It’s all kid’s play: Antigone, Macbeth and Ebejer’s Ġaħan ta’ Binġemma at Trikki Trakki

Antonella Axisa directed the annual youth theatre festival Trikki Trakki’s fifth edition

Teatru Malta’s annual children’s and youth theatre festival Trikki Trakki came to an end last weekend after months of preparation ahead of its final performances on Saturday 26 March.

Led by festival director Antonella Axisa, the festival saw a total of six participating schools from across Malta and Gozo come together for the Festival’s first proper return to the theatre since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out.

Now in its fifth consecutive year, Trikki Trakki offers children the opportunity to engage with working professionals from the theatre community, to gain first-hand experience and knowledge on how things are really done on stage and behind it.

“Whether it’s prop and costume making, makeup, set design or acting, all participating schools got the opportunity to dabble in it hands-on,” Axisa said. “First through a series of workshops and eventually through further practical training during the festival’s production week at M Space.”

Leading a top-notch team of creatives, Axisa strongly believes in the power of this festival. “Trikki Trakki aims to give a taste to its participants of what theatre is all about, warts and all, hoping to instil a spark of love for the theatre in these students, and through the industry professionals that they work with, show them that theatre can also be a career choice, albeit not an easy one.

“In this festival we ask for a huge commitment from the schools and the kids, but we do this consciously, because this reflects the complete dedication that’s necessary to work in the arts, survive, and keep doing it for years. Those who are still working as artists post-pandemic will testify to this.”

Teatru Malta’s Artistic Director Sean Buhagiar is equally enthusiastic about Trikki Trakki: “Thanks to this festival, the kids get to play, experiment and make mistakes while exploring the endless possibilities of their imagination.

“But they also get to realise how many opportunities there are aside from sitting in front of the TV or staring down at their mobile screen. They learn to take notice. They learn that entertainment can be challenging. I strongly believe that Trikki Trakki should never end. I can’t wait for it to get to 50 years. And then to 500 years.”

Directors Malcolm Galea, Nicole Cuschieri, Joseph Galea, Jacob Piccinino, Isabelle Gatt and Lara Agius did an exceptional job at working with the students from St Albert the Great College Valletta, St Ignatius College Middle School Tal-Ħandaq, Malta Visual and Performing Arts School Ħamrun, Bishop’s Conservatory Secondary School Gozo, St Theresa College Middle School Birkirkara, and San Ġorġ Preca Middle School Blata l-Bajda.

Every year the directors are tasked with adapting existing theatre works, with the aim of familiarising the students with classical scripts and broadening their theatre knowledge, while working on fun and age-appropriate adaptations.

For this year’s edition, the directors chose to work on texts such as Sophocles’ “Antigone”, Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” and Francis Ebejer’s “Ġaħan ta’ Binġemma”, all of which were renamed to suit the nature of the festival.

As per festival ethos, the props and costume team made up of Isabel Warrington and Maxime Durand managed to create everything from reused or recycled items: all costumes and props were either hired, adapted from existing clothes, bought from charity shops and adapted, brought by the children, made from discarded items and stuff that would normally be thrown in the recycling bag.

They repurposed the most obscure things: braids from laddered tights, old socks and tops were weaved into necklaces, egg cartons became welding visors, takeaway cutlery made into crowns, pool noodles became nuggets, plastic bottles transformed into lettuce leaves, old curtains were sewn into dresses.

“This was an essential element in the children’s education process to make them aware of the impact that waste has on the planet, but also to encourage them to explore ways of pushing the boundaries of their creativity,” Axisa said.

Emphasising the educational process of the festival, makeup artist Krista Paris taught the participants how to put on their own stage make-up, challenging them to experiment and ultimately nail their own make-up looks for their shows.