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Thursday, 8 September 2016


L-ewwel dramm ippremjat fl-ewwel Konkors Francis Ebejer

Friday, 3 June 2016

Si scrivono ancora commedie, 

ma con vergogna o con paura”

                                                                                                                                                      Ruggero Jacobbi

We still write plays, but in shame or with fear

Was struck by an article in Hystrio (February 2016)  by Fabrizio Sebastian Caleffi* which brought to mind an article I wrote some years ago about what eventually became Sunday paper correspondence fodder regarding Dead Playwrights Revisited,  a rare moment of introspection for a very limited few about the state of playwrighting and Maltese theatre, 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 it in the context of Maltese theatre or theatre in Malta.  And more to the point, in the context of playwrighting in Malta today.

*HYSTRIO (Anno XXIX - 2/2016) 
Tennessee William Shakespeare’ by Fabrizio Sebastian Caleffi

Friday, 22 April 2016



can still make it to your TV Channel.

Maltese Theatre Blog Oreste  Calleja

Of course, it does take a Cable Channel like ARTE and the daring of the Comédie-Française to have the guts to aim thus high. But then, they might already have an audience that expects as much.

Friday, 15 April 2016


"The question is so absurd that we need not only answer it but find out why it's being asked as well. Most simply put: plays, the good ones, at any rate, the only ones that matter, are literature, and while they are accessible to most people through performance, they are complete experiences without it...
God help us all!
...Still, I am convinced that the following is true: no performance can make a great play any better than it is, and most performances are inadequate either in that the minds at work are just not up to the task, no matter how sincerely they try, or the stagers are aggressively interested in "interpretation" or "concept" with the result that our experience of the play, as an audience, is limited, is only partial.

Further--and not oddly--performance can make a minor (or terrible) play seem a lot better than it is. Performance can also, of course, make a bad play seem even worse than it is. God help us all!"
Edward Albee
Uncovering the author's voice


Edward Albee's insights into play reading brought to my mind my early days of playwriting. Looking back now I realize that while indeed I did have the great disadvantage(?) of living in a non-digital age, it was still a time when radio and  television reigned  supreme and I was exposed to, and avidly followed, a deluge of great plays, from continental masters like Ionesco, Pinter, Becket, Sarte, Betti, Pirandello, Strindberg, Ibsen, Genet, Chekov, Anouilh, Durrenmatt, Havel,    et al - all played with supreme mastery by British and Italian artists - to the American masterpieces of Thornton Wilder, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams and Edward Albee, to name but a few.

RAI TV was a cultural gold mine, both on the single (yes ONE) channel in BW, as well as radio.  The BBC World Service came a close second with a constant supply of great radio drama (Osborne, Pinter, the late Arnold Wesker, Stoppard). What else could a budding playwright ask for?  Well, there was also the cinema, where the likes of Fellini, Pasolini,  Bergman, Truffaut and Russell reigned supreme.  Truly a time that no matter what advances the digital age has still in store, it will be hard put to equal in quality, constancy and depth. So there it is, you missed out, brother. No matter how many channels you flip, your TV will leave you hungry.

And yet, even if all these sources no longer exist today, no playwright worth his salt could dream of not hitting the written works of these past masters (as well as contemporary ones). Trying to sit down and write a play without having even at least read the past and present  masters (much less watched their works), is like  trying to compose music when you have only listened to Rap.

Reading plays does indeed have great merits and not just for a casual devotee. Because - as Albee puts it so well:

  •  "Is seeing these plays in performance a different experience than seeing them through reading them? Of course. Is it a more complete, more fulfilling experience? No, I don't think so."

I don’t think so, either.

But then, I can only convince you if you do sit down to read plays.  And if you find them dull, if your experience is not fulfilling, then indeed, go back to listening to Rap. Or go do what floats your boat best  –  in any case:

“Apply yourself, fool, you can live out yo dreams, too
Imagination can create the truth.
                                                                                               Stolen - Curren$y                                      


Maltese Theatre Oreste Calleja
                                   Għasfur taċ-Ċomb                        Għażiż Angelo