KILLING THE RADIO STAR
latest works that Oreste Calleja presents in this month's collection of
plays, the fourth in so many months, offer his readers two radio dramas.
The first one is 'Għażiż Angelo', described a an intermezzo, or
rather a composition (in the musical sense) for radio, while the second
one is 'Skużi ta'', which is in fact a translation of sorts of
his original radio comedy,
'Excuse me, are those your eyes?'.
Like so many of his contemporaries,
before tackling the stage and television Calleja knew his beginning in
the local drama scene with writings for radio, a most popular and rich
culture which for many decades was the mainstay of all post-war original
Maltese drama and a unique consistent outlet for all dramatists. It was
a time when playwrights flourished and were nurtured - a time when a
radioplay competition could see as many as
sixty entries annually.
Radio - someone still loves you
Angelo' is a chronicle of a young girl's journey out of isolation
and her first ventures into the alluring welcome of a first love as
reported in her intimate diary. It is staged against a comfortable
middle class backdrop of alienated adults and a solitary and recluse
sage, himself accustomed to perpetual isolation, from which she can only
been torn free by a ghost (forever present in her thoughts but never
heard): a beloved pen fiend who has come to visit. Could he be the means
to escape from her solitude and isolated cocoon or the first tearful and
irreversible rupture from innocence and the crystallization that perhaps
life is a useless passion?
Calleja plays out his theme to the accompaniment of piano music, the one
sole crutch that has thus far brought our heroine to her angstful
present. And yet now music represents the false hope and broken promises
which have littering the way of the music exams Calvary that has brought
her from childhood to adulthood.
'Excuse me, are those your eyes?' is capriciously translated by
Calleja as 'Skużi ta, dawk għajnejk f'wiċċek?'. In tune with the musical
connotations present in 'Angelo' it comes labeled as a 'scherzo' which
sets the tone for this satirical foray into the ever-present language
limbo and quixotic mores of the local scene aboard a bumpy bus ride.
Originally in English with a spattering of indigenous Maltese, the
comedy is thus transformed into an conflagration of predominant
indigenous English with a spattering of Maltese – mostly in the cues,
directions and sound effects. How else can one translate the current
linguistic melange that is contemporary spoken Maltese? Besides, when
the series of exasperating events occur on a stretch of road in a
heterogeneous tourist-infested mecca on our shores, it is perhaps to be
expected. More than a translation, Calleja looks at this lighthearted
work as a calligrammatesque, impressionistic and acoustic rendering of what
we Maltese sound like to each other. Perhaps the question in the title
should not be 'Excuse me, are those your eyes?' but 'Who are you (we),
gone too far.
The lamentable but
irreversible death of radio drama at the end of the last century left a
big gap in the creative dramatic works field and the loss of many a good
writer. To those who remember the good old days (sic) of pictureless
drama, the local theatre or the television writers counterparts of today
never seem to get close enough to the level of ingenuity, consistency
and faithful audiences that the practitioners of radio drama were
blessed with in the golden years of Rediffusion. And yet there is no
going back, you see:
in my mind and in my car,
can't rewind, we've gone too far
But Calleja's next work in production is, paradoxically enough, a
screenplay – in fact the fourth volume in his series 'Ix-Xeneġġjaturi',
following Skart, 3 Siltiet and Għasfur taċ-Ċomb,
released during the past 3 months. The lyrics may well say 'pictures
came and broke your heart', but who knows, video might yet prove to be
he resurrection needed for the local theatre scene. In the meantime,
radio echoes on within the pages of 'Għażiż Angelo' and along the
bumpy road of 'Skużi ta.''
Queen - Radio Ga Ga
The Buggles – Video Killed
the Radio Star.
2016 — ISBN: