for a Contemporary Theatre
in this our neutral*, neutered, sterile
nation - at least as evidenced by our theatres today.
First published as
a postscript to the play
And yet, if the
audience does laugh, it is the of laughter that comes from having to
compensate for the bare, senseless panorama by which we are
surrounded, the laughter that seeks to escape the embarrassing
scenes (of our lives) that the audience is forced to assist to.
Which is why there are those who find it more comfortable to try and
seek what a foreign stage, far away from our shores, has to offer..
And yet, if needs be,
we shouldn’t give a .... about what’s happening in the
well-established theatres of Europe or America. It is time we
decided what we ourselves should be doing. If we still want and
prefer the comfort of foreign dramatic stereotypes – which are
indeed comfortable because they just might interest us and provide
some universal appeal, since we too are part of the human race and
yet they fail to appeal to us Maltese more particularly – ...
if we still seek this comfort, then we are still languishing in the
cultural inertia which we have always espoused.
Because we need a more particular theatre, a theatre with a more
direct appeal. And regardless of the craft and skill that foreign
dramas offer, they never have the direct bearing, nor the more
focused intent that is needed to recreate the particular Maltese
environment we inhabit – our experience. They
always fail to wake us out of the comfortable anesthesia of our teatrin,
in order to discover the uncomfortable anxiety that a contemporary
theatre can offer.
It is wrong to believe that, simply because Malta is geographically
small, this inevitable means that the Maltese experience is
therefore unable to elicit a universal, relevant artistic
expression. (Does this
The richness that is Malta and its ancient people lies beneath the
strata and sub-strata of our culture, a richness that has never been
allowed to see the light of day of the relevant Maltese Theatre.
For a writer who wants to commit himself to this endeavour, the
prime resources are already at hand, the horizons are limitless, the
journey is at its beginning.
But such a writer has
to go it alone in our present environment.
(At least in this
overcrowded land of ours, where everybody wants to know where you’re
going, and yet everybody assumes he knows where you’ve been... and
nobody cares to see you set off, in any case.)
In the meantime, we’d rather commit ourselves to discuss... what MIGHT be
done sometime who knows when (who cares anyway!). Until the day will
come when contemporary drama, the undiscovered new plays of today,
end up getting older and older, until they becomes History, even
better, they becomes FOLKLORE. And then maybe, they becomes
comfortable (to stage). But by then, the need for a contemporary
theatre, which reflects a society that is going through the rapid
development which our society is going through today (bla
bla bla see above, first line, first paragraph...) by then, this
need for a contemporary, relevant theatre will remain, still, the
subject of a discussion, detached and separate from the life and
history of this our neutral, neutered and sterile nation. At
least, as evidenced by our theatres today.
in 1995, this
reference to neutrality has now been effectively... neutered
by Malta's accession to the EU in 2004.
POST SCRIPTUM 2016
A THEATRE OF SHAME, A THEATRE
Malti: kemm remah ’il bogħod jew kemm żvija. Jew kemm drammaturgi sakkru
l-kexxun u rmew iċ-ċavetta darba għal dejjem.
Snin wara armajn, ta’ min wieħed jirrevedi dan id-diskors
dwar id-drammaturgu Malti?... Kieku jkun tajjeb li meta forsi jinstab xi ħadd li
għadu jinteressah f’dana kollu, naraw nistgħux niġbdu xi ftit konklużjonijiet li
jitfgħu ftit dawl, jew tal-anqas jingħata riassunt ta’ kif inbidlu
l-affarijiet, jekk inbidlu, mill-punt di vista tad-
Daħla li għamilt għax-xahar ta’ Ġunju (2016) fil-blog tiegħi,
forsi tirrefletti tajjeb dawn l-istess sentimenti:
“Si scrivono ancora commedie,
ma con vergogna o con paura”
I was struck by an article in
(February 2016) by Fabrizio Sebastian Caleffi* which brought to mind an article
I wrote some years ago about what eventually became Sunday paper correspondence
Dead Playwrights Revisited,
a rare moment of introspection for a very limited few about the state of
playwrighting and Maltese theatre, at a time when theatre in Malta required the
perennial infusion of new blood. That, of course, no longer raises the blood
pressure of our new generation of scribes.
As Caleffi puts it:
“Cinquantaquattro anni dopo, The Cat on a Hot Tin Roof scotta ancora o ė cotta
e, se é cotta, di chi?”
And to quote another volley by Caleffi:
“Quanti fantasmi circondano I’autore drammatico italiano? (...) il fantasma di
Pirandello, che schiaccia i suoi continuatori... il fantasma della critica
letteraria, col suo disprezzo pel teatro, il fantasma della critica teatrale,
con la sua religione della struttura, dell’interesse, del ritmo... il fantasma
del provincialismo per i cosmopoliti, il fantasma del bozzettismo per i
regionali e i popolareschi... Che fare?”
It would be interesting to elicit a translation (in English or Maltese) which
however puts all this in the context of Maltese theatre or theatre in Malta
today. And more to the point, in the context of playwrighting in Malta today.
*Fabrizio Sebastian Caleffi, (April/June 2016),
‘Tennessee William Shakespeare’, HYSTRIO (XXIX - 2/2016), p.20.
OC. Ġunju 2016