Update 2 | Mario Philip Azzopardi 'disappointed' over Buhagiar's departure from V18

Theatre director Sean Buhagiar quits Valletta 2018 Foundation following row with Mario Philip Azzopardi

Mario Philip Azzopardi (left) and Sean Buhagiar (right)
Mario Philip Azzopardi (left) and Sean Buhagiar (right)

Established theatre director Sean Buhagiar has resigned from the Valletta 2018 Foundation following last week’s row with executive producer Mario Philip Azzopardi.

Speaking to MaltaToday, Buhagiar said that it was with “deep regret” that he had to tender his resignation from the post of deputy artistic director within the V18 Foundation.

Buhagiar, who trained and studied the Arts, remains artistic director of Notte Bianca.

“My role in the Foundation has become untenable following the nature of the breakdown in the relationship with Azzopardi, a situation further jeopardised by his statements about me in the media,” Buhagiar said.

Contacted by Malta Today, Azzopardi said that he did not wish to say anything about the issue, except that he felt it was "highly sad and unfortunate" that things had turned out the way they did.

The Valletta 2018 Foundation said that although it had accepted Buhagiar's resignation from the role of deputy artistic director, "the resignation has nothing to do with the work Buhagiar was contracted to carry out with the Foundation."

In a statement, the foundation said that the resignation was due to an "unfortunate disagreement between Azzopardi and Buhagiar" related to a private production company they were both involved in. It added that the fpundation was willing to work with Buhagiar in the future.

Buhagiar last week quit the direction of Stagun Teatru Malti’s latest play after heated arguments Azzopardi. When contacted, sources had told MaltaToday that Azzopardi – who only attended the first full rehearsal of the show on Sunday, five days before opening night – threw several tantrums while kicking the set and shouting vulgarly.

Sources also claimed that Azzopardi had threatened to sue Buhagiar if he does not follow his orders, aggressively declaring that Buhagiar should “obey”.

Following media reports of the fight, Azzopardi issued a statement on how he had “helped develop” Buhagiar’s talent “promoting him to jobs he had never held before, including the production management of three movies when he had absolutely no experience”.

However, Buhagiar was not the first to quit the play: renowned set designer Adrian Mamo left the production after Azzopardi flared-up and ditched the set before it was completed.

Whilst thanking the V18 Foundation for their trust, Buhagiar refused to comment on Azzopardi’s current roles in the culture sector.

Azzopardi currently serves as the Artistic Director of the Valletta 2018 Foundation. He was the director of 'Courage to Vote' - a Labour Party campaign television advert which depicted a 'pepe' family fighting over their daughter's annoucement to vote for the Labour Party ahead of the 2013 general elections. However following backlash to the advert - which inspired a parody video by comedy group Lamp Stamp - a proposed second advert was never filmed.