New piece in Maltese for young adults
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New piece in Maltese for young adults

Director Bettina Paris

Director Bettina Paris

With an original script by Anton Saliba, Ninu tells the story of a Maltese teen dealing with all the issues life throws at today’s generation. Adam Brimmer interviews director Bettina Paris.

What attracted you to this script?

I was immediately interested in the concept for Ninu when Anton Saliba, the writer of the piece, approached me with the initial idea.

The fact that the script is a new piece in Maltese, written especially for young adults, and is also Anton’s debut as a playwright, are only two of the reasons why I was very eager to take on the role of directing.

The script also tackles important issues such as identity, social class, gender roles and mental health (specifically anxiety) within our society – and the effect that such issues have on us as individuals – through the lens of an adolescent boy in Malta. 

I strongly feel that a conversation surrounding the above is really needing to be had, and it needs to be between people of all generations and backgrounds. And what could be a better way to ignite this flame, than through the medium of innovative, fresh and exciting new work.  

There were a lot of contributing factors to my enthusiasm – from the witty and playful writing to the research and development that took place during the last year; the sensitivity with which the work was explored; the enthusiastic and passionate cast and crew… all are reasons why I wanted so much to be part of this collaboration. 

As someone who saw globalisation and digitalisation change the world, what were your reactions to Anton’s narrative? Do you feel that there’s a distinct need to address these topics with a younger generation?

I feel that Ninu’s narrative is one we can all relate to, be it young people now or even older generations. We have all been through adolescence once, right? 

Anton Saliba makes his debut as a playwright with this new script in Maltese.Anton Saliba makes his debut as a playwright with this new script in Maltese.

I believe Anton has done a wonderful job balancing our generation’s own experience of anxiety (a term which was not so often brought up in conversation a few years back), alongside the millennials’ experience of the same phenomenon.

The script is genuine, unfiltered and raw, and such honesty allows for it to be very funny at times and poignant in others. Throughout the writing process and production development of Ninu, Anton and I have constantly striven to create something that dissects our society’s perception of certain issues. We did this through a story that has its foundations set in a grounded place of reality and truth, and then we made it relatable, fun and exciting for all audiences to enjoy. 

Yes, I feel that there is a distinct need to address these topics within our society because I believe the more we can encourage and promote open dialogue and community accountability – especially with the generations of the future – the more we can confront any stigmas attached to any of the topics addressed, in the hope of moving forward positively together. 

What is the biggest challenge directing a script like this one? 

Doing it justice. In all seriousness, I think the biggest challenge for me is telling the story right, to make it exciting, surprising and fun without verging on preachy, and without running the risk of being insensitive or inaccurate. It is important to make sure that all decisions made from my end, and the actors’, stem from truth.

Because the narrative is rooted in text, discovering how to drive the story forward physically, without repeating what is being expressed verbally, is also very important.

I’m a big believer in approaching the work holistically, so everything is taken into consideration when we’re finally in the rehearsal room, on our feet, working through the different moments within the piece.

All elements need to come together, starting with the narrative style, on to the story’s content, the set, lighting and poster design.

I’m grateful to be surrounded by a team of creatives who are incredibly dedicated, genuine and collaborative individuals who are always up for a good run filled with trial, error and success.

What do you hope the staging of this play will achieve?

I’m hoping it will bring in audiences from all walks of life, ages and backgrounds, casting a spotlight on all those issues addressed throughout Ninu and bringing them to the forefront of conversation between people of all generations. I hope the production will plant a seed, in the hope that it will blossom into something fruitful. 

I also hope that the staging of this play will highlight the importance of new writing, especially in Maltese, within the local theatre scene and that more opportunities to encourage and support such work will be created.

I wish that the younger generation will be inspired to be bolder and braver when it comes to embracing and nourishing their creativity, as they witness a performance created, written and devised by people not (too) much older than themselves!

Ninu is a Spazju Kreattiv production and takes place on March 22, 23 and 24 at Spazju Kreattiv, St James Cavalier, Valletta. Tickets are available online.

www.kreattivita.org

Illustration by Francesca GrechIllustration by Francesca Grech

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