Thursday, 23 January 2014

Malta Today: Backlash to gay adoption play boosts promotion, inspires ridicule

A YouTube video ‘protest’ against upcoming gay adoption stage drama Jiena Nhobb, Inti Thobb may turn out to be the best possible advert for the Simon Bartolo-penned production, soon to be staged at the Manoel Theatre.
Wednesday 22 January 2014 - 14:33 by Teodor Reljic

Clare Aguis, Roderick Vassallo and Davide Tucci in the already-controversial Maltese production Jiena Nhobb, Inti Thobb.

Operators working within the local cultural scene will often complain that their audiences are almost always made up of the same groups of people, but the producers of upcoming gay adoption drama Jiena Nhobb, Inti Thobb may just break with that uncomfortable tradition thanks to a viral video aimed - ironically enough - to turn potential punters away from the play.

Last Monday, shortly after Stagun Teatru Malti released its first promotional material for Jiena Nhobb, Inti Thobb, Matthew Luke Grech - a member of the controversial 'gay conversion' Christian group River of Love - released a YouTube video calling for a boycott on the play, given that it deals with themes that could potentially be "harmful" to society.

Grech first dipped his feet into the public sphere during his stint as an aspiring 'pop/RnB' singer going by the moniker Jay Omaro, but has since then eschewed a musical career.

Reaction to the video on social media was resoundingly negative, with many condemning Grech's stance as highly offensive and blinkered.

Some also took issue with Grech's involvement with the controversial Christian group River of Love, which is headed by televangelist Gordon Mache and propagates 'reparative' conversion techniques for homosexuals - a practice deemed "damaging, destructive and unethical" by a psychologist interviewed by MaltaToday.

Others were amused by Grech's use of the word 'suppressat', while some commented on the apparent discrepancy between the homophobic sentiment espoused by Grech during the video and the sight of what looked like a shiny tutu hanging on the wall behind him.

But perhaps the most memorable response came from a parody video by stand-up comedian Matt Bonanno. In his send-up of Grech's imploring missive, Bonnano talks about the apparent damage to children the upcoming animated feature film The Lego Movie will cause to children.

Jiena Nhobb, Inti Thobb is written by Simon Bartolo and directed by Sean Buhagiar. Being performed under the Stagun Teatru Malti banner, it will be staged at the Manoel Theatre between February 7 and 10, and is produced by Mario Philip Azzopardi.

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