Censorship in Malta
Wednesday 24th June 2009
Good news from the Mediterranean island of Malta. At the first court hearing about the censorship of Anthony Neilson’s Stitching (Unifaun), the playwright himself appeared for the defence. According to reports, he did well. Of course, there is always an element of the surreal when a writer is asked to justify the use of swearing, a pornographic picture and an allusion to masturbating over a picture of a Holocaust victim. Deprived of the context of the whole play as an experiential experience, these instances stand out like bleak moments of absurdity. The fault lies with the censors. It is so typical of censorship that it highlights the untypical, those moments that most audiences notice but only in passing, as part of a larger story. Stitching is a shocking piece of theatre but the shock comes from the emotional journey of its characters and their irreconcilable grief at the loss of their child, not from the minor incidents that the censors have, for reasons of their own bad faith, fixated on. We hope that, when the court resumes in the autumn, the verdict will follow sense and not prejudice.