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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Don't You (Forget About Me)

Paul Carachi was someone I met when I first started my career in professional broadcasting a little over 20 years ago. He was a semi-retired journalist and politician who had much wisdom to offer to a media rookie like me. I was most impressed by his ability to coin Maltese terms for common phrases in the news. At his typewriter, the United Nations became il-Ġnus Magħquda and the airport was il-mitjar. The Cold War was il-Gwerra l-Bierda, throughout all the years the Maltese media reported it. I once asked him why it wasn't il-gwerra l-kiesħa and he explained that kiesħa has connotations of ksuħat and therefore not an ideal term. Bruda, he argued, was were he got bierda for the best Maltese term for the Cold War. He insisted that the best translations are never literal.

Pawlu Karaċi, as we affectionately knew him, died last night. He was 80. I had not heard much of him since I left Xandir Malta in the early 1990s. I was not really aware that he was an elected member of the Balzan local council until last year when the Institute of Maltese Journalists gave him the Gold Award.

Professor Henry Frendo called him a giant of Maltese journalism. It's a shame that so many younger Maltese students of journalism and the new crop of professional Maltese translators in Brussels and Luxembourg hardly know anything about him.

I'll always think of him whenever I hear or read that the United Nations are known as in-Nazzjonijiet Uniti rather than il-Ġnus Magħquda.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Point of No Return

This week marks the first full year of regular podcasts from the MaltaMedia Online Network. Following a short test phase, in August 2006, we presented the world's first podcast series in Maltese. That series on 9/11 from a Maltese perspective is being reissued for the 5th anniversary, so I'll probably blog about it again at some point in the coming days. (Now where did I hear that before?) I know I sometimes say that sort of thing and never get to it, but I promise to do my best this time.

I can't believe how significant blogging and podcasting have become in my life. Through my blog I continue to reconnect with people I haven't seen in many years and meet new ones I probably wouldn't have met otherwise. My podcasts have given my work in broadcasting a second life and the Mużika Mod Ieħor series provides me with just the thing I need to keep abreast of the alternative music scene in Malta.

This week's podcast is a little shorter than usual because I'm still very busy finishing my Franklin Furnace book and getting ready for a couple of DRM-related gigs in London, among other things. It opens with Faceless, a track from Norm Rejection's 0002 album from 2000. I played this band's excellent Malta Not For Sale on my podcast last January, but I thought I'd give them another spin since they've just launched a MySpace page, even though the band doesn't really play together anymore. Good move!

In playing this track I thought it apt to plug MMON's recently launched new cartoon by Martin Attard. This is because Martin's cartoon series is called Faceless. This is his first experience doing a cartoon series and in the few weeks that it's been around Faceless is already showing great potential. I, for one, am looking forward to more with every week that passes.

Back on MySpace I recently came across a new duo called Chasing Pandora. They have a very interesting sound, which I've never heard attempted by Maltese musicians before. Actually I think Melissa and Keith are from Gozo. Anyway, they have two demo tracks from their upcoming EP on their MySpace page and I must say that I'm really looking forward to hearing more from Chasing Pandora. You can hear Divine on this week's podcast. Its that kind of song that grows on you with every listen. Haunting and totally addictive. More please!

I'm always touched when podcast listeners or blog readers get in touch with me about whatever it is they're up to. One recent communication came from Andrew Micallef who plays guitar with the Żiżża Ensemble. I had heard of them through Chalee's Soapbox (that's a blog from Charles Cassar who now plays bass with Fire, who have just released their debut CD) and a couple of other sources. Andrew was not only kind enough to send me a recording of the Żiżża Ensemble called Bonnie & Clyde, which you can hear on this week's podcast, but also wrote a very flattering blog entry about my podcasts on his MySpace pages. While this Żiżża made at Tone Studios in B'Kara in 2004 is quite good, I get the impression that they're even more entertaining live. Perhaps I say this because I like watching saxophonist Ruth Abela play live, as I did at The I-Skandal CD launch at Naasha's last May.

