Winners of 'Premju Francis Ebejer' announced

Structural changes announced to help further local writers.

This year’s ‘Premju Francis Ebejer’, a prestigious literary prize, was awarded to 25 year-old Leanne Ellul and Vincent Vella. With her work ‘Ma Rridx Immur’, Leanne Ellul won the ‘Writing for the Theatre’ category, while Vella’s “Fuq il-Bjut” won him the honour in the ‘Writing of Radio Plays’ category. There were no entries submitted for the category ‘Writing for the theatre for children and teens’. 

The winners were chosen from a total of 17 scripts. 

Premju Francis Ebejer is considered as an important opportunity for writers to aim higher and work to renew Maltese theatre. The award for best plays is not merely financial but the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts (MCCA), which organises the Premju, also offers support for the winning scripts in all the categories to be produced and published. A call for the production of this year’s winning scripts is currently open. 

The chairman of this year’s judging panel was Dr Immanuel Mifsud; Prof Mary Darmanin was vice-chair while Simon Bartolo, Dr Norbert Bugeja and Liliana Portelli were members.

In last year’s edition, Malcolm Galea was the winner of the award for best script for children and teens, with the play Id-Dlam taħt it-Teatru. The prize for radioplays was awarded to Prof Joe Friggieri, for his work Kwadri minn Wirja. Anthony Portelli was awarded second prize for his radioplay Lippu ‘id-Doggi’. In the theatre scriptwriting category, which received seven entries, the jury did not feel that the  required level had been reached.

This year, which also coincides with the 20th anniversary of the death of Francis Ebejer, the MCCA will be announcing the restructuring of the Premju to address the fact that often, in the past few years, the submitted scripts did not reach the required level. Through this restructuring, the Premju aims to not only provide an incentive for writers to submit relevant and high-calibre works but also to contribute directly to the development of writers and their works.

Among the changes, it is planned that the competition will be held once every two years instead of annually. The funds of the year when the competition is not held will be used to organise training schemes which will be open to all those wishing to improve the quality of their writing for theatre.

Francis Ebejer (1925-1993) is remembered for his lively and avantgarde style of writing. This left a strong impact on his audiences and helped Maltese theatre to make a leap ahead. In the sixties and seventies, the writer experienced the tensions which Maltese society was going through. The sharp contrast between social norms and the waves of change which were also spreading through other countries seemed almost tangible.

Ebejer’s writing did not shirk from reflecting this. It grappled with philosophical, psychological and social issues and explored the absurdities of life and human behaviour. He interwove his influences into plays which reflect the concerns and realities of his time.

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