The Malta Independent 10 December 2022, Saturday
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Health and cultural feast at Notte Bianca

Malta Independent Friday, 4 October 2013, 08:03 Last update: about 10 years ago

Palazzo Castellania in Merchants Street, Valletta, a masterpiece of Baroque marble sculpture and housing the Ministry for Health, will this Saturday be a perfect backdrop for this year’s edition of Notte Bianca. The Ministry for Health is actively participating in Notte Bianca, offering health services and information but also a cultural feast.

Prevention is one of the main priorities for action. The Ministry takes every opportunity to encourage the Maltese population to take care of their health by taking the opportunity to offer services in the community. The Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Directorate and the Primary Care Department will be offering their services during Notte Bianca from 18:00 hrs to midnight. These services will be including: general health and well being; nutritional and physical activity advice; smoking cessation advice; body mass index testing; blood pressure testing and blood glucose monitoring. The Office of the Commissioner for Mental Health and Older Persons will be informing the public about the Commissioner’s office and the Mental Health Act.

On a historical perspective, the Ministry’s staff will be giving guided tours around the building. The tour includes the majestic staircase leading to the Ministry’s board room, which used to serve as the Knight of St. John’s Law Courts; the underground dungeons where prisoners spent the rest of their days before their execution and the laboratory where Sir Themistocles Zammit, a physician and archaeologist discovered the Mediterranean strain of brucellosis in 1905.

One of the internal court yards of the Ministry will be hosting the drama production Hitan, one of Francis Ebejer's first plays. The story is about three generations of a Christian Jewish family, two of whom have survived the Holocaust. The grandfather, who has settled his family in Malta after the war, is obsessed with remembering the Holocaust and making sure that his grandchildren visualize it as if they had lived through it themselves. He lost his wife in a concentration camp, and it is clear that he still feels guilty about having survived. The return of the old man's daughter from Israel prompts him to "renew the house" through a sinister ritual. He reads from what seems to be his gospel of hate, and his grandchildren enact the parts of prisoners and of Nazi soldiers. It is when the ritual is interrupted by the granddaughter's non-Jewish boyfriend that the play reaches its climax.

Produced by Jesmond Zerafa and Anthony DeGiovanni and directed by Dorothy Singh, the cast includes actors Joe Pace, Gabriella Borg, Francesca Zarb, Aaron Fenech and Duncan Azzopardi. Mater Dei Health care professionals will be exhibiting their own works of art. Works exhibited will be for sale; a percentage of the proceeds will be eventually donated to this December’s edition of “L-Istrina”. Some of the artists will be in attendance and creating works of art on the spot.

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