Speaking of The I-Skandal, I recently wondered what happened to Subculture, the punk band whose original line-up featured I-Skandal singer JP iż-Żgħiru, who is also the motor mind behind Reciprocal Records. [note to self: time to play another I-Skandal song on your podcast!] Subculture have a new line-up featuring Woody Aki on bass and singer Simone Nero, along with guitarist Ray il-Baħri and his old mate Ray il-Ħamiemu on drums, who replaces Steve Lombardo Attard. They will be releasing their second album, entitled A Life of Disappointment at Rebelfest on 1 September. The two Rays' other band X-Vandals, will also be playing at this Rebelfest at the Buskett Roadhouse, where they will launch their debut CD. More about that in next week's podcast, which will most probably feature a track by X-Vandals. Meanwhile, Ħamiemu is also involved in a Beatles tribute band with Paletti, and brother Mark and Aldo Spiteri. They will be playing a gig at San Pawl Hotel, St. Pauls's Bay (open air terrace) on Thursday, 7th September. Just goes to show that there's really something for everyone in the Maltese music scene. Right?

The RSS feed for the Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast is available here or you can simply click here to subscribe directly with iTunes. You can also add the latest episodes to your My Yahoo! page.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Bluddle-Uddle-Um Dum

Pluto is a dwarf!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Still Loving You

Following a 4-week break, my podcasting series Mużika Mod Ieħor returns this week with more music from Malta and other sounds from my life. This week's podcast is number 31. This is the last podcast in what has been a very eventful year for me on the podcasting front. I'll write a separate blog post in the coming days to mark the first anniversary since I started podcasting regularly on 26 August 2005, after a brief test period. So watch out for that before next weekend.

The return of the podcast is inflected by three events. The first two provide the first three tracks, while the third made me play the final song on this week's programme. The events are my recent visit to Malta, of course, the second anniversary from the death of my friend Mario Ellul, and the wonderful 4-day seaside festival in Scarborough called Beached.

I've been meaning to play something from the Maltese internet record label Pinkpube ever since I discovered them on MySpace a few months ago. I met a couple of the people from Pinkpube at one of my gigs in Malta about two weeks ago and I promised I'd play something on my very first podcast following the short break since episode 30. And so, this week's podcast opens with the lounge sounds of Grandiloquent by Hagen from the EP Pleves, which was released by Pinkpube last January.

Pinkpube is now at release 19 and they have quite an impressive catalogue already. I will most certainly be playing more of their releases in the coming weeks. Meanwhile you can check them out at their website, where you can download all their releases, or on MySpace, where you can also find personal pages by some of the artists on their roster.

During one of my recent Malta gigs I was very pleased to see my old friend Jody Fiteni again. The last time I saw him he came along with our mutual friends Kevin O'Neill and Mike Bugeja at The Strand in Sliema on my birthday, earlier this year. On that day he promised me some recordings of his recent work and other odd rarities. True to his word, Jody showed up at Naasha's one night at the beginning of this month with a bunch of CDs. One is actually a DVD containing the two tracks he played with The Ophidian Twin, his band from 1989, on my TV show Mill-Garaxx.

On this week's podcast you can hear Call of the Wild by The Ophidian Twin. If you think Malta didn't have an alternative music scene before the 1990s just listen to this track and you'll be amazed. The Ophidian Twin was a short-lived underground band that rose from the ashes of two other bands: Prinz Eugene and Dance the Ghost. It was one of a good half dozen bands that played non-mainstream music in Malta at a time when recording studios were hard to come by and live gigs and venues were certainly not as abundant as they are now. Jody had been active on the local music scene even earlier in the decade, particularly with an electronic combo called The Joy Circuit.

