Zigi Zigi Zigi! - Oi Oi Oi! (Zigu! Zajg!)

A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged.  

~ G.K. Chesterton ~

Copyright © Diandra A. 2017
Starved a wee bit . . .  
 Copyright © Diandra A. 2017
But was all worth it! 
 Copyright © Diandra A. 2017
Took me a few good days last week to get physically rested. 
Still waking up at 5am-ish, but it'll pass. 
Had enough energy - thankfully! - to prepare for an audition, 
perform it in the weekend Copyright © Diandra A. 2017
and then hang out with my younger sibling.Copyright © Diandra A. 2017
A little history lesson; a few years ago, back in 2012 to be precise, I had heard from a classmate at Uni that assistants were needed for some arts festival for kids, new to my ears as the ZiguZajg Arts Festival. It intrigued me and I signed up to help for a few days during that edition. Copyright © Diandra A. 2017

The atmosphere and seeing kids interact with installations and shows made for them got me so hooked that nearly every year after that I pestered the head co-ordinator . . .
(*sheepish grin* sorry Daniel)
asking if they needed assistants that year. Copyright © Diandra A. 2017

The atmosphere was like bringing the playground to them; 
making it beyond their imaginings
in storytelling 
through the various artistic mediums; 
making greater imaginings reachable to savour. 
The artists of that edition 
(and - spoiler alert! - of this year) 
were telling kids 
that the playground is fun again, 
that to those 'funny people' in costumes, 
playing different characters,
telling stories in their own way,
through acting, dancing, performing out on the street,
the theatre and its space is the playground.

That inner hooked-ness 
(*sigh* )
(don't judge me please) 

for the festival and the whole package got me to attempt proposing a project idea earlier this year for this edition's festival, alongside Clare Azzopardi and Leanne Ellul. Copyright © Diandra A. 2017
It got politely rejected,
Copyright © Diandra A. 2017
 but within me as a director and writer 
it ingrained the appreciation
 to advance further as a working artist, 
the routine of creating within a deadline 
and the focus that comes with facing a deadline.

Truly working as an artist.

It then led me to venture once more to inquire- this time to another person involved - 
and was glad to hear that a call for assistants was just opened and in perfect timing! 
So naturally I wanted to get into the very thick of it and, 
when I got accepted and signed on to take most days but two, 
I saw a variety that would have made any theatre practitioner feel gladdened with.Copyright © Diandra A. 2017
Image result for ziguzajg 2017

Cheering on the inside to FINALLY place images on my blog again!
Here's hoping they show.
[N.B. No copyright infringement intended. All rights go to the photographers involved.]
[Insomma - you get it!]
 Copyright © Diandra A. 2017
Adone Theatre (France)

This was the first show I saw (and on the first day I sported the name tag and T-Shirt). There were some hiccups faced to enter the venue numerous times, as the guy behind the receptionist desk was being a 'little' uncooperative in opening the door for me to the main venue where this show was to be held. It had to take the festival co-ordinator and a security guard to put some sense into him.Copyright © Diandra A. 2017

Two performers presented to toddlers their innovative staging through music and a very flexible projector, with a tiny virtual character, playing alongside the human counterpart, venturing the various properties of water. The second human performer on the side played the musical backgrounds and intervals, created the sound effects through ordinary objects and sang in French. 

I particularly enjoyed how it was silent acting in a way, depending entirely on the ordinarily-made music, the interactions of the actors with each other, scenarios told based on expressions; the voiceovers made for the little virtual character in his encounters down the pipes and with his human counterpart, and who even got his own curtain call at the end. Copyright © Diandra A. 2017

Moveo Dance Company


Originally an open-air installation, it got moved to the British Legion Bar to avoid possible mishaps with the changing weather. 

It seemed many people who booked for this show with their kids imagined it to be about Greek gods and goddesses and mythology - which would have been an interesting concept to present as a performance for the festival. Though it wasn't. Younger audiences than the intended age came to watch, one even younger crowd I heard was not very impressed.

The two dancers showed promise and skill; how they manage to manipulate some of the props into their choreography, how the last-minute indoor setting seemed to work further for the performance to be more contained . . . the problem was the blasted full volume!

Every so often I had to cover my ears whenever a gradual high pitch was played in between, and I found out later on that the loud volume was intended.

The audiences I encountered and who came out afterwards praised the dancers for their talent, but the meaning was lost on them. It was pleasant though to see a group of girls imitating one of the dancers fainting and repeating it on each other.Copyright © Diandra A. 2017

The other time I was scheduled at British Legion, I offered to be the one to wait outside the door within the bar, to brave any latecomers' disappointments. That particular evening I found myself pleasantly watching a group of five guys, clearly Brits by their nearly varied dialects, playing a different kind of pool and I was so engrossed into their game that I reacted a few times at some successes and misses. Just watching the way they were interacting with each other as they played their game and their banter was enjoyable to me and I received a few friendly side reactions from the fifth guy who was sort of acting as referee and point-counter. Copyright © Diandra A. 2017

Pamela Kerr & Kostas Papamatthaiakis


I have a confession to make. 
Copyright © Diandra A. 2017
This performance became, and is in memory still, one of my few personal favourites - if not my first favourite throughout the festival. I even got to see it twice (thankfully)!

