PALK MALTI KONTEMPORANJU
INPENETRABBLI TAT-TEATRU MALTI
F’dan il-baħħ inpenetrabbli tat-teatru
dan il-vojt imraqqa' bil-qargħ’aħmar ta’ sforzi kultant medjokri,
kultant imqanżħin, kultant (rarament) tajbin, jispikka
Letter to the Independent on Sunday, May 2002.
In his extremely positive assessment
of a recent local production in English (22.09.02), Victor Fenech
concludes by making what I conclude must be an ill-considered remark on the
current polemic concerning the now endemic poor state of the Maltese Theatre
as far as the production of new plays in Maltese are concerned. Like so many
others have done in the past and like so many more find it convenient to do, he
assumes that because our extremely gifted and extremely active local
theatrical scene has been doing so well outside the sphere of the Manoel
Theatre, then there is nothing wrong with theatre in Malta. Back in
1997, in this very paper, I wrote an article entitled
“Theatre in Malta is alive and
well and living Off Off Manoel”.
So now I go on record once again to confirm that what the local theatrical
scene by and large does produce is more than worthy of the eulogies that
Victor Fenech gives it. However, one cannot absolve whoever else is
responsible for failing to proactively support local Maltese playwrights!
The endemic dearth of productions of new original Maltese plays is a
disgrace that would shame any self-respecting culture. This is fact, not
If Victor Fenech does not feel offended when the artistic director of the Manoel Theatre states that Maltese theatre literature is simply bad literature supported by friends of friends – a statement which contemptuously writes off half a century of past and current achievements – then I must admit that there really is little hope to expect any change for the better. Even more so, when other writers who have themselves been so summarily dismissed do not bother to speak up and demand an explanation. Victor Fenech’s statement and nonchalant attitude hurt me more because it was precisely this uniquely gifted poet and gentleman who, back in the late sixties, first inspired me to start writing primarily in Maltese, at a time when my first ventures in writing were in English.
If his diagnosis of the causes behind the polemic on the moribund state of Maltese playwrighting is in fact to be accepted, it would be ironic (if not poetic justice) that I would finally come to conclude that writing in Maltese is in fact a fool’s game and deserves all the invectives it gets. The recognition of the Maltese language within the European Community would then indeed be more a cause for shame than pride.
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