Reuben Pace

City of Humanity & the visit to Visual and Performing Arts School in Malta

The Visual and Performing Arts School inaugurated just last Friday 16th of March its already throbbing with activity. Established opera Director Michael Moxham and set designer Nicky Shaw visited the school and gave a talk to the students. The below is the experience of Mr. Michael Moxham of this first visit to the VPA school.


It is always surprising, that no matter how many times in my directing career I have to face a chorus of seasoned professionals or present a model to a tough less sympathetic management, I am never nervous.  However, why is it faced with the idea of entering a school of potential performing divas, and future stars, I am filled with awe and trepidation!?

As this was just an introductory talk and not a workshop lesson, we were not sure what to expect or in fact present. My fears were as soon quelled, as soon as we were met by the capable Zep Camilleri. I knew from his friendly, authoritative, enthusiasm, we were in safe hands. I immediately sensed an aura of pride with the building and facilities, everything felt fresh and cared for.

The Welcome

Having worked with a lot of kids before in this capacity, you always know how they will be from the moment they prepare to enter the classroom, or in this case the studio theatre. I also always wait until the last to enter. That way it also means they have to say hello and acknowledge our presence without too much formality. So, as always, I observed very attentively, the manner in which they lined up and were marched in. In this case, it was executed with discipline and politeness. By the time I entered they were already sat and focused.

The studio: it was perfect. I saw all the technical and artistic elements needed for a safe haven needed to inspire confidence and creativity and be able to learn the more pragmatic and technical aspects of our performance world. From the mini lighting tower to the proud photos of past productions that adorned the walls, their studio was perfect and conducive.

The Talk

We led them through a mini-presentation of who we were, and then started a Q and A session. I was impressed how much they already knew, as I do not believe they have been exposed to as much opera as one would hope; however, they soon gained a firm grip on their understanding of the genre. We focused on what is opera and after about 15 minutes had soon established the difference between opera and musicals. We then elicited from them a panoply of all the various roles and staffing required to stage an opera. Our young learners were immediately gripped and fired back informed, humorous and at times cheeky answers; for example, and particularly personal to me, they told me that directors are just there to shout at everyone.

In the end, even they were surprised how much they knew and it was clear that a crucial trust and bond had been established very quickly.

They also demonstrated a good knowledge of the use of 'props', scenery and designs. Nicky gave a beautiful, delicate and in some ways challenging presentation of her work. They were enthralled by the images and the complexity of some of the ideas, asking very poignant and engaging questions, their imaginations had been awoken.


It always amazes me how quickly you can get to know a bunch of kids. By the end, I felt I had already taught all of them, but that is also down to them, making us so welcome. For myself, I could have carried on all day and cannot wait to visit this school again.

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