Winners announced for this year’s Premju Francis Ebejer

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Winners announced for this year’s Premju Francis EbejerThe winners of this year’s edition of Premju Francis Ebejer are Leanne Ellul with her work Ma Rridx Immur in the ‘Writing for the Theatre’ category (Category A) and Vincent Vella with his work Fuq il-Bjut, in the ‘Writing of Radio Plays’ category (Category C).

The second prize in Category C went to Joe Friggieri with his work KM613 minn Ruma. Leanne Ellul will also be receiving a special mention for her young age – she is under 25 years old. No scripts were submitted for Category B, ‘Writing for the theatre for children/teens.’

The winners were chosen from a total of 17 scripts; 13 entries were submitted for the category of ‘Writing for the Theatre’ (Category A) and four were submitted for the category of ‘Writing for the theatre for children/teens’ (Category C).

Premju Francis Ebejer is an opportunity and an incentive for writers to aim higher and work to renew Maltese theatre. The award for best plays is not merely financial but the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts (MCCA), which organises the Premju, also offers support for the winning scripts in all the categories to be produced and published. A call for the production of this year’s winning scripts is currently open.

The chairman of this year’s judging panel was Dr Immanuel Mifsud; Prof Mary Darmanin was vice-chair while Simon Bartolo, Dr Norbert Bugeja and Liliana Portelli were members.

In last year’s edition, Malcolm Galea was the winner of the award for best script for children and teens, with the play Id-Dlam taht it-Teatru. The prize for radioplays was awarded to the Pro-Rector for the Gozo Campus, Prof Joe Friggieri, for his work Kwadri minn Wirja. Anthony Portelli was awarded second prize for his radioplay Lippu ‘id-Doggi’. In the theatre scriptwriting category, which received seven entries, the jury did not feel that the required level had been reached.

This year, which also coincides with the 20th anniversary of the death of Francis Ebejer, the MCCA will be announcing the restructuring of the Premju to address the fact that often, in the past few years, the submitted scripts did not reach the required level. Through this restructuring, the Premju aims to not only provide an incentive for writers to submit relevant and high-calibre works but also to contribute directly to the development of writers and their works.

Among the changes, it is planned that the competition will be held once every two years instead of annually. The funds of the year when the competition is not held will be used to organise training schemes which will be open to all those wishing to improve the quality of their writing for theatre.

During his speech, parliamentary secretary for culture and local government Jose’ Herrera spoke about the Premju’s role in encouraging established and upcoming writers. The Premju not only rewards authors of original literary/theatre works but also provides assistance with their production for the theatre and radio. Although the entries do not always reach the required level, a number of changes are being made which will create new training opportunities, with the aim of improving the quality of writing for the theatre both for children as well as for adults.

Francis Ebejer (1925-1993) is remembered for his lively and avant-garde style of writing. This left a strong impact on his audiences and helped Maltese theatre to make a leap ahead. In the sixties and seventies, the writer experienced the tensions which Maltese society was going through.

The sharp contrast between social norms and the waves of change which were also spreading through other countries seemed almost tangible. Ebejer’s writing did not shirk from reflecting this. It grappled with philosophical, psychological and social issues and explored the absurdities of life and human behaviour. He interwove his influences into plays which reflect the concerns and realities of his time.

Photos show from top left Leanne Ellul, Vincent Vella with the MCCA chairman Albert Marshall and right Prof Joe Friggieri.

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