Events at Pjazza Teatru Rjal

Ira Losco by Shane P. Watts Malta Police Band photo by Stephen Busuttil Pjazza Teatru Rjal by Alan Carville Pjazza Teatru Rjal by Alan Carville Pjazza Teatru Rjal by Alan Carville

Pjazza Teatru Rjal programme of events for the month of May includes; Micronation Series, a Malta Design Week Satellite Project by Norbert Francis Attard will run between 17 – 24 May while Talent Unmasked: A Night of Creation, a performance by Aġenzija Sapport will be held on 23 May.

On 30 May the theatre is expected to play to a full house for an Evening with Ira Losco & Friends. May will close off with a concert by the Royal Marines Association on 31 May.

June will open on a high note, with the opera La Traviata being held between 7 and 8 June. Kiss the Sky, a site-specific sculpture by Vince Briffa, will run between 4 June and 16 July, while the Malta Police Band will hold a concert on 28 June. Pjazza Teatru Rjal is also one of the two main venues for the staging of this year’s edition of the Malta Arts Festival.

A magnificent chandelier was suspended on one of the plinths of the arts space – an installation by Pierre Portelli which is set to catch the attention of the public walking through City Gate, turning random passers-by into an audience. The installation will run until the last week of May.

Situated at the entrance of the capital city Valletta, a UNESCO world heritage site, Pjazza Teatru Rjal has always been much more than the stones from which it is made. With its layers of history and memory, it is also a monument, a shrine – and, now, a vibrant creative space. Flanked by St Catherine’s Church and the Church of Our Lady of Victories, its underground spaces and passages run beneath the capital, a part of the city’s cultural, artistic and social fabric.

Massive steel structures and wooden flooring are interlinked with huge stone foundations which are still visible, exposed during the restoration works. Stone walls grow out of hewn rock and high glass windows shed light on old archways. Tangible and intangible, present and past, mix palpably in these spaces.

Originally built by Edward Middleton Barry in 1866, in 1873 its interior was extensively damaged by a fire and was restored by 1877. In 1942 the theatre received a direct hit through aerial bombing, with loss of life. As the years passed, controversy raged on its rebuilding; meanwhile the ruins lay idle, a wartime scar in a changing city.

Recently restored by Italian architect Renzo Piano, it is now the best open-air theatre in Malta and offers important backstage facilities like a stage manager’s desk, changing rooms and showers. Fully accessible for disabled people, both actors and audience, it also boasts a state-of-the-art audio system. Initially dubbed “the roofless theatre”, it has recently come into its own as Pjazza Teatru Rjal, a vibrant artistic and creative centre which – like art, like memory – is set to inhabit a cultural and social dimension much larger than its physical space.