Teatru Marta Kwitt has been in existence for five years, since it
was conceived in 1996. The three performers, Romina Cachia, Daniela Vella
and Albert Gatt, work under the direction of Immanuel Mifsud. Two new
members, Annemarie Spiteri and Ellsworth Camilleri, are currently
undergoing a formation process.
research process adopted by the group seeks to identify points of contact
between the different energies and the different backgrounds that these
four people share in the theatre space. Every person in the group has a
different background. Thus, it is a question of creating a union of
members first met early in 1996 when Albert, Romina and Daniela worked
under Mifsud’s direction for a whole academic year at the Drama
Unit Theatre Program, the school of dramatic arts of the Ministry of
Education of Malta.
their meeting, Immanuel Mifsud had worked with a number of other groups.
His most important work during the eighties was conducted with Ateatru,
an alternative theatre group that marked a turning point in the history of
contemporary group theatre in Malta. With Ateatru,
Mifsud directed some of his own plays (1985-86). Subsequently, he also
directed his own play Dil-Poezija
Ccensurata (1988) for Kampus, a University Arts Group, and a number of
plays by internationally renowned playwrights, such as Andorra
by Max Frisch (1988) and Accidental
Death of an Anarchist (1989) by Dario Fo, both for the rep group Fantasy
Factory. Following a brief period with Teatru
Vjola (“Purple Theatre”) in 1989, during which he directed a
contemporary version of Yerma,
by Federico Garcia Lorca, he founded the Research Theatre group Teatru
ta’ l-Ghomja (“Theatre of the Blind”) in 1990, which operated
under his direction until1994. Among other productions, this group
contributed A Kind of Alaska and
Silence by Harold Pinter in
1990. In the same year, O Roschen
Rot, based on the life of Gustav and Alma Mahler, was produced and
premiered at the first ever International Biennial Festival of
Mediterranean Group Theatre in Malta. Teatru
ta’ L-Ghomja also produced Il-Jien
u lil Hinn Minnu (“The Ego and its Beyond”; 1992), based on the
eponymous poetical work of the Romantic poet Dun Karm, also performed at
the second edition of the Biennial Festival, and Mejju
(“May”; 1992), which was performed at the annual arts festival at
the University of Malta, Evenings on Campus.
Mifsud had also become involved in various political activities, as a
result of which he authored and produced Pupi
(“Dolls”; 1992) for the leftist education lobby group
Movement for a Humane Education. Pupi
was also performed on the streets and outside the Office of the Prime
Minister in the nation’s capital, Valletta, as part of a protest by the
alternative political party Alternattiva
Demokratika, in protest against certain changes made to the electoral
system in the country.
he met Romina Cachia, Albert Gatt and Daniela Vella at the Academy of
Dramatic Arts of the Ministry for Education (Malta).
Marta Kwitt was formed later that year. Prior to this
meeting, Daniela Vella had attended the program at the Academy for two
years, as had Romina Cachia and Albert Gatt. Daniela had also worked in
theatre animation for Fabbrika
Fantastika (“Fantasy Factory”) for three years. All three
performers participated in a puppet theatre festival held in Lingen,
Germany, in 1996. Albert Gatt also became involved, for a short period of
time, with a semi-professional company, MADC, with which he played the
part of Lennox in their 1996 production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
Both Daniela and Romina had also worked with Immanuel Mifsud on a side
production at the University of Malta Junior College, where they performed
a highly adapted version of Alfred Sant’s Gheja
(“Exhaustion”; 1996), subsequently reworked and performed as Il-5:
La Toqtolx (“Fifth Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Kill”) at a private
viewing later in 1997.
