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The Need for a Contemporary Theatre
In this our neutral*, neutered, sterile nation,
at least as evidenced by our theatres today.

The need for a contemporary theatre -  which reflects a society that is going through the rapid development which our society is going through today -  is so great that it is futile, puerile and simply a huge waste of time to try to get into vague and irrelevant discussions about the form or shape that this drama should take – a relevant drama which for a long time now, has been deprived of the recognition it deserves – just as our (inexistent) Maltese Theatre has been deprived of the support it deserves. 
...Because we need a more particular theatre, a theatre with a more direct appeal.

This type of relevant drama is not at all a “comfortable” drama – in fact it is decidedly uncomfortable, which perhaps explains the lack of support. It’s a type of drama which does not guarantee its audience a final smile on the lips.

And yet, if the audience does laugh, it is the of laughter that comes from having to compensate for the bare, senseless panorama by which we are surrounded, the laughter that seeks to escape the embarrassing scenes (of our lives) that the audience is forced to assist to. Which is why there are those who find it more comfortable to try and seek what a foreign stage, far away from our shores, has to offer.
And yet, if needs be, we shouldn’t give a .... about what’s happening in the well-established theatres of Europe or America. It is time we decided what we ourselves should be doing. If we still want and prefer the comfort of foreign dramatic stereotypes – which are indeed comfortable because they just might interest us and provide some universal appeal, since we too are part of the human race and yet they fail to appeal to us Maltese more particularly – ... if we still seek this comfort, than we are still languishing in the cultural inertia which we have always espoused.

Because we need a more particular theatre, a theatre with a more direct appeal. And regardless of the craft and skill that foreign dramas offer, they never have the direct bearing, nor the more focussed intent that is needed to recreate the particular Maltese environment we inhabit – our experience. They always fail to wake us out of the comfortable anaesthesia of our teatrin, in order to discover the uncomfortable anxiety that a contemporary theatre can offer.

It is wrong to believe that, simply because Malta is geographically small, this inevitable means that the Maltese experience is therefore unable to elicit a universal, relevant artistic expression. (Does this bear repeating?) 

The richness that is Malta and its ancient people lies beneath the strata and sub-strata of our culture, a richness that has never been allowed to see the light of day of the relevant Maltese Theatre. 

For a writer who wants to commit himself to this endeavour, the prime resources are already at hand, the horizons are limitless, the journey is at its beginning.
But such a writer has to go it alone in our present environment.
(At least in this overcrowded land of ours, where everybody wants to know where you’re going, and yet everybody assumes he knows where you’ve been... and nobody cares to see you set off, in any case.)

In the meantime, we’d rather commit ourselves to discuss... what MIGHT be done sometime who knows when (who cares anyway!). Until the day will come when contemporary drama, the undiscovered new plays of today, end up getting older and older, until they becomes History, even better, they becomes FOLKLORE. And then maybe, they becomes comfortable (to stage). But by then, the need for a contemporary theatre, which reflects a society that is going through the rapid development which our society is going through today (bla bla bla see above, first line, first paragraph...) by then, this need for a contemporary, relevant theatre will remain, still, the subject of a discussion, detached and separate from the life and history of this our neutral, neutered and sterile nation. At least, as evidenced by our theatres today.

First Published as a postscript to the play
"U L-Anġlu Ħabbar..." 1995

* Written in 1995, this reference to neutrality has now been effectively neutered by Malta's accession to the EU in 2004.

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