Anthony Neilson’s globally-renowned play ‘Stitching’ is at last to be staged in Malta, at the Teatru Manoel Studio Theatre, following almost a decade of legal wrangling.
The controversial play follows a couple who pick apart their relationship, stitch by stitch, when they discover they are expecting a child. Whilst their journey is brutal, dark and savage, the play’s intimacy and tenderness has maintained its popularity for audiences worldwide.
Although ‘Stitching’ has been performed from New York to Turkey, this did not prevent it from being banned in Malta by the local authorities in 2009, which cited the play’s dark themes and references as unsuitable for the Maltese public. A decade-long series of Malta-based and European court appeals against the censorship followed, led by producer Adrian Buckle of Unifaun Theatre Company and supported by the play’s director Christopher Gatt and actors Pia Zammit and Mikhail Basmadjian. Earlier this year their campaign was finally successful, with the news that ‘Stitching’ may at last be staged in Malta.
“The fight was terrible – it took its toll on my health and sanity,” explains Mr Buckle. “It’s a relief that we finally get to stage it and that this whole saga is over.”
Now that ‘Stitching’ has permission to be staged, Mr Buckle feels that producing it is still important for local audiences, almost 10 years later. “I still believe in the play. Not only is it a good play, but also staging it now is a statement in favour of theatre and the arts over censorship and oppression. It has themes that are relevant to our society too – it’s a play about loss and about dealing with loss, and not necessarily coping with that loss.”
“A play about relationships is always relevant,” agrees director Christopher Gatt. “How far are you willing to go if you love someone and want to save them from themselves and others? This is the theme of this dark, fearless, savage but also tender and funny play. Over an intense 80 minutes, Neilson takes audiences on a journey into love, compatibility and psychosis. We share the doubts and fears of a couple which is possibly about to start a family and the consequences of the decision taken. Finally, audiences in Malta can make up their own minds whether this play, and all its themes and ideas, is suitable for themselves to experience.”
Unifaun Theatre Company Supported by Times Events will be producing six performances of ‘Stitching’ at the Teatru Manoel Studio Theatre on 14th, 15th, 16th, 19th, 21st and 23rd September 2018, featuring the original cast of Pia Zammit and Mikhail Basmadjian, with direction by Christopher Gatt. Tickets are priced at €20 and are available via the Teatru Manoel website at www.teatrumanoel.com.mt