I befriended the dancers Pamela and Kostas and simply enjoyed 'serving' them where needed. Not that I didn't enjoy doing so for the other performers I was assigned to - anzi! I was all out there in socialising and noting what the participating companies and performers needed in this edition. Copyright © Diandra A. 2017

The thing was, it was more cordial; before seeing their performance I got to ask the 'Tag dancers' questions and learn on how their creative process is developed; shared some of my own approaches of using certain forms of choreography and vision in previous productions I did and directed (including presenting one small choreography with my hands from within a particular scene in Adam u Eva back in Notte Bianca 2016).  

Stated being a method actor and 'text-based', I had chosen to play around and incorporate with such choreography to season the scene and poetic text in Guze Aquilina's play more, and I really appreciated how, when I demonstrated the hand choreography with the lines from that scene, Kostas understood and pointed right out the subtext behind it, before I even highlighted it. (Brávo!)
 Copyright © Diandra A. 2017
A conversation among artists from different backgrounds, which was another thing I appreciated the most within the festival adventure if you will: bonding a community and comradeship.Copyright © Diandra A. 2017


I enjoyed greatly the contrasts of their personas as they told their story of boy-meets-girl,
their synchronised timing, especially in their 'date scenes' - those really cracked me up, 
the musical selection tracks which were constantly asked for their names by audience members. 
That vibrant Shalom track and the one right after it still reverberates in my memory.
Copyright © Diandra A. 2017
Curiously enough, I had interpreted the ending slightly different the first time 
before I could fully enjoy it in an evening performance/shift.
 Copyright © Diandra A. 2017
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Copyright © Diandra A. 2017
When she, Pamela's character, brings out the scissors out of her wooden box,
as the voiceover was heard closing with "But . . . to touch can be to give life",  
and she cut the elastic string situated over her head, 
prompting the blackout, Copyright © Diandra A. 2017

I had interpreted that to mean that she forgave him and removed the 'wall' that had barred him away from her and was interacted as such a wall a few times.

Copyright © Diandra A. 2017
But it turns out, 
she was actually cutting from him for good,
which made a little more sense 
as to the effect the string's sound made 
at being cut.Copyright © Diandra A. 2017

- - -

It certainly switched on the creative ideas department 
in my head, 
and a particular production idea 
and plot 
which is growing 
and nagging
as I watched further performances, 
even at this moment  . . .

More on that in a later post, God-willing - moving on!
Copyright © Diandra A. 2017
- - -

Arch 8


Another foreign company, from the Netherlands (I had to look up which country the flag belonged to online, guilty as charged), though the performers are from different nationalities.Copyright © Diandra A. 2017

The speciality of the four performers - and a secret fifth -  was dance promenade. (I think there was another particular term for it but can't remember it off the bat, it's a new word to my ear to be able to register it.) 

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One of the festival assistants walked with a massive boombox playing music, strapped around his shoulders, leading as to the route the performers were going, doing their thing.
Copyright © Diandra A. 2017

Well . . . I say 'thing', but in truth it was beyond simple terms; all improvised and unexpected. A couple of them interacted with some of the audience, including me I can gleefully say, going in circles, climbing up walls and windows, intertwining with each other. Copyright © Diandra A. 2017

One funny situation I faced was having ended up trapped by the four performers in their routine of rounding up some other audience members - my friend Jacob and his co-star Heloise to be precise -  as the four of them remained holding hands.Copyright © Diandra A. 2017

 They even used the facade of the Old Royal Theatre (Teatru Rjal in Maltese) in Republic Street as their performance space - which then led to something even more intriguing! The performers weaved around making people hold each others' hands and in less than a minute there was a massive, long, human chain that wove around the street and other streets, popping in and out of shop doorways and stepping over some of the performers that made themselves interestingly convenient to lay on the ground in the way of the human chain.Copyright © Diandra A. 2017

Heading down a smaller road, close to the finale, I noticed that the fifth one dressed up as a tourist ended up lying on the floor in front of a bar. At first I thought he was meant to be found that way, that he was pretending to have passed out from too much drink ( . . . at a closed bar). But the next day I had found out that they had used a coconut in their routine throughout, including bonking and splitting the coconut on the fifth guy's head. 

I kept wracking my brain for a few days, wondering how did I manage to miss that. (I think I can be alittle forgiven as I wasn't exactly in the very front of the crowd when he got bonked.) But it was exhilirating, another of my favourites. I was grinning and laughing throughout!Copyright © Diandra A. 2017

Land of the Big Word Factory

Theatre Anon


I had known before of this French kids story  in passing, when I was meeting up with some companions from scriptwriting course and perused the Maltese version of the story adapted by Clare Azzopardi, which she happened to have on her.  