Mario Ellul was an integral part of the driving force behind a television series that captured some of that raw youth culture at the end of the 1980s. Sadly there is no official archival record of the series, but luckily, several enthusiasts have preserved VHS recordings of several moments from Mill-Garaxx. That series is the one I'm most proud of in my career as a professional broadcaster in Malta between 1984 and 1994. If it's the only thing I'm ever remembered for I'll be a very happy man.

Mill-Garaxx was as good as I believe it was because Mario insisted on doing it against all the odds. I think we actually kept each other going through the lack of technical resources, the raised eyebrows from the management at TVM, the cynical grips from some of the television crew, and the suspension of fellow producers Alfie Fabri and Ray Bajada from the airwaves, just weeks into our planning of the project. They were suspended for producing a radio programme that encouraged a free and open discussion on recreational drug-use on a Sunday afternoon Radio Malta 2 slot of which I was the executive producer.

Anyway, I think it's appropriate to mark two years since Mario passed away by playing this rare recording from Mill-Garaxx. If any one else has VHS recordings of that amazing series please let me know because I'm thinking of collecting whatever I can into a compilation for public consumption over the Internet.

To give my listeners a better sense of Jody's work, I'm also including a track from his more recent recordings. After years of tinkering around with UK-based bands like The Switch and The Mustard Seeds, he emerged a few years ago with a project called The Sky Giants, along with a couple of his long-time collaborators from the time he lived in London. From The Sky Giant's second CD album Amulet, recorded in 2002, you can hear the patriotic track 1565.

Turning to the present sounds around me here in Scarborough, I cannot but mention Beached, the wonderful sea-front festival that has become an annual appointment for many local music lovers. Beached is the largest music event on the UK's north east coast. It has the potential to become another massive alternative event for the not-so-long British summer. Meanwhile, part of its charm and greatness comes from the relatively small scale profile it has kept. While it would be good to see all the hard work put into it appreciated by an even larger crowd than that which comes to Scarborough South Bay during this 4-day event, I somehow feel that the beauty of an alternative music event will be ruined if corporate sponsors make it possible for every Tom, Dick and Harriet to come litter the beaches of this little seaside town.

To some degree it's all about the music, but there really is much more to this event than the music. Still, since my podcast is mostly about music, I bring you some music from Beached in the shape of The Paperpushers, a band very close to home since most (if not all) of its members are recent graduates from our very own University of Hull's Scarborough Campus. Their song Ice Cream Sky is an excellent specimen of their fresh soulful sound. They hit the Beached 2006 stage on Sunday afternoon, and they're one of the acts I'm really looking forward to seeing live again. Perhaps next year we can even have a Maltese band or two perform at Beached in Scarborough.

Until then, there's another year of podcasts in the Mużika Mod Ieħor series. As ever, I'm always happy to receive your comments, not only directly on the blog, but also by email though my online contact form. So keep them coming. I promise to do the same with the podcasts.

The RSS feed for the Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast is available here or you can simply click here to subscribe directly with iTunes. You can also add the latest episodes to your My Yahoo! page.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Closest Thing to Crazy

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


It's good to be home with my monkey and my dog.

It's great to breathe in the fresh North Sea air again.

It's [insert positive superlative adjective here] to have the luxury of my own space and time back.

It's just good to be home.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

When the Going Gets Tough

I saw this interesting article in today's Times of London. I thought I'd blog it so I can read it again later.

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Is the world wide web art's final frontier?

by Grayson Perry

Some people, I imagine, still hold on to the quaint idea that there is a cutting edge in contemporary art. They think that in some café or college somewhere they will find a bunch of young revolutionaries forging the next chapter in a chronologically neat story of art. If one were to seek out that mythical avant-garde coterie at the moment, a good place to look might be the world wide web. This awesome information technology that we are rapidly taking for granted is an arena that is apparently attracting artists who want to push the boundaries of what art can be. I thought the boundaries in art had all been crossed in the Sixties, or was it a century ago? Maybe I was wrong.