performers left the academy in 1996, after which Romina and Daniela
participated in a seminar for actor training with Groups
for Human Encounter (Malta), which was also attended by Mifsud. The
formation of Marta Kwitt in 1997
led to a number of workshops and seminars being organised by the group,
among which was a special seminar held in 1997 for people involved in the
plastic and graphic arts, who responded to the physical work
demonstrations of the performers through their painting. The seminar was
held as part of the research being undertaken for the first performance of
Marta Kwitt, Mistoqsijiet
lill-Qamar (“Questions to the Moon”; 1997). In this performance,
physical work was given precedence over text and plot, the text itself
being in Spanish (a language which is not spoken by any of the group
members), drawing upon the work of Federico Garcia Lorca. The paintings
produced during the seminar were exhibited during the performance.
both the performers and the director had participated in a number of other
seminars outside the group; in particular, a training seminar with Ingemar
Lindh entitled The History of Actor
Training in 1997 and other workshops organised in Malta by such
companies as Teatro S’Arza
(Sardinia), Caboodle (London)
and Cheek by Jowl (London).
1997 and July 1998, Marta Kwitt
organised pedagogical seminars for the public, an activity which, since
the formation of the group in 1997, has become a regular feature of its
outreach towards the audience.
Other seminars, conducted regularly during a performance run, are organised so as to give the public some insight into the long process of research that underlies a performance.
1998 saw Romina and Daniela
participate in a voice workshop conducted by William Weiss, entitled Mobile
Voice, while Romina participated in a course entitled Bodies
and Time, held in Sofia, Bulgaria by the Summer Academy of Performing
Arts. She was subsequently selected to participate in a second symposium
in Bulgaria held in 1999 and conducted by the Butoh performer Masaki
Romina and Daniela participated in the International
School of Theatre Anthropology (ISTA), organised by Odin Teatret in 1998 in Bologna, Italy. Daniela Vella was also a
participant in the Aegee Summer
University course on Scenic Arts
and Intercultural Communication in Barcelona in the Summer of 1999.
From August, 2000 to January, 2001, while on a traineeship, Daniela was
training on contemporary conmtact dance with a dance group in St.
1999, Albert Gatt has also been training Southern Chinese Martial Arts
(Shaolin Kung Fu).
various styles and techniques to which the performers are exposed during
these training experiences are considered a part of their holistic
training and inevitably find their articulation in the work produced by Teatru Marta Kwitt.
In 1998 Marta
Kwitt conceived a project entitled Ilma
(“Water”), which consisted of a symphony of three (physical)
movements, each performed by a solo performer.
Under Mifsud’s direction,
Ilma was premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in the summer of 1999,
and subsequently performed as part of the annual National Victory Day
celebrations at the Presidential Palace in Valletta on September 8, 1999.
It has since been performed in October of the same year at the Centre of
the Mediterranean Institute Theatre Program (MITP) in Valletta.
All the members of the group have a university education. Immanuel Mifsud has a background in Education and Pedagogy in which he holds a MA degree. He teaches at the University of Malta Junior College, where he also conducts theatre pedagogy workshops and performances, and is an occasional lecturer in Theatre Pedagogy at the University of Malta. Romina Cachia and Daniela Vella both majored in Theatre Studies and Communications, while Albert Gatt read for a degree in Psychology and Linguistics, and had Theatre Studies as an elective area.
Mifsud’s involvement in Theatre Pedagogy has resulted in his co-organising the first ever national conference on Maltese Theatre (1994) held by the Institute for Mediterranean Studies, at the University of Malta, which has since become an annual event. He is also the co-editor of the volume Il-Kitba Teatrali F’Malta: Hemm xi Krizi? (“Play Writing in Malta: The Crisis?), which consists of the Proceedings of a conference of the same name held in 1996.
other things, Mifsud has also participated in the conference La
Violenza nel Teatro Classico (“Violence in Classical Theatre)
organised by the Istituto del Dramma
Antico in Sicily, in 1996. During that same year, he directed a short
video production on the myth of Calypso, launched during the conference Ritual
and Sacred Theatre Sites.
He was also a participant in a conference entitled Multiple Identities in Contemporary Literature and Theatre, held in Todtmoos, Germany, where he contributed with a lecture on the research of Marta Kwitt and directed a very free adaptation of David Mamet’s Oleanna.