Ray Calleja huwa
membru ta’ l-XXX Theatre Group li tella’ “Salomé” ta’ Oscar
Wilde, “Woycezk” ta’ Georg Buchner u l-produzzjoni oriġinali
“Ħrejjef il-Malti”. Ħa sehem f’seminar tad-drama ta’
ħmistax fi Stratford-on-Avon u fi produzzjonijiet fis-Swan Theatre;
ħa sehem ukoll fi produzzjoni ta’ “The Wall” ta’ James
Saunders ġo Ħamburg u f’“The Idiot King” ġo Moska li
fiha ħadem il-parti principali. Dawn iz-zewġ produzzjonijiet
ittellgħu f’għadd ta’ postijiet.
F’Ġunju ta’ l-1999,
Ray Calleja u Clare Agius (XXX Theatre Group) irrappreżentaw lil
Inizjamed fil-Bjennali ta’ l-Artisti Żgħażagħ
mill-Ewropa u mill-Mediterran li saret f’Ruma. Ir-rappreżentazzjoni
oriġinali tagħhom kien jisimha “Riħ”.
Fuq TVM kien jippreżenta kuljum il-programm “Inservik” flimkien ma’ Clare Agius u Lucienne Selvagi. F’Ottubru 1999, Ray, flimkien ma’ Claudette Pace u Peter Fleri Soler ingħaqdu flimkien biex waqqfu l-istazzjon televiżiv Max Plus. Minbarra li huwa direttur tal-kumpanija MediaPact li topera l-istazzjon, Ray Calleja huwa l-kap tal-programmi lokali.
L-ewwel xogħol tiegħu
ma’ l-istazzjon kien li jipproduċi u jippreżenta l-programm
“Mela Ma Nafx”. Bejn Settembru u Marzu tas-sena l-oħra kellu
l-programm “Hello Ray” u f’Lulju ta’ l-2001 beda jippreżenta
l-programm ta’ kuljum “Minn Taghna”.
Focus on Ray Calleja
Adapted from an interview by Herman Grech (Tune-In, June 2001)
He might be the only Maltese man in history to have uttered a few words in an Oscar-winning film - as Lucius's attendant in Gladiator - but Ray Calleja's claim to fame doesn't stop there.
“I love my work, even though sometimes I put in 18 hours in a day,” said TV presenter and producer Ray Calleja. But I’d have it no other way," the 33-year-old entertainer mulled in his trademark soothing voice. Ray, from St Julian's, is one of the directors of Media Pact, the company that owns Max Plus.
"People really have the wrong perception of working in television. Many believe TV translates into comfort and glamour, you wake up at midday, and it's the passport to making loads of money. Wrong!" In reality, for every five minutes of television you need 30 minutes of preparation, Ray stressed. Which means, it is definitely not a 9 to 5 job. Before stepping into the world of television, Ray was jack of all trades. His CV includes: waiter, salesman, clerk, banker, paint shop and butcher's assistant, the list goes on...
His present career started when Ray received a phone-call from PBS to co-present Inservik, an afternoon chat-show on PBS, along with Clare Agius and Lucienne Selvagi. I didn't think twice about leaving my office job. It was always my dream to do something like this, though I admit I was always scared of trying my hand at TV."
Hard to believe, but Ray is actually shy by nature. Until then, Ray's name was more synonymous with theatre, where his 20 years in the scene had firmly established him as one of the finest local actors. "While with theatre you can hide behind a mask, with TV you have to be yourself. lt's not easy to go in front of a camera, unless you have a natural flair for TV," he admits. Things in the business started to change - a proposal to do an evening show on PBS, integrated with the news, was given the thumbs down. Other television stations came forward with offers but the political affiliation pushed Ray and his team away.
At this point he got together with Peter Fieri Soler, Claudette Pace and they pooled their resources. They agreed to build a television station from scratch. Following a lengthy bureaucratic process to obtain the necessary permits, Max Plus was born in October 1999. Slowly but surely, it has grown from strength to strength. Ray also assumed the role of 'head of local productions', and his first job was to present and produce Mela Ma Nafx. Things started falling into place and the productions grew in stature and popularity. "My day at work is always different. I always walk in with a set of things to do, but end up doing everything else except what I had in mind. But I guess that is why TV is so exciting," he said. Ray's work also involves coordination, gathering new and fresh ideas - and to constantly be on the look-out for what is popular. Experience does help. Ray admits that he cringes every time he sees a video of himself presenting Inservik, and though he fails to admit it, his on screen presence is now practically flawless.
Ray feels the unfortunate thing about the broadcasting media in Malta is the lack of training. To get some hands-on experience Ray flew to Dublin for a two-week media course. Does he prefer presenting or producing? "Both,” he said with confidence. It can be "frustrating", if you just end up presenting a programme, but doing both means you have complete control. In fact, at Max Plus they have established a system where a presenter has to assume the role of co-producer.
Ray Calleja (Kitbiet mill-Mediterran, Awwissu, 2000)