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We’re going to make it after all

Actor Pino Scicluna in L'Uomo Che Pesa il Mondo in 2014. Photo: Clyde Camilleri

Actor Pino Scicluna in L'Uomo Che Pesa il Mondo in 2014. Photo: Clyde Camilleri

Way back when I was just over a decade old, a woman would walk down the streets of Minneapolis week after week and fling her hat in the air. That gesture would be accompanied by a song which concluded ‘we’re going to make it after all’.

That woman quietly started what many see as the mainstreaming of feminism.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show centred on a single woman and her life in what was still a male dominated TV newsroom world. Unlike previous female-centric shows such as I Love Lucy, it was the first TV programme to offer an independent, career-minded woman as a central character. It was seen as liberating the sitcom, turning it from an insipid comedy programme to one for and about adults and adult situations. The show ended in 1977, and yet its influence continues to this day, inspiring many of today’s female entertainers.

So it is hardly surprising that her death this week was marked with much genuine sadness.

As were the deaths of two other actors, this time, closer to home.

I have very vague memories of Ethel Farrugia. Unfortunately she had pretty much retired from the scene by the time I had reached an age when I could appreciate her work. But others have talked about her influence on their craft, especially when it came to honing their skills. Her attention to detail was phenomenal.

In an article written in 2003, Paul Xuereb writes of the "meticulousness with which she prepared us members of the cast to approach rehearsals, the sensitive way in which she directed us - and the never-ending rehearsals".

Another actor who has passed on, is Pino Scicluna.

When I first got to know Pino around 25 years ago, he was a quiet man with a wacky sense of humour. But his quiet demeanour belied a a nervous tension. I often felt he was like a caged bird wanting to fly.

Apart from theatre, his other love was farming and all things agricultural. So when, by chance, I met him in Valletta one day, I told him of an agricultural scholarship being offered by the Italian embassy. He sounded interested and I told him to hurry as the closing date was the next day.

I could see him change, the nervous tension of frustration replaced by the nervous tension of creativity. And because of this he was, no, still is, an inspiration

I next met Pino about a year later, and found out that he had got the scholarship and moved to Italy. Over the years I would meet up with him as his acting career grew. This was a time pre-EU, pre-arts scholarships, and yet, like other Maltese of his age, he forged ahead. I could see him change, the nervous tension of frustration replaced by the nervous tension of creativity. And because of this he was, no, still is, an inspiration.

And inspiration is exactly what I felt when I saw millions of women, and accompanying men and children don silly pink pussy caps to remind the newly instated President Donald J Trump that their voices will not be diminished or disregarded.

As an out and out liberal (well what else would you expect from someone who works in the arts?), I had to applaud the initiative, especially after President Trump's inaugural speech with its unfortunate ‘America First’ slogan. America First being the name of the isolationist, defeatist, anti-Semitic national organisation that urged the United States to appease Adolf Hitler.

As Trump makes headway in his policies of building walls, banning Muslims and bullying the press for not accommodating him by merely reporting his lies instead of questioning him, it is good to see that some people are not taking it lying down.

So while Trump tries to turn the clock back (I suppose that’s what the ‘again’ refers to in his slogan ‘Make America Great Again’) with protectionist and patriarchal policies of the 1950s, it is good to see that he will find a strong, critical grassroots reception to those policies.

So maybe there is hope yet. As we buckle up and look forward to four rollercoaster years of Trump mischief, we can hope that the voice of reason will still be heard.

As Mary Tyler Moore might have said: "We’re Going To Make It After All".

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