AND THE PRICE WE PAY
Schembri and his admirable investigative contribution on “The Dead
Theatre Society”, may serve, if nothing else, to at least postpone any early
rushed post-mortem on the cause of the death (or is it an imminent death?)
of a an institution which may or may not have existed anyway in these
islands for the past fifty years or so. The vagueness about the reality of
this illusory entity stems from the very fact that I believe few actually
understand the same thing when they talk about theatre. Karl Schembri
himself refers to the “dearth of theatre in Malta.” A forgivable inaccuracy
to begin with – I believe that there is quite an adequate outpouring of
theatrical “stuff” on these little islands.
This is not only a distinction based on merit, quality or relevance and the
19 percent of the population quoted in Statistika 2000 as “going to the
theatre” obviously did not make any such distinctions either. Which is why I
would prefer to talk about “Maltese Theatre” rather than “theatre in Malta”,
because if we do talk about theatre in Malta one would, and must, give due
credit to a variety of institutions, old and new, which do indeed practise
the dramatic arts in Malta to the great enjoyment of the local population.
There is also a constant turnover of vital young blood which continues,
unabated and at a remarkably steady pace, to animate the theatrical scene
and which is proof enough that theatre is, in fact, in the blood of the
capable younger generations just as it was in the older ones. What one
however also has to agree to, is that theatre in the Maltese language,
theatre that speaks meaningfully to the people in their own tongue, is the
sad loser in the local theatrical scene.
So I feel duty bound to repeat what I have stated over and over again, which
is that today, getting close to half a century since Independence, we still
DO NOT have a Maltese theatre. What we do have are sporadic, flashes in the
pan by various (or is it the same?) authors who are given a rare occasion to
have their say and to make themselves heard every once in a while. But all
this sporadic fire does not a blaze amake. There is no consistent discourse
going on, there is no intelligent thought to follow through... there is no
steady adequate commentary on our times. Just the occasional hit or miss
ventures. So when the spokesman for the Manoel Theatre declares that we
cannot have this type of discourse:a) because “it is no longer
fashionable”(!) to have a national theatre company, and b) that we have a
problem with a lack of socially relevant work, I am for the millionth time
dumbfounded. Speechless! Where does one begin to answer such platitudes!
Such inventions, such... I’m speechless!
I, to make it clear from the start, believe that there is more than one way
to skin a cat... or a national theatre company. Such an entity (which by
the way is going strong in a number of... unfashionable countries, I
suppose!) could be only one of the possible cures to resurrect our theatre.
What the National Culture Policy does ask for and seeks to promulgate is a
national theatre which is “an authentic force to relate to society and its
contemporary realities”. Assuming that the Manoel Theatre is opting out of
this role, dedicating as it is in its commendable attempt to “attract
international coverage”, one cannot but ask, what could be the alternative?
What will fill the void – this black hole in our culture? Surely we are not
expected to satisfy ourselves with a single Maltese play each season, as
commissioned or approved by the Manoel Theatre? So whether it is called a
national theatre company, a national theatre project or a national theatre
enterprise... the Starship Enterprise! (going where no man has dared to go!)
does it matter? As long as it is national and as long as it is theatre, one
should not have any objection. ... Once established, once the momentum is
there, I can assure any theatre aficionados that there will be – (as there
already is on paper, if only we were allowed to stage it) – a relevant local
How can we give relevancy to a local audience if we decide to speak in a
foreign tongue, to foreign audiences about foreign... relevant topics(?), to
gain foreign lucre and (wishfully) foreign applause from foreign invited
critics or guests?
This colonial theatrical time warp carries a price. Any such “prestige” we
gain carries a price. A price to our dignity and identity.
The new national cultural policy already addresses these issues with
admirable insight and vision. All we need now is that such an enterprise be
allowed to take off. So would the few eager spectators under the launching
pad, gleefully awaiting a premature crash, please move back?
