Għażiż Angelo

The Theatre of


Għażiż Angelo” - Oreste Calleja2016       

ISBN: 978-99957-884-3-8
Hardback -  102 pp

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ISBN: 978-99957-884-7-6


     The latest works that Oreste Calleja presents in this month's collection of plays, the fourth in so many months, offer his readers two radio dramas. The first one is 'Għażiż Angelo', described a an intermezzo, or rather a composition (in the musical sense) for radio, while the second one is 'Skużi ta'', which is in fact a translation of sorts of his original radio comedy, 'Excuse me, are those your eyes?'.

   Like so many of his contemporaries, before tackling the stage and television Calleja knew his beginning in the local drama scene with writings for radio, a most popular and rich culture which for many decades was the mainstay of all post-war original Maltese drama and a unique consistent outlet for all dramatists. It was a time when playwrights flourished and were nurtured - a time when a radioplay competition could see as many as sixty entries annually.

Radio - someone still loves you [1]

  'Għażiż Angelo' is a chronicle of a young girl's journey out of isolation and her first ventures into the alluring welcome of a first love as reported in her intimate diary. It is staged against a comfortable middle class backdrop of alienated adults and a solitary and recluse sage, himself accustomed to perpetual isolation, from which she can only been torn free by a ghost (forever present in her thoughts but never heard): a beloved pen fiend who has come to visit. Could he be the means to escape from her solitude and isolated cocoon or the first tearful and irreversible rupture from innocence and the crystallization that perhaps life is a useless passion?

   Calleja plays out his theme to the accompaniment of piano music, the one sole crutch that has thus far brought our heroine to her angstful present. And yet now music represents the false hope and broken promises which have littering the way of the music exams Calvary that has brought her from childhood to adulthood.

   'Excuse me, are those your eyes?' is capriciously translated by Calleja as 'Skużi ta, dawk għajnejk f'wiċċek?'. In tune with the musical connotations present in 'Angelo' it comes labeled as a 'scherzo' which sets the tone for this satirical foray into the ever-present language limbo and quixotic mores of the local scene aboard a bumpy bus ride. Originally in English with a spattering of indigenous Maltese, the comedy is thus transformed into an conflagration of predominant indigenous English with a spattering of Maltese – mostly in the cues, directions and sound effects. How else can one translate the current linguistic melange that is contemporary spoken Maltese? Besides, when the series of exasperating events occur on a stretch of road in a heterogeneous tourist-infested mecca on our shores, it is perhaps to be expected. More than a translation, Calleja looks at this lighthearted work as a calligrammatesque, impressionistic and acoustic rendering of what we Maltese sound like to each other. Perhaps the question in the title should not be 'Excuse me, are those your eyes?' but 'Who are you (we), really?'.

We've gone too far.

   The lamentable but irreversible death of radio drama at the end of the last century left a big gap in the creative dramatic works field and the loss of many a good writer. To those who remember the good old days (sic) of pictureless drama, the local theatre or the television writers counterparts of today never seem to get close enough to the level of ingenuity, consistency and faithful audiences that the practitioners of radio drama were blessed with in the golden years of Rediffusion. And yet there is no going back, you see:

 It's in my mind and in my car,
We can't rewind, we've gone too far
Too far!

   Perhaps. But Calleja's next work in production is, paradoxically enough, a screenplay – in fact the fourth volume in his series 'Ix-Xeneġġjaturi', following Skart, 3 Siltiet and Għasfur taċ-Ċomb, released during the past 3 months. The lyrics may well say 'pictures came and broke your heart', but who knows, video might yet prove to be he resurrection needed for the local theatre scene. In the meantime, radio echoes on within the pages of 'Għażiż Angelo' and along the bumpy road of 'Skużi ta.''

[1] Queen - Radio Ga Ga
[2] The Buggles – Video Killed the Radio Star.     

         'Għażiż Angelo' Oreste Calleja 2016 — ISBN: 978-99957-884-3-8     




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