I had a good opportunity to find out more about this virtual world when a friend came to stay at my dacha. He is Charlie Gere, reader in new-media research at the Institute for Cultural Research at Lancaster University, and has recently published a book called Art, Time and Technology (Berg).

I asked him: “Is new-media art, that is art using computers, robotics and the internet, going to be the next big thing?” Answer: “No.”

The web, Charlie says, has the alarming potential of realising the idea of the artist Joseph Beuys, that everyone is an artist. This could spell the end of art as we know it, when everyone becomes a producer and we all drown in a sea of mediocrity made up of billions of minutely-niched microchannels.

Some people may think it is being creative to use a wacky font in a funny colour on their page on MySpace but the most interesting artists are using computers for more than just mastering Photoshop or writing a blog. Charlie thinks a good example of this is Short Films about Flying, by Jon Thomson and Alison Craighead (

Shown as a gallery video installation, it appears to be a series of short videos. They begin and end with a countdown and titles and we assume that they are conventionally recorded and edited. But the content is actually live and random. Our preconceptions about time are being played with. The shots of aircraft landing and taking off are live from a webcam at Boston airport, remotely controlled by random visitors to a website. The text is plucked at random by the computer from a chatroom and the music is sampled live from a radio station. We so want to believe that there is a controlling consciousness that we read significance into chance encounters of text, music and CCTV.

Charlie thinks new-media art is at a similar stage to video when it was in its infancy. In the early days the equipment was crude and video art was ignored by the establishment. In the Sixties the technology was the headline; now we find nothing remarkable in a black cube containing yet another beautifully displayed video projection. We have to remember that when Nam June Paik and others started, the very fact that they used video was seen as radical, as well as a critique of television itself. Now flat screens and projections have made the technology so discreet and tasteful that even the National Gallery stages a show of Bill Viola.

New-media art has similar traits of technological fetishism and also what Charlie calls “heroic marginality”. Software artists such as Alex McLean ( are such hardcore outsiders that their art is in the computer code they write, which is appreciable only by others who can understand that code. Net.artists such as Vuk Cosic ( can be so anti-commodification that they will go to the lengths of sabotaging attempts by organisers of festivals such as Documenta to archive their work by pre-emptively publishing it on the net.

This rebellious stance is understandable when we remember that the whole personal-computer ethos comes out of the West Coast hippie counter-culture. This is still evident in the bohemianism that is allowed to cling to the Apple brand.

What is different from the Sixties is that artists no longer believe in utopian technological progress. Unlike artists such as John Cage and Alan Kaprow who thought they were the future, today’s new-media creatives are questioning and ironic about it.

So are artists at the cutting edge of new-media technology? No, says Charlie. One of the problems is that other stuff on the net is so much more mind-blowing. A site such as Google Earth is so much more awesome and thought-provoking than something an arty hacktivist can knock up on her PC.

Artists such as Susan Collins are trying to find modest meditative ways of humanising the cold stream of zeros and ones. Her piece Fenlandia ( shows us a webcam view of East Anglia that slowly refreshes the frame over 44 hours. She is using the technology set up to send us a real-time image to give us something very old-fashioned — the experience of contemplating a painting.

So if art is not at the cutting edge of new-media technology what is? In terms of innovative delivery systems and use of the web, says Charlie, it’s porn.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Some Like It Hot

I miss doing my weekly podcasts. I miss the cool North Sea air in Scarborough. I miss my monkey and my dog. I should be getting back to all that by now. What's more, while it has its own value and place in my life, my current visit to Malta is taking me away from finishing my book about Franklin Furnace. At least I have finally managed to see the mighty Xtruppaw in a live gig.

This morning it dawned on me that I've been so busy working on the Objects Found or Lost? project since last month that I haven't had the time or the brain-space to write a decent blog entry about all this. So here is my feeble attempt (yes, the Malta sun is too much for any mortal to feel truly productive) at capturing just a few of the ins and outs that have taken me away from my comfortable existence in Scarborough.

