POST MORTEM OF ANESTESIJA
WHILE the rest of the family quarreled and debated whether it should be the RAI 'Secondo' or the national, MTV were screening what should prove as the most controversial play ever put on — "Anestesija" by Oreste Calleja who seems to have the knack of attracting public reaction.
I have no doubt whatsoever that "Anestesija" was never intended to retain the same TV audiences attributed to the more conventional works shown on the small screen, but the very negative public reaction that has en-sued can only be described as 'bitter disappointment.
One friend of mine asked: Was this a play in the "Theatre - of - the - absurd'* mould, or was it an absurd play?
The sure thing is that modern Maltese drama received a severe slap in the face when it should have in fact moved one step nearer to acceptance by the general public.
Oreste Calleja has a good pen, an effective one at that, and his main handicap at the moment seems to be the present mentality of the average Maltese televiewer. It is actually the same situation facing the cinema where the silly 'Carry on' stuff would overwhelm productions like "The Arrangement" and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf" in the number of Oscar wins if the majoraty of Maltese picture-goers were anything to go by. Fellini, of course, remains an 'unknown' mystery...
Wednesday's play on MTV proved one thing: that what-ever the standard of acting, production and direction it is always the story that wins over the televiewers.
Albert Marshall, for example, whomproduced and directed "Anestesija", should be commended for his imaginative approach to the whole thing.
John Suda, as the clown, and Catherine Barolo Polis. as the boy, both came out with flying colors, while Joe Zammit Cordina provided the required irony to the whole set-up with his 'bumpy' acting this fitted his role.
All in all, however, this was an experiment that misfired because it occurred at an inopportune time and the accusing finger should not be pointed at either the author/cast or the public.
It is now up to the literary circle on the Island and the educators to pave the way for a more balanced relation between author and audience especially in the case of modern drama. MTV should not stumble in its way to provide airtime to similar productions, but let the "Anestesija"s of the future to capture the 'reluctant' audiences through a systematized series of teleplays catering for every taste.
Perhaps a serious debate between the author and persons connected with the theatre immediately after the screening of such works, would help instill the right in-sight into televiewers.
THE MALTA NEWS - Sunday SEPTEMBER 30th, 1972