The only festival in Malta which puts children and young people firmly at its centre is back for a fourth edition which promises to charm adults and children alike
A bedside puppet show on a moving trolley, a performance which creates poetry out of drifting plastic bags and an installation which places children’s paintings at the centre of Valletta. ŻiguŻajg Arts Festival for Children & Young People is back for a fourth edition which promises to be full of spectacle, colour and imagination.
Running from 17-23 November, the festival will feature an amazing 28 productions, including 12 foreign shows from seven different countries. Artists from Spain, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands among others will team up with some of the best Maltese artists to create the only festival in Malta where children and young people are truly centre stage.
Children are expected to flock to the festival which, this year, will have an expected audience of 12,000 – half of which will come from schools – who will attend the over 132 events in the week-long programme.
From music to dance, from the visual arts to puppetry, and from mime to shadow theatre, children are immersed in a set of parallel worlds where dreams and memories, forests and gardens, fairytale and reality come together to tell gripping storylines which children will relate to.
But although these worlds might be populated with puffins, flamingos, talking toys and clothes, this is one festival which does not shy away from the more sinister and sadder aspects of life. There are also stories about bullying, being sick – even an artistic project intended to spark thought on selfies.
This year’s theme in fact revolves around identity with artists such as Trevor Zahra, Austin Camilleri, Simone Spiteri, Ruben Zahra and Vince Briffa exploring notions of identity with great sensitivity and imagination.
“Artists are aware of their responsibility – this might well be the first time that a child comes across the arts so we need to present a variety of excellent artistic works that deliver creative and fulfilling experiences for all,” says artistic director Toni Attard.
Żigużajg Festival prides itself on a programme which features participating artists of a very high calibre, and who are well-known for a number of productions both locally as well as internationally. Each year’s programme is put together with great attention given to delivery, genre, relevance to age groups and, above all, excellence.
The festival is in fact the result of a thorough year-long process of commissioning, with artists taking part in the festival pitching and discussing ideas and stories together. The result is a programme which is intelligent and artistically rich, providing moments which will hopefully stay with the children and perhaps even contribute to a lifelong engagement with the arts.
ŻiguŻajg is produced by St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity with the support of Fondazzjoni Ċelebrazzjonijiet Nazzjonali and the Government of Malta.
Sponsors are the Mackintosh Foundation, MSV Life, the German Embassy and the Valletta 2018 Foundation as well as the Austrian Embassy, Malta Airport Shopping, Actavis and Pampers.
Tickets are out now on www.ziguzajg.org. All tickets for the school programme are free of charge; tickets for the public shows are €2 each.