January 18 2004
no worries no need to wait for an MADC production, Saviour Balzan explains
twenty-seven years ago when I had seen my last Pantomime at the Manoel
Theatre. At age thirteen I was already finding the jokes about hamalli
and class somewhat unbearable. Then two weeks ago a kind invitation
from MADC led me back to the pantomime. The game play has not changed,
but then I said to myself to hell with it.
I enjoyed the Pantomime most especially because of the talented actor
One of the jibes in the pantomime referred to the advert that reappears
on Super One TV with an Syrian turned Maltese promoting creams that
instantly remove pains or make your breasts firmer or something to that
His advertising prowess probably works wonders with the stupid, more
so when he raps up his pantomime with the words "Ghas-serhan tal-mohh,
Made in America."
The truth is that one need not venture to the Manoel to watch a pantomime.
As my late uncle used to exclaim in Maltese whenever he encountered
mediocre happenings; "PantoMINA, killhe farsa."
The first case of real life pantomime, is the reportage of the Meinrad
Calleja jury. Read one newspaper and you will get one angle to the proceedings,
read another and you will get the complete opposite. There is no beating
round the bush, on one side you have those that believe that Meinrad
Calleja did it and then there are those who believe the opposite.
Much the same can be said about media reportage on the choice of a foreign
minister. The suffering public has to endure carefully worded articles
spun and cooked according to whims of the spin-doctors.
Behind the scenes, readers are unaware of the back stabbing and chess
games played by those, who not only have vested interests, but are acting
like pawns for individuals who are only interested in their own careers.
As we come closer to the issue of who will be the next leader of the
Nationalist party or the next President, those who have much to gain
or lose will take their ninja* script writers and fill the newspapers
with stories that are aimed at influencing decision making at the very
top. Anyone in the media business will know that certain names are linked
to very well known spin-doctors.
The feeling of pantomime takes us on to another issue, the festivities
to mark the 1 May, the day when Malta becomes a fully-fledged EU member.
Now rumour has it that the tender for this money-making activity has
attracted up to 15 tenderers. Some of the tender bids are joint efforts
and others are not.
The news about the event is not who has tendered, although it is worth
noting that the media house ‘Where’s Everybody,’ is
also making a bid here. The real thing that has attracted my attention,
was the idea of getting a rock star of some international fame to compose
a musical piece for the 1 May celebrations.
Now as I fill in my tax assessment and VAT return, looking at me straight
in the face at home on the sotto-specchio is my water and electricity
bill, my telephone bill, my health insurance and a few parking tickets
to pay. There are thousands of other people in the same boat, and we
have all been asked to be careful with our spending and not to live
beyond our means. So one will appreciate that when I learn that a rock
star of ‘we do not want education’ fame may in fact be taking
a chunk of my tax contribution to make some people’s bank accounts
rosier after May, I can only say; "PantoMINA, pantoMINA, killhe
farsa." And please give me Philip Vella as a composer any day.
The 1 May merits a national celebration, but it should reflect the country’s
budget and solemn financial state and it must have a definite Maltese
flavour. The same, I am sure will happen in Hungary, Latvia, Slovenia,
Cyprus and all the other accession countries. On that memorable national
day, they will not play UK rock tunes, but national folkloristic tunes
and they will not eat Mac hamburgers, but Hungarian sausages, smoked
Latvian herring, Slovenian wild boar or Cypriot pickled songbirds.
Perhaps what is really needed is one big Maltese party consonant with
our national tastes! So give every Maltese one glass of red dry wine
mixed with 7UP or simply a Kinnie and a large ftira with tuna, capers,
olive oil, onions, salt and pepper would do. Of course accompanied by
some noisy but colourful fireworks and some fanfare from all of Malta’s
and Gozo’s brass band clubs and to wrap it up the national anthem.
It would cost the government some Lm235,000 exclusive of VAT and would
serve to make up for all the Christmas parties we missed and would have
alienated us for a wee afternoon from the real world of pantomime.
*Ninja were trained killers selected from the lower illiterate classes