The Drama of Domestic Violence

Since joining the EU in 2004, Latvia has been participating in an ongoing project to curb domestic violence, sponsored by the EU. Both spousal abuse and marital rape are prohibited under the Latvian constitution, but unfortunately most domestic abuse cases are not prosecuted in court, or even brought to the attention of authorities. There are also no laws specifically prohibiting domestic violence, and no battered women's shelters or hotlines. In fact, like in many Central and Eastern European countries, the subject is still taboo and considered a family matter. So, some Maltese actors have taken it upon themselves to remind Latvians of this hidden problem in their society.

The newest aspect of the project involves something inherent in domestic violence itself - drama. But this is more the theatre kind than the private kind, and involves actors from the Malta Drama Centre and a play called "Gunitas Story." The play aims to confront the long-ignored (or often accepted) problem, and to present solutions, especially since the main path to a solution involves first acknowledging the problem's existence. The play will be performed in Maltese, English and Latvian starting next month. Its director is Chris X. Grech, a regular tutor at the Malta Drama Centre. Be sure to check the events calendar for full listings of the performances in Riga.

The Maltese actors have been collecting data on the topic, as well as hosting improvisations on the theme of spousal abuse, with both Maltese participants and actors from the Latvian Akniste Theatre Company. Mario Azzopardi, the head of the Malta Drama Centre, explained: We have devised a play to expose the situation and to provoke some form of action through theatre. We have assembled a series of structured scenes on the experience we gained when we first visited Latvia and now our actors will go and play out the drama and invite reactions from the audience which, we have been forewarned, would probably not include males, who are expected to just opt out. Regardless, hopefully their message will not go unheard.

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