Letter to the Independent on Sunday,
THE NEED OF A CONTEMPORARY THEATRE
from U L-Anġlu Ħabbar... 1995
reflects a society that is going through the rapid development
which our society is going through today...
POST SCRIPTUM 2016 -
How things have changed in the Maltese Theatre scene... or not.
A THEATRE OF SHAME, A THEATRE OF FEAR
ANSEJTÀ U ANESTESIJA FIL-LABIRINTI TAT-TEATRIN
Diskors dwar demel u dramm
HEMM XI KRIŻI?"
Seminar organizzat mill-Università
Studji Teatrali fl-1997
is alive and well and
LIVING OFF-OFF MANOEL
A report in
the Sunday Times of Malta
on the Seminar held at the University of Malta
on March 1st, 1997
Teatrali f'Malta - Hemm xi Kriżi?"
F'DAN IL-BAĦĦ INPENETRABBLI TAT-TEATRU MALTI
inpenetrabbli tat-teatru Malti,
dan il-vojt imraqqa' bil-qargħa aħmar ta’ sforzi kultant
medjokri, kultant imqanżħin, kultant (rarament) tajbin, jispikka
n-nuqqas totali ta’ sforzi ġenwini u strutturati biex noħorġu
d-dramm Malti għall-beraħ....
ABOUT THEATRICAL COLONIAL TIME
WARPS AND THE PRICE WE PAY
Letter to the
Independent on Sunday,
Schembri and his admirable investigative contribution on “The
Dead Theatre Society”, may serve, if nothing else, to at least
postpone any early rushed post-mortem on the cause of the death
(or is it an imminent death?) of a an institution which may or
may not have existed anyway in these islands for the past fifty
years or so.
WHITEWASHING THE MANOEL
A letter to the Sunday
Times of Malta dated 24.09.02 in
which the playwright tries
to come to terms with the atrocious state of
artistic director of the Manoel Theatre
contemptuously writes off half a century
Maltese Theatre as simply "bad literature", ("friends of
friends", bla bla bla...) virtually accusing
writers of incompetence and nepotism... whilst the self same
local writers, won't even dare say boo!... so ... "Is
writing in Maltese nothing but a fool's game?
GĦAX HEMM PALK MALTI U HEMM PALK MALTI
Dwar konkorsi ta' drammi, nuqqas ta' xogħol
ta' drammaturġija, tqanċiċ, vanaglorja, u
nuqqas ta' trasparenza.
fil-MUMENT (Awissu 2002)
għandu jifhem... li x-xogħol ta' konkors għandu jibda
THE FLAG OF MALTESE THEATRE
harrumphing this historical year of our lives.
KWISTJONI TA' MASTURBAZZJONI
Sergio Grech dwar "Il-Palk Malti illum: Kwistjoni ta' masturbazzjoni?"
Intervista fuq IL-MUMENT,
THE CULTURAL CRINGE
The Times of Malta monthly
Taf jew ma
tafx tikteb: Għażla Ġenetika?
minn "KULTURA 21 " Jannar
DWAR IL-PALK MALTI LLUM (2002)
hija waħda mill-forom tal-kitba kreattiva li għad hemm fejn isir
progress kbir. L-imgħoddi reċenti, (minn wara s-Sittinjiet ‘l
hawn) juri li, għalkemm kien hemm aġġornament fl-istil kif ukoll
fil-kontenut li qarreb il-kittieba tagħna lejn dak li kien ilu li
beda jseħħ ‘ilhinn minn gżiritna, din il-qabża kbira ‘l
quddiem, xprunata ’l aktar bil-kitba ta’ Francis Ebejer...
tal-pubblikazzjoni "Il-Festa bil-Bandieri" - 2003
IR-RIVOLUZZJONI LI MHIX SE TIXXANDAR
The author’s manifesto, first published in 1972 with the
collection of plays "4 DRAMMI"