The "Absurd” Theatre
PUBLIC REACTION to last Wednesday's play on MTV — described as a further contribution towards the introduction of the "theatre of the absurd" in Malta — was hostile to say the least about it. It is a fair bet that many televiewers switched over to the film on RAI during the play. There could have been two reasons for this: firstly a play such as "Anestesija" does not appeal to the larger majority of Maltese televiewers who seek in drama only light entertainment of the kind of the cliché-ridden stage productions which used to be put up every weekend in parish halls all over Malta; secondly it is not improbable that a substantial number of televiewers may tend to dismiss too lightly such material as last Wednesday's play, if only not to exert themselves to make the intellectual effort thee "absurd" theatre demands of its audience if it is to be understood and appreciated. at least in part.
Admittedly, the Maltese in general – and for that matter the larger majority of the theatre-going masses, here and in other countries — are subconsciously "suspicious" of more modern productions. This may be due to a number of reasons, but most probably this suspicion is only a by-product of one’s own aversion to change — in this case a change from the conventional theater to the absurd. However, the important question is whether this very reluctance on the part of the general public to accept changes and experiments which tend to revolutionize the stage even in Malta, should act as a deterrent to obstruct its very progress.
We believe that this should not be the case and despite the adverse reaction to last Wednesday's play we think that MTV were right in taking the plunge to put a production of this kind on the small screen. Of course, the people at MTV may already be having second thoughts about this and they may also be juggling with the idea whether to write off or not the "absurd theatre" for good. Admittedly, they have the unenviable job of trying to please and entertain as many televiewers as possible for as long a time as possible and, considering that they are in direct competition with the sophistication that is RAI, the "absurd" may not exactly be the injection MTV needs to make itself more popular. The chances are that MTV will be receiving hundreds of letters protesting against "Anestesija" and this will undoubtedly make the top brass at Television House start thinking all over again how wise they were to put on the play last Wednesday.
However, without going into the merits, or lack of them, of "Anestesija" itself, we feel that the "absurd" should be given a chance. The big question mark now is whether last Wednesday's play prejudices the chances of further productions on MTV or whether MTV will continue to push on with the “absurd” regardless of public opinion which could hardly be the case. But a solution may not be that difficult to find. After all we feel that the ''absurd" is one unconventional way to bring public attention to some of the more conventional problems of the world and that this type of production should not be lightly dismissed because the larger majority of televiewers are reluctant to make the effort it takes to appreciate this kind of play.
We think that MTV should continue with producing "absurd’s plays from time to time; provided that they are given the right kind of publicity so that televiewers will know exactly what to expect. Maybe in this manner the "absurd" would be given the kind of impetus it needs to get off the ground until the time it starts to grow on the people... because after all "absurd" plays do have a message to convey to their audiences, if only in their own particular way.
THE MALTA NEWS - Editorial - FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 29th, 1972