ŻiguŻajg returns for its fifth edition

This year’s edition of the annual arts festival for children and young people will tackle weighty themes such as anorexia, immigration and the effects of technology on the young

Il-Volpi by Trevor Zahra • Photo by Elisa von Brockdorff
Il-Volpi by Trevor Zahra • Photo by Elisa von Brockdorff

From a wild circus show to a play about anorexia, from music celebrations to intimate pieces and from serious themes such as immigration and the effects of modern technology to whimsical shows for the very young, ŻiguŻajg International Arts Festival for Children & Young People is back for a fifth edition that promises to be as imaginative, provocative and tremendously fun as ever.

“As a mother, I feel that ŻiguŻajg has consistently filled a gap in the cultural sector by focusing exclusively on children. I appeal to schools and parents to attend this festival to encourage our young ones to interact with creativity and culture from a young age”, said Michelle Muscat at this morning’s launch of the festival programme at St James Cavalier. Culture Minister Owen Bonnici and Education Minister Evarist Bartolo were also present at the launch. Żigużajg is held under the patronage of the Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Michelle Muscat.

“Around 16,000 children and parents are expected to attend the 29 performances from 12 different countries which will be held as part of this year‘s festival. Running between 16-22 November, the festival celebrates diversity and is the only one in Malta which puts children and young people firmly at its centre,” said Culture Minister Owen Bonnici.

Education Minister Evarist Bartolo added that: “The arts open up a freer space where young people can think, imagine and question, outside the formality of the educational system.”

Artists from Commonwealth countries such as the UK, Canada and Australia will team up with some of the best Maltese artists to create a programme which includes theatre, shadow puppetry, music, circus acts, street parades and dance. For seven days, 150 creatives will create a dreamlike world where gigantic characters fly over crowds, sounds create colours and artists can breathe life into a lump of clay.

With topics tackled including disability, diversity, immigration, social media and loneliness amongst others, the festival encourages children to engage with serious issues rather than escape them. Such issues are tackled with great intelligence and sensitivity by top artists who often work alongside social professionals to ensure productions that reflect the complexities of a child’s world.

Locally, ŻiguŻajg is known for its proactive commissioning approach which, in the past few years, has helped foster a repertoire for children which remains even after the week-long festival is over. This year, in fact, part of this repertoire is being shown during the first edition of the Malta Showcase, a body of work which has been selected for its high quality and which is available to tour internationally.

ŻiguŻajg director Toni Attard said: “Placing the arts at the heart from a young age helps children to access this creative freedom early, to think about the world and to help them make sense of their own and other’s experiences. Ultimately, we are very aware of the responsibility of ensuring excellence in these experiences - young audiences deserve nothing but the best.”

Tickets are out now; all tickets for the morning school programme are free; tickets for the public shows are €2 each. For more information, log on to www.ziguzajg.org, https://www.facebook.com/ziguzajg

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