Ċens Perpetwu  


A black comedy in 2 acts for television



From the
 Screemplays edition 2015







 September, 1972

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"Ma jistax jistenna li nibqgħu għal dejjem marbutin miegħu,
naħlu ħajjitna nżommu lilu ħaj, waqt li aħna qed immutu... 
Kien jagħtina l-ħelsien!"






When ĊENS PERPETWU was written in 1970, it was originally presented to the then Drama Panel of MTV under the title of "Presente Cadavere" I recall the extreme pleasure with which this black comedy  was welcomed by the then Head of Programs,

The play called for the staging of a funerary scene in which the old politician being mourned was supposed to be put on display in the dilapidated apartment accommodation where he died - an accommodation which was now up for grabs. In a biting parody of the social and religious bigotry of the sixties,  the whole second act centered on the mechanizations and schemes which everyone who knew the old man attempted to come up with in order to capitalize on his death.  The culmination of the intrigue and chaos which ensues is the surrealistic ending in which the old politician apparently comes back to life...

One can presume that  what  seemed unfit to present on local TV in 1970 was the irreverent display of the casket of the dear departed politician...  The religious bigotry which permeates the play did not make matters any better.

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Act Two was thus re-written (twice) - omitting the presence of the offending casket... and the politician who would not die.

Since  the cadavere was no longer presente, the title was changed to Ċens Perpetwu which in the long run, seemed fitting enough and was retained when the play was published in 1972.

 Mannie Spiteri who informed me  that MTV would very much like to produce the play, noting the successful attempt that I had made at creating drama specifically for the "new" medium of television. 

Alas, it eventually transpired that some modifications might be needed in the ultra satirical second act after all...  because "the nature of the subject matter represented certain difficulties..."


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The play was first broadcast on the
on  the
12 th of  May, 1971
and was produced by

The cast included

Mario Philip Azzopardi (Fredu)
Joe Zammit Cordina 
Vitorin Galea 
John Dougal 
Josette Said 
Lino Grech 
George Attard 
Henry Zammit Cordina
Pawlu Mizzi 



Diċembru 1991


Indikazzjoni li l-iskript hu disponibbli

Nota dwar l-użu.



Inconceivable as it might seem, some fifty years after independence, Maltese theatre has not more than a few (less than a handful) of plays which one can positively identify as located and belonging to a pretty much specific decade of our recent history - only a couple plays can in fact be reliable sources as to what the Maltese experience of the recent past has in fact been. 

Contemporary Maltese Drama is in fact a contradiction in terms - a paradoxically inaccurate definition and misnomer.  More often than not you will find a new play which exists only in a fictitious Malta (and you assume it is Malta because characters have a Maltese name and speak Maltese!) - a Malta which occupies an ephemeral  time and space. Steeped in the colonialistically nurtured tradition of always harping back to a "glorious" historic past, our theatrical literary artists often seem to find easier courage in trying to delve in obscure, practically unverifiable and conjectural causes of the Maltese nation, mythologising the distant past that is conveniently unrelated to the present issues but for a tenuous documented paper path that is only meaningful to the few academically minded purveyors. It is by far easier to castigate and flagellate a couple of centuries old tyrannical power (be it temporal or spiritual) for the oppression of the Maltese people, than it is to narrow down the focus to the present and not too distant past.  or to try  to identify the sometimes still surviving witnesses of yesterday.  A meaningful PUBLIC, precise,  self -assessment has never been the strong point of the Maltese psyche. 

Looking back, I see Ċens Perpetwu as the first play that  I wrote which anticipates the type of plays I did eventually return back to in the Nineties with a series of three act plays for the stage.  They are basically naturalistic plays,  with a touch of the surreal. Above all, they are plays which spring naturally from the present day Maltese experience they aim at recreating -  the type of play which I believe will one day be the backbone of a true Maltese theatre which regretably seems to be fading further and further back in the conscious memory of our audiences  -  the type of play which could  give credibility and  recognition to a National theatre - a credibility and recognition which by and large the present theatrical entrepreneurs are only prepared to give to foreign drama.   

Ċens Perpetwu was the forefather of the plays that followed in the nineties, with Għasfur taċ-Ċomb bridging the gap between the seventies and the end of the century, whilst Il-Belliegħa fil-Bir, U l-Anġlu Ħabbar..., and Pawlu Redux span the last ten years of the 20th century, which is brought to a fitting conclusion with Il-Festa bil-Bandieri - an "olografu evokattiv" dedicated to "Malta Millennarja". 

January 2002



Scenes from 


A collage presentation 
by the graduating class of 2001 of
under the direction of 
Paul Portelli

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always in retrospect


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