Tony Cassar Darien (Festival Judge)

Tony Cassar Darien was appointed Principal of the Manoel Theatre Academy of Dramatic Arts (MTADA) in 1981. He resigned in 1993 to become the first ever Artistic Director of the National Theatre of Malta. During his tenure marked improvements in both the physical and aesthetic aspects became apparent. The theatre became a "Complex" which staged popular events like PoezijaPlus, Windows-on-Music, and LoggaPalk apart from its traditional calendar.

Introduced to theatre as a child actor by Harry Born OP and Guzeppina Attard Montaldo, the respective mentors behind the Sliema based Deporres Theatre and the Lillipuziani Company, Cassar Darien developed as an actor on stage, screen and radio. As a director he discovered a fondness for contemporary opera which included the only local stagings of Nicoló Isouard  (with MTADA and the Johann Strauss School of Music), Zebra by Camilleri and Serracino Inglott and a remake of Pace's I Martiri in Sydney, Australia.

His extensive writing includes some fifty radio plays of which Il-Profezija ta' Geremija and Dawk il-Fniek ghal Barra were awarded the Redifusion Silver and Bronze stars respectively, and a number of radio serials e.g. Id-Dinja Zghira ta' Don Camillo. Besides a number of dramatic translations his original works for the theatre include, amongst others, Il-Kummidjant, Id-Duhhan tal-Hajja, and the triology based on the Jeffrey, Joyce and John Bundy characters. His screened PBS commission for the Millenium's Celebrations schedule was entitled Sitta w Sitta Jaghmlu Tlettax!  Some of his English plays like A Brief Respite and The Metamorphosis of a Tiny Insect have been performed in the USA, Poland, Sweden, Germany and Norway. His other literary contributions include regular cultural features to the media whilst his collection of short stories is published in Din Dinja Kwadra (1979).

During the late sixties and throughout the seventies Cassar Darien pioneered a distinctive style of nonsense humour in Maltese on radio, television and the printed media. These contributions sported names like Nofsu Vojt u Nofsu Mimli, Ahjar Dahka minn Pillola, Cassar Darien's Carousel and The Chronicle's Korny Korner. His satiric sketches on Tv's Sibtijiet Flimkien, partnered by actress Josette Ciappara, and presented by Norman Hamilton, sparked many a local controversy.

In October 1998 he was awarded the title of Honorary Doctor in Humanitarian Arts by the Russian Academy (Armenian Branch). In February 2002 he was appointed Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister de la Culture, Catherine Tasca. Cassar Darien is currently the Artistic Director of the Mediterranean Conference Centre and sits  on the Board of Public Broadcasting Services and the Comitato d'Onore of the Teatro Massimo in Palermo.