50 Years of Playwriting in Malta

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What is a writer's theatre?

  A playwright's view about theatre in Malta  

Ċens Perpetwu - National Drama Centre, 2007.






Recent media interest in local theatre unfortunately seems unable to focus on what to a playwright seems the most obvious aspect of this vital part of our culture: Maltese indigenous drama. Though historically the Maltese language is extremely young and it should not therefore come as any surprise that Maltese playwriting is still basically in its infancy... nonetheless, a  European Malta can take its rightful place within the Union with some pride due its otherwise respectable cultural accomplishments. This notwithstanding, it is appalling to assert, going on to fifty years of Independence that our “established‘ Maltese theatre season bears all the trappings of a colonial hangover.  A Maltese drama season is still a concept that does not even enter the minds of our cultural powers-that-be. 

National Cultural Policies notwithstanding, we flounder on regurgitating foreign drama.

Like other colonialistically handicapped cultures, we too suffer the cultural cringe that castrates any attempts at self-assertion and self-exploration. A culture that does not know itself is seriously handicapped. At this rate we cannot expect to break new ground or go beyond the boundaries in which we blissfully hibernate.

Paradoxically, there was more indigenous meaningful original drama thirty years ago than there is now. Pluralism has given us quantity and opportunity but definitely not quality. Theatre, drama as an art form, as a way of life, escapes many would be a participant who handles well the craft, but not the art.  The status quo is a recipe for self-indulgence.  Is anybody listening?

The Cultural Supplement
 March 7, 2003


What is a writer's theatre?

A writer's theatre, "a place where the dramatist is acknowledged as the fundamental creative
force and where the play is more important than the actors, the director, the designer"
George Devine*

Addendum: ...and more important than the playwright himself.


*George Devine, the first artistic director of the English Stage Company and the man
who chose John Osborne's Look Back in Anger for its opening season in 1956.


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