MCAST student speaks out after Castille tried to stop his play on high-profile murders and deaths

Censorship in Malta is alive and well, an MCAST student has said, after the Prime Minister’s Office tried to stop him mounting a public play about four high-profile murders and deaths.

And although Prime Minister Robert Abela ended up intervening personally to ensure the play could continue, Mohamed Ali Aguerbi warned that the incident still misrepresents the situation in the country.

As part of her thesis at the Institute of Creative Arts, Aguerbi staged a play around the murders of Daphne Caruana Galizia, Lassana Cissé and Paulina Dembska and the death of Miriam Pace.

The piece connects the four deaths by pointing out how authorities ignored worrying signs and only acted once people had lost their lives.

“No action was taken to protect Daphne before her death, a lack of action against racism led to Lassana’s death, and we waited for Paulina to die before passing femicide legislation. Three houses s ‘were collapsed before Miriam Pace was killed, but no action was taken until a human was dead,’ Aguerbi told Lovin Malta.

“These are different topics but all related to the idea that people end up dying. How many topics do we continue to ignore, just to get the same results? It’s always a reactive approach, not a proactive one.

Aguerbi and fellow castmates Rachelle Deguara and Chakib Zidi secured a permit from the local Valletta council to stage the play this weekend, but for a moment it looked like the performance would be silenced by political interference.

“The Director of the Institute of Creative Arts [Martina Caruana] received a call from the OPM, informing them that the permit for the play was revoked because coffins were being used as props and they did not want any coffins in front of Castile.

“We waited for the director of MCAST to do something or negotiate but he told me to apply for a permit at another place, not in front of Castile.”

Aguerbi and fellow castmates Rachelle Deguara and Chakib Zidi secured a permit from the local Valletta council to stage the play this weekend, but for a moment it looked like the performance would be silenced by political interference.

“The Director of the Institute of Creative Arts [Martina Caruana] received a call from the OPM, informing them that the permit for the play was revoked because coffins were being used as props and they did not want any coffins in front of Castile.

“We waited for the director of MCAST to do something or negotiate but he told me to apply for a permit at another place, not in front of Castile.”

After Aguerbi posted a message on social media and alerted the media to the incident, a spokesperson for Robert Abela told The Times of Malta that the Prime Minister had personally intervened, making it clear that the play should continue. .

Aguerbi said while he doesn’t believe Abela ever opposed the performance, it’s still concerning that someone who works in the country’s most powerful organization tried to stop a play. of students, and also worries that MCAST gave in so easily.

“People had offered to phone certain people to make sure the play could take place, but I don’t see that we had to make calls just to get a permit,” he said.

“I don’t think we should have even needed a permit to put on a piece in a public space that doesn’t block access. However, we had to lobby for the permit, the press intervened and people had to make special phone calls.

“What about an artist who doesn’t have connections and doesn’t know certain people? You don’t want to live in that situation when you create things.

As for MCAST, they questioned the logic behind the institution teaching students to think critically and reminding them that Malta has no censorship laws, only to cave in to pressure to censor a piece of their own students.

“The director of MCAST agreed with the censorship of a performance from their own festival and in no way acted to oppose this censorship,” Aguerbi said.

The play will take place on Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 6:30 p.m. on the Place du Château and is free for the general public.

Have you ever experienced this kind of censorship of the arts in Malta?

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Tim is interested in the rapid evolution of human society caused by technological advances. He is passionate about justice, human rights and cutting edge political debates. You can follow him on Twitter at @timdiacono or contact him at [email protected]