Coming to Malta at this time of the year is not a good idea. First there's the sun and the heat, of course. Besides all that, for those of us whose lives are governed by an academic calendar, this is when we're supposedly farthest away from the day-to-day toil of our scholarly activity. So coming to Malta to engage in a midsummer research project is almost akin to an intellectual suicide attempt.

Needless to say, spending some quality time with my parents makes it all worthwhile. Catching up with some old friends is also most pleasant. Equally rewarding is the opportunity to work at Naasha's Events Lounge, where the creative atmosphere is among the warmest I've ever experienced anywhere in the Maltese islands. Lenny and the rest of the gang at Naasha not only made us very comfortable during the two days we played there last week but also made me realize what a gem of a place this unique venue really is for Malta. Let's hope that Lenny's investment continues to yield dividends even when he moves on to other pastures.

Moving on to our two nights at SUPA within the 2006 Malta Arts Festival proved to be a more natural affair than I expected. Or maybe I had planned it this way all along...I just can't think straight any more in this heat! Frank Camilleri and Jason Masini are the best facilitators any performance artist can ever hope for. They make working at the MITP an utter joy, where all the odds melt like a bucket of ice in the Maltese midday sun. I'm also grateful to the Foundation for International Studies at the University of Malta, which generously provided us with Internet access within the 16th-century courtyard I decided to turn into a venue for our Digital Live Art event.

Meanwhile I'm really enjoying some very frank and sincere comments about some of the shows, which have been posted at It's almost even better that most of the people commenting on Object Found or Lost? on this online forum have never seen any of my live work before. I wonder what they would have made of it given that context instead of whatever it is they're actually reacting to.

Throughout this visit to Malta I have come to appreciate one friend above all others. He is always there for me not only with his expert and professional support in all things technical but also in extending the most gracious courtesy towards my ideas, as outlandish as they may seem for anyone else. He has gone above and beyond the call of duty; whatever that cliche is all about. For me he will always be my Saviour.

My podcasts will be back next week. Soon enough I'll be enjoying the cool air in Scarborough with my monkey and my dog who do what they always do so well. It'll be good to be back home.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Close to the Edge

An article I wrote about SUPA 2006 appeared in today's Malta Independent on Sunday magazine Manic. The magazine doesn't have a website so I'm reproducing my piece here.

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The Malta Arts Festival: Summer 2006 started on 28 July and runs until 20 August. One of the features of the festival is a series of events from the Summer University of Performing Arts (SUPA), originating from within the University of Malta. Toni Sant returns to Malta for a brief visit to present a Digital Live Art event along with a small group of collaborators at SUPA. Here he shares his exploration of the cultural relevance of such activities in Malta.

When I started to see where SUPA fits within the Malta Arts Festival: Summer 2006, festival artistic directors Mario Frendo and Davinia Galea told me they took particular care to put forward the widest possible spectrum of artistic activities possible. "This was done not only in the different mediums i.e. music, theatre, dance, etc., but also within the same artistic genre. Therefore musical activities range from the most popular crowd pulling events to the more specialized chamber music concerts. It is important for us as the Arts Council to reach out through quality. This surely does not rule out any events that normally do not attract huge audiences."

It is one of the objectives of the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts, to broaden and increase access to high quality arts and cultural events. "This ideal is reflected in this year's edition of the festival which includes also events of a particular nature which target specialized audiences including those who normally might not attend artistic events," the artistic directors told me, referring in particular to the production of Digital Live Art I'm involved in as part of the festival.

