Back
Register for SMS Alerts
or enter your details manually below...
First Name:
Last Name:
Email:
Password:
Hometown:
Birthday:
Sorry, we couldn't find that email.
Existing users
Email
Password
Sorry, we couldn't find those details.
Enter Email
Sorry, we couldn't find that email.

Finding your voice, away from home | Antonella Sgobbo & Malcolm Galea

Teodor Reljic speaks to tutors Antonella Sgobbo and Malcolm Galea of the RIMA Creative Writing and Storytelling Workshop about why they found this creative writing exercise to be empowering and useful

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic
31 May 2017, 9:44am
The RIMA Creative Writing and Storytelling Workshop encouraged migrants from various countries who live in Malta to process their experiences both factually and creatively - Photo by Virginia Monteforte
The RIMA Creative Writing and Storytelling Workshop encouraged migrants from various countries who live in Malta to process their experiences both factually and creatively - Photo by Virginia Monteforte
What drew you to the RIMA project, and how would you say its dynamics relate to similar work you may have done in the past?  

Antonella Sgobbo: I have dedicated my professional life to culture and real community needs with the aim of creating innovative applications and informal education methods through the exploration of art, as an important catalyst for social change in different contests of co-ethnic communities, or multicultural groups of displaced and marginalised people. I started my career focusing on health, education and the promotion of socio-economic empowerment in rural communities and in the compounds, in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

And even there I used to approach the community through activities like theatre, storytelling, arts and crafts workshops... basically, anything that would help facilitate access to education and contributing to the affirmation of cultural rights, the preservation of heritage, and towards personal sustainable development and empowerment. 

Antonella Sgobbo (far right) - Photo by Virginia Monteforte
Antonella Sgobbo (far right) - Photo by Virginia Monteforte
Back in Europe, I worked for four years in the juvenile and adults’ detention centres of Bologna. I was part of a team of artists and performers and writers who offered high quality  performing and visual arts training and a space in which youth offenders could act, create and express themselves freely and equally, imagine new realities and challenge existing social and cultural barriers. 

Breaking the cycle of cultural isolation, the written and unwritten rules of the prison and its own ethical structures was a challenge, because we have had to rethink their certainties and renew their approaches in order to make the rules of the craft – rigour, discipline, solidarity and responsibility – function in prison as they do elsewhere. Apart from the very peculiar space, any other creative workshop – RIMA included – has been extremely powerful because people gained always something out of it, and this is clearly visible in the end.  

Malcolm Galea: I had been to a couple of RIMA events before and was greatly interested in their work. In the past I’ve been involved in a number of community projects that helped people develop their stories. A few years ago we had worked with a group of Somali refugees through JRS to compile their stories into a play that toured primary schools. Currently I’m also working on a project called Get Your Act Together, where Malta-based writers are being mentored to write plays that will tour regional theatres. Apart from the creative aspect, I was also interested in the prospect of meeting and working with new people.

Malcolm Galea - Photo by Virginia Monteforte
Malcolm Galea - Photo by Virginia Monteforte
What was the experience of applying the lessons of creative writing to a workshop that is focused on migration like? 

Sgobbo: I believe migration is one of the most potent subjects of literature. Behind the superficial facts  of all the destinations of the journey and the accompanying discoveries that dazzle us with their newness, there’s an even more significant splendour in the large sacrifices and the feelings of nostalgia for a return. In the storytelling workshop we trained  participants to use their personal story as an inspirational tool to create new stories, to preserve their personal cultural background as a sort of self-discovery and process of empowerment, and it will give food for thought for new stories.

In my opinion, this is extremely important because the person can resist an oppressive, narrow conception of learning and prescriptive schooling and using imagination to posit alternative realities. 

What were some of the memorable experiences and insights to emerge from the RIMA Creative writing workshops?

Emad Alahmad (centre) at the RIMA Creative Writing and Storytelling Workshop - Photo by Virginia Monteforte
Emad Alahmad (centre) at the RIMA Creative Writing and Storytelling Workshop - Photo by Virginia Monteforte
Galea: We heard stories from people from Libya, Syria, EU countries and even South America. There was a wide variety of emotions at play; mostly to do with homesickness, nostalgia, concern about not being accepted, and anxiety about the future. Veteran travellers who are away from home tend to see the world in a particular way so even though those attending came from a variety of countries and cultures, there was an easy kinship among them. Personally, I appreciated the opportunity to share in this experience and make some new and highly imaginative friends.

The RIMA Creative Writing and Storytelling Workshop, having taken place during the last weeks of April, encouraged an eclectic group of migrants to speak about their stories – giving them free reign to structure their narratives as factually or as fictionally as they would like. 

The RIMA Creative Writing and Storytelling Workshops formed part of the still-ongoing RIMA Project, supported by the Valletta 2018 Foundation. The final aim of the workshops is to create a short film based on one of the stories that emerged from the workshops, and which will be produced in collaboration with filmmakers Kenneth Scicluna and Dagmawi Ymer. 

The production will be open to participants willing to form part of the crew, as part of a competition which will be open from the beginning of June to the third week of July. 

To stay updated on this and other developments within RIMA, log on to www.rimaproject.org or follow ‘RIMA – Narrating this/continuity’ on Facebook.

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic is MaltaToday's culture editor and film critic. He joined t...
follow us on facebook