The case for Stitching continues
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The case for Stitching continues

A priest told the Court this morning he would have classified Anthony Nielson's play Stitching 18R, meaning all adults with reservations.

Fr Joe Abela, a member on the film analysis and classification board of the Church, was testifying in Unifaun Theatre's case and Malta's decision to ban the play.

He said the story was one of suffering and very human. "It is an opportunity for people to try to understand the suffering that people go through when they have lost a child."

Stitching is about the relationship of a couple, where the woman gets pregnant and they decide to keep the baby in a bid to save their relationship, which was experiencing problems.

The relationship continues to disintegrate and the child dies in a traffic accident while the parents are arguing. They both carry the guilt of the child’s death. This reunites them but the woman appears as a prostitute to distance herself from the emotions of reuniting. She slips into mental illness and later mutilates herself in an attempt to become a virgin.

It takes place on two timelines with the story getting together in the end.

Mr Justice Joseph Zammit McKeon referred to an argument in the play where the husband tells the wife he would urinate on her. He asked Fr Abela if he would still have approved the play, if, hypotetically speaking, this was actually acted out. Fr Abela replied in the affirmative.

When asked about interpretation, Fr Abela said that even his clear and concise Sunday sermons were given a million and one interpretations.

When asked if the author had to use such language to portray suffering, Fr Abela said it was ordinary language used by everyday people.

"Swearing is in our culture... I'm not saying I agree with it but it is," he said.

Also testifying this morning was Mr Nielson who said the play was written in 2002 and it first premiered in London. It has since travelled the world winning the best play by Timeout Magazine in 2002.

Asked if the play would lose any of its significance should swear words be removed, Mr Nielson said that every word was there for a reason.

Pia Zammit, the main actress said the cast believed Stitching was a valid play and they asked priests, psychologists, doctors and lawyers to watch it. The feedback was positive.

The next hearing is in September.

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