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Theatre censorship set to be a thing of the past

Amendment to censorship law transfers matters related to film and theatre from police to Ministry for Culture.

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic
17 October 2012, 12:00am
Photo from an Off-Broadway production of Stitching. Banned in Malta in 2009, the play was staged with a ‘14’ rating in the UK.
Photo from an Off-Broadway production of Stitching. Banned in Malta in 2009, the play was staged with a ‘14’ rating in the UK.
Though the death of theatre censorship as we know it was signalled by Minister for Culture Mario de Marco as early as January, the long-awaited decision to strip the Police of all matters related to classification of film and theatre was finally passed in its second reading in parliament yesterday, which signifies broad agreement on its contents from both sides of the House.

The act officialises a proposal to transfer all laws regulating the classification of film and theatre productions from the Police to the Ministry for Culture.

The move comes in the wake of an often-torturous censorship debate which was sparked more than once on the island over the last couple of years, impacting more than just the theatrical scene.

Pia Zammit and Mikhail Basmadjan in Stitching

Pia Zammit and Mikhail Basmadjan

It was the landmark 'Stitching' case that brought the issue to public attention, however, after local drama company Unifaun Theatre attempted to stage the UK drama - penned by Anthony Nielson, and staged in Edinburgh with a '14' rating - in 2009, only to be banned by the Film and Classification Board at the time.

READ MORE: Censored no more – what is the future of Maltese theatre?

The Board itself has since been dissolved in favour of a system of self-regulation - as proposed by de Marco in the original draft law calling for a relaxation on censorship laws - however this particular proposal remains to be formalised.

Unifaun Theatre founder and producer Adrian Buckle has vowed he will stage Stitching once the censorship laws are officially relaxed. The play will feature Pia Zammit and Mikhal Basmadjan who will be portraying the disintegrating relationship at the core of the play.

Actress Pia Zammit expressed disappointment about having to justify the play in front of the censorship board. However, she welcomed the news and said that it might just signal a change in the way culture is perceived by government.

"I feel that for once we are being listened to and that 'culture' is not an unknown word or factor any more. People have woken up to the fact that it is of utmost importance in a society. Toni Attard, Caldon Mercieca [Creative Economy Advisors] and Mario de Marco are all people who have worked their asses off to make things happen. They need a national holiday each," Zammit said.

In a recent interview in MaltaToday, the productions director Chris Gatt said that Stitching will definitely happen. As to the reaction [from the audience]... well, what I hope is that people will come in thinking one thing and then realise it was very much a case of much ado about nothing."

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic is MaltaToday's culture editor and film critic. He joined t...
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Manuel Scicluna
Malta, SLOWLY, catches up with the rest of the world. Now we're only 200 years behind everybody else.
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Please note that this article is incorrect as the Bill has not become law, and has merely passed to the consideration of the Committee for the Consideration of Bills, as will be apparent from listening to Parliamentary session of October 16th 2012: http://www.parlament.mt/sittingdetails?sid=1059&l=1&legcat=7&forcat=12
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Monique Vella
Iva! Waslet l-elezzjoni. Bzar. akgar bzar, u aktar u aktar bzar.
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Please note that this article is incorrect as the Bill has not become law, and has merely passed to the consideration of the Committee for the Consideration of Bills, as will be apparent from listening to Parliamentary session of October 16th 2012: http://www.parlament.mt/sittingdetails?sid=1059&l=1&legcat=7&forcat=12