Philippa Cassar | 'It’s okay not to fit into a pre-existing box'

Director, musician and singer-songwriter Philippa Cassar tells all in our Q&A

Philippa Cassar with her sister Bettina Muchmore (bottom)
Philippa Cassar with her sister Bettina Muchmore (bottom)

Philippa Cassar is half of sister-duo The New Victorians with Bettina Muchmore. The duo have a keen interest in the dramaturgical potential of original electronic music in theatre, and were the first all-female Maltese company to take an original double-bill to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, with their shows MARA and Rave & Behave at the Pleasance in August 2019. Philippa is currently directing, co-writing and performing in TINGO: The Tuneless Bird, a ŻiguŻajg commission tackling the themes of Migration, Social Inclusion and Integration

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

Use the loo and brush my teeth

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Do things even when your afraid.

What do you never leave the house without?

My phone (boo, boring! But true…)

Pick three words that describe yourself.

Dreamer. Passionate. Tenacious.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

Taking our original show MARA to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this summer.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Salted crisps.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

It’s okay not to fit into a pre-existing box. If no fixed career path/artistic genre/job description fits you perfectly, make your own.

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

Instruments and music gear.

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

That being rubbish in Chemistry is really okay.

Who’s your inspiration?

Lots of people! Sally Cookson, Marianne Elliott, Hofesh Shechter, Damien Jalet, Lin Manuel Miranda, Stephen Sondheim, Pope Francis, Corrie Ten Boom, in no particular order.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Directing and Co-Creating “VII (Sette)”, a Teatru Malta commission celebrating the centenary of the Sette Giugno riots last June. Writing a trilingual piece, staged on a giant slide, with an international cast at Fort St Elmo was definitely the biggest challenge to date.

If you weren’t a songwriter/musician what would you be doing?

I’d open my own cafe!

Do you believe in God?

Sure do!

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

Jesus.

What’s your worst habit?

Overeating till I’m painfully bloated.

What are you like when you’re drunk?

Boring! I get very sleepy.

Who would you have play you in a film?

Phoebe Waller-Bridge even though she doesn’t look or sound anything like me!

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Inefficiency.

What music would you have played at your funeral?

“Close Your Eyes” from our MARA show perhaps.

What is your most treasured material possession?

My guitar (named Pupa).

What is your earliest memory?

A family Kamarina trip.

When did you last cry, and why?

Last week! Mostly overwhelmed/exhausted tears.

Who would you most like to meet?

Oh, many people! Too hard to narrow it down!

What’s your favourite food?

Mood-depending. Today... pie

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

Lewis Capaldi.

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

Forward to meet future mini-Victorians and their kids’ kids.

What book are you reading right now?

I just started The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton.

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

FLYINGGG... (and avoiding all the traffic).

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

Make a piece of theatre/film about my legendary 92-year-old Nanna Mary.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

YEBBA, Freya Ridings, Dodie, Lauv.

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

A mood-dependant playlist. Motivation cardio tracks, chill lo-fi stuff, pop, podcasts. Never really the same.

TINGO will be shown at the ZiguZajg International Arts Festival for Children and Young People between 15- 24 November

More in Q & A