In Objects Lost or Found? (MITP Courtyard, Valletta - 5th&6th August at 9pm) we appropriate and manipulate objects found on the web, exploring the tradition of working with found objects and ready-mades in art first proposed by Marcel Duchamp almost 100 years ago. This new work explores what changes within the creative process in a digital media environment. You can read more about this event by going to the project website at

SUPA events are ideal for the Malta Arts Festival because they offer something which is not easily available elsewhere in Malta. SUPA events are also prestigious in attracting international collaborators that in turn attract international viewers. With Italian actors, Serbian dancers, French, Spanish and Irish performers, SUPA helps give a broader international dimension to the Arts Festival. The inclusion of SUPA events in the Malta Arts Festival also helps give the broader series of events a kind of 'fringe festival' within the festival, one that is integral in itself.

Besides the support SUPA receives from the Malta Council for Arts and Culture, through the inclusion of most of its performances in the Malta Arts Festival, it also benefits greatly from collaborative association with the University Cultural Cooperative, which manages the MITP theatre in Valletta. BOV is a SUPA founding sponsor and the workshops and masterclasses are supported by the Manoel Theatre, the National Orchestra, and the Music Studies Programme of the University of Malta. All these institutional supporters render SUPA into a fairly solid base from which to propose an arts programme that is not necessarily dependent on financial or popular success for its longevity.

Aside from the programme of events that people can attend throughout most of the month of August (even after the Malta Arts Festival is officially over) SUPA is the result of a process that has been going on for a couple of years without a name. Officially, SUPA came about in 2005 following a collaboration between the Icarus Project, a Maltese theatre group led by Frank Camilleri, and Mario Ruggeri's Milan-based CIRT (Centro Indipendente Ricerca Teatrale). Ruggeri and Camilleri met in Bulgaria at a theatre meeting in 2004 and immediately realised that their interests in theatre converged. Since that meeting, they have been collaborating on various fronts. SUPA is the main manifestation of this collaboration.

To better understand what goes on in what is arguably the most broad-reaching event in Malta's alternative theatre scene, I asked Dr Frank Camillieri to tell me more about SUPA. "Following the experience of the first edition of SUPA, it was quite natural for Mario and me to think up of an entity that could encompass the collaboration that has been developing since 2004. TARF - Theatre Arts Researching the Foundation - is the result of SUPA 2005." Camilleri says that "TARF is not so much a 'group' as a structure that allows Icarus and CIRT, as well as other theatre groups that are showing interest in what we do, to come together and share theatre knowledge in the praxis. The University of Malta's Theatre Studies Division is the key link that binds all these structures together. First of all it gives us the possibility of speaking of a 'Summer University' (rather than a Summer School); secondly, the research conducted within SUPA and TARF is central to the PAR (practice as research) dimension that Theatre Studies is aiming to boost in it next stage of development." Incidentally, this is in line with the PAR element that is currently being strongly developed in most Theatre and Performance departments in universities around Europe.

Fearing that this Manic article would only appeal to a fairly narrow audience if I kept it at an academic level, I asked my colleague Frank a very practical question, which is actually much more complex than the sort of thing we have space for here. It's a question I ask myself quite often: why should we still bother with research theatre in the 21st century when theatre arts have changed so much over the last 100 odd years?

His response gives me even more food for thought. He says: "...because not all human beings are consumers all the time...because it is different ... because when it is good, research/physical/contemporary/call-it-what-you-will theate is very entertaining in a way that a McDonald's burger can never be."

Frank Camilleri has personally been engaged in this type of work for close to two decades. Of course, we can trace it all the way to the 1960s, but according to Camilleri, "it is in the 1990s that I perceive a quasi-scientific (definitely academic, in the positive sense) interest in the performer's work and in the art/process of putting up a performance."

In Malta, the work evolved as it always does: thanks to individuals and/or individual groups. The availability of the MITP space from the early 1990s has certainly boosted the interest in this field and the individuals/groups who worked or work at the MITP can be considered to be the main proponents in this line of theatre, diverse as it is. The names most associated with all this are those of John Schranz (with whom Frank Camilleri worked closely for 14 years), Immanuel Mifsud, Aleateia Theatre Group, and Theatre Anon. In most cases, for an impact to be made, activities need to span years. In this way, and only in this way, can theatre practitioners build a legacy for themselves, which strengthens their work over the years.

