A performance piece featuring the deaths of Daphne Caruana Galizia, Lassana Cisse and Miriam Pace due to be performed in Castille square will go ahead after permits were revoked and quickly reinstated, the creator has said.
Mohamed Ali Aguerbi was due to stage his show Counting Down this Saturday and Sunday, which was created as part of his bachelor’s degree thesis project and was included in an annual festival put on by the MCAST Institute for Creative Arts.
The fifteen-minute performance, featuring Rachelle Deguara and Chakib Zidi, tackles heavy topics such as femicide and migration and includes references to high-profile deaths that showcase the dark underbelly of Maltese society.
However, on Wednesday Aguerbi said that he was informed by the college that the permit for the performance had been revoked.
“Censorship in Malta is not a law, it is a practice!” Aguerbi said in a Facebook post.
“After receiving a permit from the Valletta local council with no objection from the Prime Minister's office to present Counting Down in Castille Square, yesterday I heard that the OPM is revoking the permit.”
He was told that the incorporation of coffins that are used as a prop during the performance was found to be objectionable.
“Their excuse is that they don't want to see coffins in front of the Prime Minister's office. There will be a fashion show on the same day that is still happening, they are revoking only Counting Down's permit,” Aguerbi continued.
“They don't want to see Coffins representing the death of human beings and lands that the same office is responsible for protecting. Of course, they will object!”
He added that MCAST had proposed he move his performance to any other location as long as it did not take place in Castille.
Shortly after sending questions, Times of Malta was informed by a spokesperson from the Office of the Prime Minister that Prime Minister Robert Abela had been alerted of the situation and had advised for the performance to be allowed to go ahead.
“The Prime Minister found out about the issue from these questions and gave a clear direction that the activity is to take place,” the spokesperson said.
Aguerbi also confirmed that he was contacted by MCAST on Wednesday afternoon and informed that the performance could go ahead as planned in Castille without issue.
“They called to tell me that the principal had been contacted about it again and the performance can happen in Castille,” he said.
“However I still think that we don't need calls to have a permit, what will happen to other artists who have no one to make calls on their behalf?”