The Malta Independent 26 March 2019, Tuesday

First: De-terminated: Sometimes there are shades of grey

Tuesday, 6 November 2018, 11:04 Last update: about 6 months ago

Herman Grech tells First about his upcoming theatrical performance, dealing with the blacks, whites and greys of the controversy that is abortion

De-terminated: The Abortion Diaries is a documentary-style play centred on a series of interviews relating to abortion, that were carried out last year by the play's director and prominent journalist, Herman Grech. Bringing the never before tackled topic to the centre stage, the play features five characters giving their own personal accounts, while two others play pro-choice and anti-abortion activists.

From a man who was sexually abused as a child and then forced his partner to have an abortion before discovering God, to a woman who was violently raped by her partner, the plays aims to portray the raw emotions of a common experience that political and religious discussions often underplay. Grech approached the play from a narrative perspective to remove his own personal beliefs from the project at hand.


He tells First that: "De-terminated is not a pro-choice or anti-abortion play", but rather an attempt to peel back the layers of the controversial debate and shed light on the lack of constructive dialogue in our community. In Malta, unfortunately, debates of this nature - along with politics and migration - are extremely polarising, resulting in what Grech refers to as "two camps that often just scream each other down."

The title of the play 'De-terminated' is almost as powerful as the subject matter it dares to handle, as it presents a play on the interpretation of the commonly associated phrase, when referring to abortion, 'termination', and the determination of the characters that bring the play to life.

Harnessing theatre's power to transcend entertainment, Grech strongly believes that the play - and theatre in general - offer a wonderful medium for shedding light on divisive topics and provide the audience with a safe space in which to gather their thoughts and articulate their feelings. Reflecting on his own personal triumph of successfully opening up a dialogue, Grech recalled an occasion when a member of the audience, after having watched his 2016 play Lampedusa, said that he/she had learnt more about the immigration issue from the play than from any of the news stories to which they had been exposed. 

It is impossible to dismiss someone looking you in the eye and telling his or her truth. It immediately humanises the speaker, no matter which side of the debate they are on. De-terminated intends to strike a chord with a Maltese audience by making use of personal accounts which were, in most cases, the first time those being interviewed had ever been able or comfortable to share their stories, abolishing any elements of blame and simply navigating the grey waters of fear, intolerance and frustration that plague the abortion debate. As Grech puts it: "Pro-choice or anti-abortion should not automatically mean that the 'others' are baby-killers or church crusaders. Sometimes, there are shades of grey."

Annihilating the stigma and pulling open the conservative curtains of protection, De-terminated invites you to witness and observe the real-life accounts of those who have faced the mental anguish that an unexpected pregnancy can cause. A co-production of Spazju Kreattiv and supported by the Malta Arts Fund, the play features a stellar cast of well-known national treasures such as Jo Caruana, Charlotte Grech, Alan Paris, Jess Camilleri, Marta Vella and Isabel Warrington. 

You can get a front row seat to history at the Spazju Kreattiv Theatre on October 19, 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28. The production includes a sound installation by Yasmin Kuymizakis. Tickets are available on the Spazju Kreattiv website or from the box office by calling 21223200. 

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