So when I recognised it to be the same one done by these Maltese actors and musician, I was really pleased that it became part of the ZiguZajg programme this year.


Copyright © Diandra A. 2017
I watched it alongside school kids on their outing, who were very eager to interact with one of the actors, asking for 'silly words', which was a 'boring' word etc. With those kids that day though, once the actor got them started, it was harder for them to stop each time!

Copyright © Diandra A. 2017

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Their puppetry performance combined with simple tech and an ever changing backdrop was fascinating to the eye. The physical white backdrop, seamlessly made of multiple doors and windows, was well designed to be flexible for what was needed in every scene. 
 Copyright © Diandra A. 2017
The Phileas and Cibelle puppets were so lovable and the actors managed to convey their mannerisms very authentically. It was equally clever to have scenes where an actor stepping out of the backdrop interracted with a puppet projected alongside.

The children watching had expressed some concerns after the show for the actors' eating safety, as they thought it to be off and unhealthy for them to eat 'real' paper in order for them to speak. Copyright © Diandra A. 2017

That's rice paper for you.
Copyright © Diandra A. 2017

Circo Zoe


Circuses aren't unfamiliar to me. 

Back in Summer 2013 I took part as an extra of sorts during CirkuMalta's DariRari in the Malta Arts Festival and watched the performers work during late night rehearsals. The same circus team from that performance then came to Malta again for last year's ZiguZajg. Copyright © Diandra A. 2017

To be clear, the circus performance of this year are NOT that same team, but from the Italian Circo Zoe. They had two different performances, and this one was pirate-themed. They seemed to have had their own DJ travelling with them, as there were turntables and other DJ equipment playing music at the entrance.Copyright © Diandra A. 2017


Each performer's 'pirate' character complimented and reflected their personal circus talents. They also provided their own music, accompanying say an acrobat with a violin or accordian number. Their individual capabilities didn't cease to surprise me every time. You could see how focused they were and yet still got everyone gasping at them pulling it off. Copyright © Diandra A. 2017

The kids certainly laughed their heads off at one of the performers telling off his comrades in a kiddish scream, as he tried to instruct them how to fix up the pole for the following performance number in their repertoire.Copyright © Diandra A. 2017

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Despite how physically depleted I was feeling close to the end of that week, their show sure got me hooked on every minute. Copyright © Diandra A. 2017

Ernesto and Bianca
Jacob Piccinino & Heloise Suire


This performance wasn't on any of my shifts, yet hoped everyday to be able to go watch my friend Jacob in his debut of the festival, and to take the opportunity to do so if the chance came my way . . .Copyright © Diandra A. 2017

Therefore he was surprised when he opened the door of Palazzo de la Salle from the inside and found me standing there with Chrome book and pamphlets. Copyright © Diandra A. 2017

I was able to find a loophole of sorts and asked Andre' the festival co-ordinator (and my temporary ''boss'') for possible switches in that day's events. And thankfully it paid off; not to sound big-headed but after that massively active week, it was well-deserved in a way - and I thank my 'boss' as he did me a favour, after I had been at a particular installation most of the festival . . .

The stories and people 
I've encountered there . . .

*snigger* -


Ernesto and Bianca stood out differently in style; a clowning performance. The male lead has an obsessive behaviour, comical routines all round and yet authentic in how it reflects those who behave this way in real life: rubbing the door knob clean before going out, putting the key in and out of his pocket as he counts up to seven or fourteen to be absolutely sure he's not locking himself out, placing a cloth over his keyboard at 'work' and rapidly hand-chopping with loud succession over the keyboard to clean it . . . to then quietly adjust his spelling mistakes on his computer. 

Then he encounters the love of his life, Bianca from next door adoring her plant from her balcony, as she waters each leaf that she names - Lulu, Kiki, Fabrizio . . .

Thus he's inspired and determined to overcome his 'disorder' to make himself worthy of her.


The plot, characters and overall story was adorable!!!

Quite clever how their invented language was a jumble up of other familiar languages, dashes of Spanish, French, Italian, English and Maltese. 'Minion language' if I can coin the phrase as such. Copyright © Diandra A. 2017

You could recognise some of the languages combined in their sentences and still understand the scene. With a little vocal cameo from Arthur Dumas as Bianca's abusive husband. Most of the action and comedy naturally then did the talking. Copyright © Diandra A. 2017

The adults loved it as much as the children, especially when the fourth wall was broken and Ernesto enthusiastically acknowledged them at being reminded to get the 'tea!' and 'gallettini!'. The kids savoured it in telling the characters what to do, and one kid had such a sharp ear for Bianca's signature jazz melody that when Ernesto came to sing it to her, the kid ended up finishing off that jazz melody for him by one note which got fits of laughter.Copyright © Diandra A. 2017

And I closed off my final shift 
as assistant 
with that show 
and a tired smile. 

Though the festival had one more day for me to see as an audience member . . . 

Part 2 Coming Shortly!

Copyright © Diandra A. 2017

Copyright © Diandra A. 2017