It might be a different December at Malta’s National Theatre with no Panto in sight this season, but this has not stopped Teatru Manoel from preparing an exciting theatrical line-up for December, with both in-person and online showings.
Social-distancing measures are guaranteed, as is the theatre’s commitment to health, safety and sanitisation protocols.
“The festive season is always an exciting time for Teatru Manoel, and despite the challenges of 2020, I’m happy to say that although the traditional panto has been cancelled due to the COVID pandemic, the theatre has prepared a number of events to compensate for this loss,” says Mr Kenneth Zammit Tabona, Artistic Director at Teatru Manoel. “We’re adapting and innovating to bring people some astounding pieces of creativity.”
A septet from the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra kicked off the December calendar with An Evening with Beethoven, captivating viewers with two chamber works to celebrate the composer’s 250th birthday. Saturday, 5th December follows with a contemporary dance exploration of shared and personal space amid social isolation. Performed by Contact Dance Company and choreographed by Francesca Tranter with concept, visuals and music by Renzo Spiteri, The Murmuring of Trees promises to be an emotionally charged evening.
On 6th December, Trio Immersio sponsored by the Austrian embassy will present two concerts at 11.30am and 3pm respectively. The first features music by Viennese composers Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms, while audiences of the second are enveloped in Ravel’s early 20th-century Paris, 1980s Vienna and present day. The time in between the two concerts will allow the theatre to sanitise and the audience to enjoy a good lunch.
On 18th, 19th and 20th December, the stage welcomes the much-loved A Christmas Carol. Teatru Manoel and Masquerade Malta have joined forces to produce Ian Moore’s new adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic tale. Festive cheer continues on 22nd December with Christmas with ViBE. Valletta Baroque Ensemble’s popular concert returns with the magic of Baroque Christmases of yesteryear. ViBE is working with KorMalta and bass Albert Buttigieg to perform music by the most celebrated Baroque masters.
Christmas at the Manoel – Project Cabaret is an intimate evening of Christmas memories that tell of hope for the future. Directed by Zoe Alba Farrugia and Chantelle Micallef Grimaud, audiences will be thrilled by classic songs and relatable, funny tales. Then, between 29th and 31st December, A Christmas Swing Special with Nico Darmanin is a Teatru Manoel and FTZ Community Foundation celebration of one of Malta’s finest tenors, directed by Kris Spiteri.
Teatru Manoel’s Toi Education Programme is also in full swing in December, with live performances at 10am on Saturdays as part of the theatre’s commitment to supporting young artists and theatregoers. The morning events are for small audiences and online viewers.
On 5th December, Playground Past Times (for ages 7+) is a dynamic show that uses dance and crafts to help us learn about choices and free-thinking. On 12th December, Emme is a learning-in-Maltese event that brings children aged 3 to 5 the adventures of Emme, a baby merrill (blue rock thrush) who is bright and cheerful, but not always obedient.
On 19th December, Tommy and Tammy’s Christmas Tree! (for ages 0–2) encourages parents to dress up their little ones in fabulous Christmas attire to celebrate Baby’s First Christmas. And December also brings music for all ages when soprano Nicola Said presents an inspirational introduction to Maltese song through Baroque works, as well as those by Charles Camilleri, Joseph Vella and Alexander Vella Gregory.
“Our artists have created a December calendar brimming with variety and open opportunities for Maltese artists and audiences,” beams Mr Zammit Tabona. “In 2020, Malta’s artistic and cultural community has felt the impact of adversity, so I encourage people to embrace theatre once again in the Manoel’s most challenging season. I thank you for always supporting us – now let’s get the show on the road!”