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ABOUT THEATRICAL TIMEWARPS
AND THE PRICE WE PAY

Karl 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 theatre.

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, May 2002.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


THE NEED OF A CONTEMPORARY THEATRE   
 from U L-Anġlu Ħabbar... 1995
The need for a contemporary theatre, which reflects a society that is going through the rapid development which our society is going through today... (Read on.)

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

"IL-KITBA TEATRALI: HEMM XI KRIŻI?"
Seminar organizzat mill-Universit
à ta' Malta,
Studji Teatrali fl-1997

TEATRU MALT


Theatre 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 


"Il-Kitba Teatrali f'Malta -  Hemm xi Kriżi?"


F'DAN IL-BAĦĦ INPENETRABBLI TAT-TEATRU  MALTI  (2002)   

F’dan il-baħħ 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.... (kompli aqra)


ABOUT THEATRICAL COLONIAL TIME WARPS AND THE PRICE WE PAY  

Letter to the Independent on Sunday, May 2002.

"Karl 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. (Read on)


DEAD PLAYWRIGHTS REVISITED 

The Sunday Times of Malta
August 11, 2002


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 the local theatrical environment.  

...Given that the artistic director of the Manoel Theatre contemptuously  writes off half a century of writing for the Maltese Theatre as simply "bad literature", ("friends of friends", bla bla bla...)  virtually accusing all local 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.
Korrispondenza fil-MUMENT  (Awissu 2002)

"Wieħed għandu  jifhem... li x-xogħol ta' konkors għandu jibda wara li jitħabbru r-riżultati"


FLYING THE FLAG OF MALTESE THEATRE  

Revamping and harrumphing this historical  year of our lives.

J
UNE 2004


KWISTJONI TA' MASTURBAZZJONI  

Intervista minn Sergio Grech dwar "Il-Palk Malti illum:  Kwistjoni ta' masturbazzjoni?"

Intervista fuq IL-MUMENT, 2002


THE CULTURAL CRINGE   

The Times of Malta monthly Cultural Supplement.
MARCH 2003


GĦAŻLA ĠENETIKA  

Taf jew ma tafx tikteb: Għażla Ġenetika?
minn "KULTURA 21 " Jannar 2005
 



DWAR  IL-PALK MALTI  LLUM (2002)  

l
-kitba għall-palk bil-Malti
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... (kompli aqra)


IT-TFITTXIJA GĦALL-PALK MALTI 
mid-daħla tal-pubblikazzjoni "Il-Festa bil-Bandieri" - 2003


IR-RIVOLUZZJONI LI MHIX SE TIXXANDAR
Mid-daħla għal "Pawlu Redux" - 2004
 


MANIFEST '72   
The author’s manifesto, first published in 1972 with the collection of plays "4 DRAMMI"

 


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