Revisiting Holy Week

In the run up to Easter, Heritage Malta aims to breathe new life into Holy Week events.

A live re-enactment of the Last Supper was organised at The Inquisitor’s Palace in Birgu today.
A live re-enactment of the Last Supper was organised at The Inquisitor’s Palace in Birgu today.

A live re-enactment of the Last Supper was organised at The Inquisitor's Palace in Birgu last weekend, while an interactive theatre performance of The Passion of the Christ will take place between the Mnajdra and Hagar Qim temples over March 31 and April 1.

Speaking to MaltaToday, a representative of Heritage Malta said that the setting of The Passion of the Christ re-enactment was chosen in order to give visitors as evocative a feel of historical Jerusalem as possible.

"The aim is to have the audience directly involved in the activity, so as to make people feel as if they are part of the crowd that witnessed those historical events in Jerusalem."

The representative added that the specifically Maltese - or, at least, "Mediterranean" - atmosphere of the Hagar Qim environs will contribute to making the event palatable to a local audience.

"The typical Mediterranean landscape is characterised by rugged rocky outcrops and sparse vegetation, which gives off the wistful scent of wild thyme. The seaward view is dominated by the little island of Filfla, giving the whole setting a mystical atmosphere."

The audience cap of 150 means that the actors will be interacting directly with visitors during both events - which, according to the organisers, is an integral part of their new take on these traditional events.

Speaking to MaltaToday, Malta's Ambassador to Tunisia and Associate Professor of Theatre Studies at the University of Malta saw Heritage Malta's events as being a welcome extension of a long tradition.

"Good Friday and Easter Week happenings are very much part of Maltese cultural events, and since the 60s the amount of pageantry in the Good Friday procession has grown amazingly, from the initial eight obligatory stautes," Cremona said.

Cremona also added that the events have a clear 'theatrical' structure, which does not only exist to be appreciated by believers but that could also be enjoyed by secular viewers.

"It is only the way in which they are perceived which distinguishes believers from non-believers. It is like watching the Baris temple dance in Bali: I, who am not initiated into that sort of belief, watch it as a beautiful dance.

A Balinese will watch it as a religious process. The key moment is when both I and the Balinese, with our different perspectives, feel that something beyond the event is going on within us, something that is making us reach out to beyond ourselves, in community with the other watchers," Cremona said.