farrugia, Philip Vella, Ray Calleja, Narcy Calamatta, Theresa Gauci and Gwido Fenech amongst other incredible actors and performers!
"The production has been a joy to work on" says director Ciappara with the auditions for the ensemble cast last August perhaps being the greatest highlight. "We had almost 70 men and women over 60 apply. Most of these men and women have never sung or danced before but have fully committed to their rehearsals in addition to their vocal and dance training proving that you're never too old to try something new!’’ she continued.
Arts Council Malta’s executive Chair Albert Marshall pointed out how it’s his pleasure to see theatre take on such a humorous tone and said that’it’s his aspiration to see Teatru Malta continue to build a body of work that incorporates quality comedy that celebrates a lighter hearted freedom of expression, productions like Ħax-Xjuħ exemplify this exact ideology while remaining true to realities of the community in which it’s rooted. It’s imperative that Teatru Malta continue to move in this direction.
Ħax-Xjuh is a comical western pantomime for the whole family, which opens on the 12th of December and runs until the 15th of December at Teatru Metanoia in Ħal Luqa. Euro 5 tickets can be purchased from www.kultura.mt . For more information please call 21220255 or visit www.teatrumalta.org.