Sean Buhagiar: ‘Time flies. Fast. So, love’

Creative producer and theatre-maker Sean Buhagiar tells all in our Q&A

Sean Buhagiar
Sean Buhagiar

The creative producer and theatre-maker is current artistic director of Teatru Malta, the national theatre company of Malta, and the youngest such national director in the EU. The productions he directed or produced have garnered 15 National Arts Awards nominations in the last three years. Besides theatre, Sean is actively involved in festival production, film, and television.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

Say “Bongu, bongu, bongu” to Cikka, my daughter whose foot is usually on my face by then. She is now the reason I wake up in the morning. Literally, I’m not trying to be romantic.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

When I was young, my father used to tell me “Bejn it-tajjeb u l-hazin ma hemm xejn.” At first I thought it was nonsensical. It took me a lot of time to grasp. But when you realise how it is true, it makes you take responsibility for your choices. Little ones, and big ones.

What do you never leave the house without?

Shoes, I guess. I seriously love shoes.

Pick three words that describe yourself

Creative. Preposterous. Nerd.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

Seven years of marriage. I was also proud to be the first artistic director of the national theatre company at a young age. I’m very grateful and honoured for that.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

It’s somewhere between Bon Jovi, Jean Claude Van Damme and Jerry Calà.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Time flies. Fast. So, love.

Property and cars aside what’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?


What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

Girls are generally better than boys.

Who’s your inspiration?

I’m lucky to be inspired very easily. I admire a lot of sport athletes who spend some much of their life perfecting their sport. When it comes to work, I’m inspired by too many artists to mention.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Finding out who I want to become when I grow up. Still trying.

If you were neither an artistic director nor creative producer what would you be doing?      


Do you believe in God?

No. At least not in a bearded cis-hetero-patriarchal white old man who’s fine with the status quo and lives in the sky. I believe in something I can’t understand. I do believe in some form of secular morality though.

If you could have dinner with any person, dead or alive, who would it be?

Hmm. A boy’s night out with Nietzsche, Plato, Aristotle, Marx and Kant at a bar where Battiato would be playing and Robin Williams serving drinks would be nice. I don’t speak good German, nor Greek though. So, I’ll stick to dinner with Audrey Hepburn, in Paris obviously. Paris is always a good idea.

What’s your worst habit?

Wine is not really a bad habit, right? Going to bed late.

What are you like when you’re drunk?


Who would you have play you in a film?

Can they be dead? Marlon Brando. If not, Vincent Cassel or Adrien Brody. They must have the nose for it.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Pseudo-intellectuals, and sleaze.

What music would you have played at your funeral?

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Second Movement.

What is your most treasured material possession?

My wardrobe, I think.

What is your earliest memory?

I think its images of this red art-deco bathroom we had in our first house. On a darker note, I vaguely remember knowing my mother gave birth to my dead brother. I have this image of her with a baby in silhouette which I can never forget. I don’t know where it came from though.

When did you last cry, and why?

Most blatantly, when I saw Cikka for the first time.

Who would you most like to meet?

Very difficult question. Dinner with Gal Gadot, a countryside walks with Jacinta Arden, chess with Barack Obama, watch a play with Ivo Van Hove, watch a film with Quentin Tarantino. I could continue.

What’s your favourite food?

That is a very unfair question for a buongustaio. I don’t have a favourite, it’s boring to have a favourite. If it’s my last meal, it would be fried rabbit – for nostalgic reasons too though.      

Who’s your favourite person on social media right now?

Ron Briffa. He’s such an influencer. I’m joking. I’d say Stanley Tucci. But I also have a soft spot for Dwayne Johnson; me and my brother were into wresting when we were young.

If you could travel in time, where would you go?

Once? It’s a tough battle between the early 1500s strolling around Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo in Florence during the Renaissance and Paris in the 1920s, mingling with the lost generation; where the twentieth century was, as Stein put it.

What book are you reading right now?

‘The Master and Margarita’, Bulgakov.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

Temporal manipulations would be nice. I would finally be on time.

What’s one thing you want to do before you die?

Direct a full-length film; then on wrap day catch a plane and go backpacking with Cikka and Marilu, my wife.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

I listen to a lot of different genres of music. From classical to folk to rock. I kind of judge my days; for example, today might be an Elton John day, but tomorrow might be a Tom Waits kind of day.

In the shower or when you’re working out, what do you sing/listen to?

They’re very different. Working out I listen to good old rock, from Guns ‘n’ Roses to Queen to Maneskin. Then – in the context of the previous question – before my shower, is when I decide what kind of day it is.