Teatru Marta Kwitt

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.

The 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 difference.....

Theatrical Background

The group 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.

Before 1996

Prior to 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.

Meanwhile, 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.

Since 1996

In 1996, 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. 

The 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.

Meanwhile, 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).

In June 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 Iwana.

Both 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. Petersburg.

Since 1999, Albert Gatt has also been training Southern Chinese Martial Arts (Shaolin Kung Fu).

The 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.


Academic Background

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.

Among 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.

Għall-Ewwel Paġna


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