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From Brussels to Valletta: Maltese writer’s stories in melting pot of art

Short stories reimagined in this new project by Loranne Vella

A series of interdisciplinary events that were first seen during Brussels’ famed Rue de Flandre’s annual street market is now coming to Valletta, bringing together eight Maltese and foreign artists in a re-interpretation of a collection of short stories by Maltese writer Loranne Vella.

Verbi – The event is a fusion of words, photography and performance art.Verbi – The event is a fusion of words, photography and performance art.

Verbi: mill-bieb ‘il ġewwa re-imagines the short stories by having the artists use their existing repertoire as the point of departure, collaborating through the spheres of literature, drama, dance, installation art, photography, film, light design, music and sound design to create a new and immersive experience for the audience.

Ms Vella, who is also artistic director for the project, says that one of the biggest challenges of turning the concept into reality was deciding on an approach to create a performance working with artists from outside the world of theatre.

“I needed to convince the artists to step out of their comfort zones, thereby blurring the lines between the different art forms,” she says.

Everything came together in June, during the artists’ first residency, which also posed challenges given that the artists resided in different countries.

“We did not have the luxury of a fixed rehearsal space and time to meet on a regular basis. There were, instead, months of preparations, discussions, meetings with the individual artists and the exchange of long emails prior to the two residencies in Belgium, in June and October, and a photography workshop in Malta last July.”

The result of this long process is what Ms Vella describes as both an installation and a performance, which will both take place in a contemporary exhibition space in Valletta. Viewers are invited to walk around the different rooms in any way they feel like, and explore what’s inside each room at their own pace.

“There is something happening in each room, and viewers can decide to spend 30 minutes in one room and 30 seconds in another,” the artist says. “They can make an evening out of it and be the first to arrive and the last to leave.”

The participating artists, who each form part of the Barumbara Collective, are Loranne Vella, writer, performer, artistic director and coordinator for Verbi; performer Sephora Gauci; Kamini Daems, video artist, photographer and musician; sound designer Danjeli Schembri; performer Francesca Saraullo; Aurore Morillon, video artist, photographer and performer; photographer Zvezdan Reljić and light designer Eleanor Bryce.

Later this month, the Collective will be organising workshops with students from the Digital Arts Programme and the Theatre Studies Programme at the University of Malta to share the creative and collaborative processes leading toward the creation of new content to be included in the final performance. 

The installation is open for free to the public between Tuesday and Saturday at the Valletta Contemporary art gallery, while the performance takes place on Friday, Saturday and next Sunday. The project is supported by Malta Arts Fund – project support grant by Arts Council Malta.

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