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Kummiedja Sewda f'Żewġ Atti


   Ħadu sehem:  Mario Philip Azzopardi (Fredu) Joe   Zammit Cordina (Fonzu) Vitorin Galea (Roża) John Dougal (Ix-Xiħ)
Josette Said (Kathy), Lino Grech (Ħu ix-Xiħ), George Attard (Ossy), Henry Zammit Cordina (Tifel), Pawlu Mizzi (Kappillan)



Photos by Larry Calleja      




Ċens Perpetwu għadda minn diversi fażi ta'... adattament  minn meta tressaq l-ewwel darba bl'isem "Presente Cadavere" għand il-Kap tal-Programmi tal-MTV (Mannie Spiteri) f'Mejju tal-1970 sakemm wasal fuq l-iskrijn tat-televiżjoni tal-MTV.f'Mejju tas-sena ta' wara.

Għalkemm milqugħ tajjeb ħafna fil-bidu mill-ewwel deher li "in-natura tas-suġġett kienet toħloq ċerti diffikultajiet".  Wara laqgħa ta' diskussjoni u sottomissjoni oħra tad-dramm "ikkoreġut" f'Awissu tal-1970 id-dramm ġie saflaħħar aċċettat għax-xandir f'Jannar tal-1971 mid-Drama Panel.

Madankollu ma kienx biss l-isem tad-dramm li nbidel iżda kwazi i t-tieni att kollu kemm hu. Id-diffikultajiet li d-dramm kien jirrapreżenta kienu esssenzjalment kwistjonijiet li fiż-żminijiet ta' llum kienu jitqiesu bħala ċensura bla rażan.

Ezempju, id-dell ikrah li seta' jintefa fuq kwistjonijiet ta' reliġjon kif ukoll politika. Biex ma nsemmmux ukoll il-preżenza kontinwa  u "indeċenti" ta' sepulkru f'nofs ix-xena meqjusa bħala irreverenti, aktar u  aktar meta il-katavru jirxoxta mirakolużament. Imma dawk kienu żminjiet u raġunamenti oħra. 

Kienu wkoll esperjezi imprezzabbli għal kittieb żagħżugħ għadu kemm jibda. Fil-fatt ix-xogħol kollu ta' kitba li ntefa' fuq dan l-ewwel teledramm wassal biex inħoloq dramm mhux biss b'żewg titli diufferenti imma wkoll bi tliet verżjonijiet differenti tat-tieni att.  Il-verżjoni finali kif ippubblikata hija infatti bbażata fuq il-verżjoni originali intiera b'xi żidiet kemmxejn aktar "liberi" fejn jolqtu aktar fil-laħam il-ħaj is-soċjeta' Maltija ta' dawk iż-żminijiet.





There was a time when teleplays were recorded and transmitted live. There waa a time teleplays were the kings of programming. There was a time local drama and writers formed a nucleus of artistic force to be reckoned with.  Some of the pictures shown here from Ċens Perpetwu also reveal the crews and actors at work in the studios where a set has been built to order. 

External filming was not the norm but a purposeful luxury built in the screenplay with a budget in mind. Two articles from Gwida on the tenth anniversay of MTV paint a clear picture of that golden age.







ĊENS PERPETWU was written in 1970, it was originally presented to the then Drama Panel of MTV under the title of "Presente Cadavere". I recall the extreme pleasure with which this black comedy  was welcomed by the then Head of Programs, Mannie Spiteri who informed me that MTV would very much like to produce the play, noting the successful attempt that I had made at creating drama specifically for the "new" medium of television. 

Alas, it eventually transpired that some modifications might be needed in the ultra satirical second act after all...  because "the nature of the subject matter represented certain difficulties."

The play called for the staging of a funerary scene in which the old politician being mourned was supposed to be put on display in the dilapidated apartment accommodation where he died - an accommodation which was now up for grabs. In a biting parody of the social and religious bigotry of the Sixties,  the whole second act centered on the mechanizations and schemes which everyone who knew the old man attempted to come up with in order to capitalize on his death.  The culmination of the intrigue and chaos which ensues is the surrealistic ending in which the old politician apparently comes back to life...

Ostensibly one can presume that  what  seemed unfit to present on local TV in 1970 was the irreverent display of the casket of the dear departed politician.  The religious bigotry which permeates the play did not make matters any better.

Act Two was thus re-written (twice) - omitting the presence of the offending casket... and the politician who would not die.

Since  the cadavere was no longer presente, the title was changed to Ċens Perpetwu which in the long run, seemed fitting enough and was retained when the play was published in 1972.



     INTERVISTA mal-awtur - ĊENS PERPETWU "L-EKU" - Diċembru 1991


A collage presentation of
4 DRAMMI by the
MTADA graduating class
under the direction of 
Paul Portelli



IN RETROSPECT, always in retrospect

Inconceivable as it might seem, some fifty years after independence, Maltese theatre has not more than a few (less than a handful) of plays which one can positively identify as located and belonging to a pretty much specific decade of our recent history - only a couple plays can in fact be reliable sources as to what the Maltese experience of the recent past has in fact been.

Contemporary Maltese Drama is in fact a contradiction in terms - a paradoxically inaccurate definition and misnomer. More often than not you will find a new play which exists only in a fictitious Malta (and you assume it is Malta because characters have a Maltese name and speak Maltese!) - a Malta which occupies an ephemeral time and space. Steeped in the colonialistically nurtured tradition of always harping back to a "glorious" historic past, our theatrical literary artists often seem to find easier courage in trying to delve in obscure, practically unverifiable and conjectural causes of the Maltese nation, mythologising the distant past that is conveniently unrelated to the present issues but for a tenuous documented paper path that is only meaningful to the few academically minded purveyors. It is by far easier to castigate and flagellate a couple of centuries old tyrannical power (be it temporal or spiritual) for the oppression of the Maltese people, than it is to narrow down the focus to the present and not too distant past. or to try to identify the sometimes still surviving witnesses of yesterday. A meaningful PUBLIC, precise, self -assessment has never been the strong point of the Maltese psyche.

Looking back, I see Ċens Perpetwu as the first play that I wrote which anticipates the type of plays I did eventually return back to in the Nineties with a series of three act plays for the stage. They are basically naturalistic plays, with a touch of the surreal. Above all, they are plays which spring naturally from the present day Maltese experience they aim at recreating - the type of play which I believe will one day be the backbone of a true Maltese theatre which regretably seems to be fading further and further back in the conscious memory of our audiences - the type of play which could give credibility and recognition to a National theatre - a credibility and recognition which by and large the present theatrical entrepreneurs are only prepared to give to foreign drama.

Ċens Perpetwu was the forefather of the plays that followed in the nineties, with Għasfur taċ-Ċomb bridging the gap between the seventies and the end of the century, whilst Il-Belliegħa fil-Bir, U l-Anġlu Ħabbar..., and Pawlu Redux span the last ten years of the 20th century, which is brought to a fitting conclusion with Il-Festa bil-Bandieri - an "olografu evokattiv" dedicated to "Malta Millennarja".
January 2002



Script from the

edition 2