Currently there are a number of interesting 'alternative theatre' groups/individuals that might develop into something exciting ... but let us wait for a couple of years before we assess their impact. Another point concerning the Malta experience of research theatre is the inclusion of so-called 'physical theatre' classes in drama schools. These classes are contributing to a commodification of what could be 'packaged' as 'research theatre'. The effect of this commodification can be felt in some 'alternative' and 'physical theatre' performances that have been put up in the past 4 years or so.

There's much more to SUPA that what you would get if you simply followed the work of Frank Camilleri and his direct collaborators in Icarus. I would go as far as saying that work by Maltese artists can be appreciated even more when presented in the context of an International festival in Malta.

As Dr Camilleri explains, "the tools that SUPA employs are the tools of practice: of technique and experience. Sometimes these tools are brought to bear on one aspect of the work (for instance, on the physical work of the performer), at other times the emphasis could be an aspect of the voice or even an exploration of spatial dynamics or of montage procedures. So there are various points of entry. Though this might give the impression that we are dissecting and fragmenting the performative experience (and this is one of the cardinal sins committed in the commodified 'physical theatre' sessions mentioned earlier), our objective is always the attainment of an organic way of performative behaviour.

"Yes, in order to obtain organicity, a performer often needs to fragment the way he or she works. This is where technique is useful: because it is not the end in itself but a means, a bridge, to an end. Having said that, I am aware of the danger that some practitioners fall for when technique becomes the performance. A visiting professor we had this year at Theatre Studies called this phenomenon the 'fetishisation of technique' i.e. when technique replaces the thing that it is supposed to bolster. This discussion is part of what produces the aesthetics, hence the art, of this kind of theatre work. This aesthetic, in turn, connects with the viewers who see the work ... and that's where the entertainment comes in. I can quote what Roland Barthes says about the pleasure of the text, how there is pleasure in passively consuming something, but that there is then a kind of pleasure that makes of the viewer a co-creator, but that is a long story ..."

The idea of collaboration, interaction, and exchange are central in many contemporary performance works. It is therefore not surprising that SUPA includes a couple of events that are listed as 'exchanges of work'.

Although these type of encounters aren't new in the art world, the term 'work exchange' is a relatively new term. Within a theatre environment, Frank Camilleri explains it as an encounter between two or three theatre realities that work together and share their experiences. The aim of a 'work exchange' is not necessarily to 'teach' or to 'transmit' a particular technique. It is, rather, a space for practitioners to show and share their work with other practitioners." A 'workshop', on the other hand, is essentially a pedagogical experience where the leader transmits his or her craft to a group of individuals.

This year's SUPA includes two work exchanges: one between Icarus and CIRT (this is an ongoing project that allows a particular kind of praxis research to happen over a number of years) and another that includes a Dublin-based group called nervousystem.

Seeing the richness of this alternative festival within the Malta Arts Festival, I asked Frank about future plans for SUPA. His response is clearly on of someone who has his feet firmly planted on the ground. "That way," he assures me, "you have a better chance of, one day, learning to fly."

As he sees it, the development of the SUPA research paradigm is not about 'doing more things', so it is not a question of extending the programme. "I feel that the current research paradigm (performances-workshops-works exchanges-conferences) needs to be explored for a couple of years. Last year was dedicated to 'Theatre Craft'. This year we are trying to explore links between theatre and music. My dream is to have SUPA editions dedicated to the interstices that exist between theatre and the other performing arts. For instance, a SUPA between dance and theatre; music and theatre; digital live art and/or performance and technology; theatre and installations ... I feel that this is the way forward. I also feel that it is the experience itself that will guide the way."

The full programme of the Malta Arts Festival is available at For a full programme of SUPA events see