ĦABBILNI ĦA NIRBAĦ
Staġun Teatru Malti‘s 2016 season opens at the Manoel Theatre with Simon Bartolo‘s new play, Ħabbilni Ħa Nirbaħ, on the 12th February.
The title and the poster, featuring four pregnant school girls, has irked some and made others chuckle. Where’s the fun in a new modern contemporary theatrical work if it’s devoid of some sort of controversial naughtiness?
Nonetheless, STM’s executive producer, Mario Philip Azzopardi, insists that they “try to offer as varied a menu as they can.”
“Controversy isn’t the only staple in our repertoire. We’ve presented comedies, drama, horror, nostalgia and satire. All of them have had one thing in common – the Maltese experience – in all its forms, warts n’all. If we’re going to talk about ourselves in an intelligent and adult way, then we’ve got to have the guts to look into an uncompromising theatrical mirror, fashioned by socially committed artists who aren’t afraid to challenge perceptions, to question taboos, and to unmask hypocrisy wherever they find it.”
“The challenge of course is to make sure that none of this becomes preachy, boring and feeling like homework. Our theatre is primarily entertainment of the highest quality, integrity and commitment, with the highest respect towards our audiences who have now come to expect the best in local theatrical entertainment. We’re very proud of the ten productions we’ve produced so far in the last eight years, and the plan is for many more to come.”
Bartolo, whose has also given us Jiena Nħobb, Inti Tħobb, returns with another fiercely tongue-in-cheek social comedy, taken straight out of the news headlines. The story of four girls who bet who’d get pregnant first by a young man was the starting point for Bartolo. After fourteen gruelling months of workshopping the script, STM has asked Sean Buhagiar to step into his directorial boots to helm this next Bartolo opus.
“Simon’s dialogue is current, fiery, and unapologetic,” says Buhagiar. “There’s no limit to his acute sensitivity of what constitutes Maltese reality. It’s all there, as honest and unabashedly uncompromising as ever. I’d be loath to call this a comedy. Yes, sure there’s lots of laughs but the play goes beyond the ‘funny’ to delve into themes that lead to very serious outcomes. Simon takes issues we are reading about on current media and creates a story which cracks you up and wrecks you at the same time. The play springs from local sensationalistic stories about teen pregnancies, misguided youth and discombobulated parenthood to paint a not-so-happy picture of alienation and decadence. The subtitle says it all – Fejn fallejna? (Where did we go wrong?).”
STM has assembled a fantastic cast including Monica Attard, Narcy Calamatta, Josette Ciappara, Carlos Farrugia, Vince Micallef Pulé, Antonella Axisa, Marceline Galea, Lorriane D’Ugo and Jean Pierre Cassar. The four girls will be played by Kim Dalli, Daniela Carabott Pawley, Mariele Żammit u Shelby Aquilina.
Tickets can be purchased here and there will be matinée performances on Sundays.