This year’s Boh Cameronian Arts Awards theme, Yesterday For Tomorrow, acknowledged the nation’s rich heritage and culture as an intrinsic part of our journey forward.
Kakiseni president Low Ngai Yuen, in her opening speech at the awards’ 13th edition on April 24 at the D’Saji restaurant venue in Kuala Lumpur, highlighted that the narrative we write today will have an impact on tomorrow.
“The questions we should be asking ourselves now is what are we doing to push the arts to the next level, what are we doing to ensure that there will be access to the arts, what are we doing together to make sure that the arts continue to thrive in this country,” she says.
“It is through understanding what we have, understanding out heritage and our tradition, that we can move forward together,” she adds.
Despite the Boh Cameronian Arts Awards paying tribute to the traditional arts forms this year – in particular bangsawan, mak yong and wayang kulit – the big winners were anything but traditional.
Contemporary arts culture – be it showbiz or cutting edge – remains a huge part of the Cammies.
At the awards evening, Pan Productions’ musical Cabaret was a major winner, sweeping four awards in the musical theatre category for best performance by an ensemble, best performance in a supporting role (Zalina Lee), best choreographer (Suhaili Micheline) and best direction (Nell Ng). It also won best sound design (Terence Chong) in the technical awards segment earlier this month.
“Working on the choreography was tricky because the ensemble were people who were not trained in dance. We started from scratch, they had to fuse a lot of their character into the dance vocabulary, and I am so proud that at the end of the three months they had with me, they could go out there on their own,” says choreographer Suhaili, who was also part of the ensemble.
Cabaret, which first showed here in 2011, is about life at the seedy Kit Kat Klub in Berlin in the midst of an impending war. The show isn’t short on romance, make-believe and harsh reality – all thrown into the mix.
Last year’s second staging of Cabaret brought Pan Productions broader recognition.
Another standout was The Dawns Here Are Quiet, a theatre piece directed by Deric Gan Eng Kee based on Russian author Boris Vasilyev’s novel of the same name. The show, staged last year to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of the World Anti-Fascist War, was presented in Mandarin with English surtitles. The Dawns Here Are Quiet, presented by The Actors Studio Seni Teater Rakyat and Muka Space, won best direction (Gan) and best actor in a supporting role (Paz Lim).
“This is the first time a Chinese language theatre production has won for best direction and also the first time nominated in so many categories,” says Gan in reference to the seven nominations garnered.
Adapting the novel, which revolves around five female Russian soldiers taking on German paratroopers by the Finnish border during WW II, into a two-hour long play was no walk in the park for Gan. He shared that one of the biggest challenges was effectively conveying the epic battlefield scene on stage. He was over the moon when The Dawns Here Are Quiet bagged two technical awards: best set design (Zen Tan) and best costume design, styling and make up (Dominique Devorsine).
Best choreographer in a mixed bill in the dance category went to Suhaili and Faillul Adam for Nasi Ekonomi in Tepak Tari – Program B, presented by MyDance Alliance.
Describing Nasi Ekonomi as a comedy, parody and abstract take on Malaysian life, Faillul (aka Boy) said that the secret of its success is its honesty.
“It captures something you can’t really express with words, but you can feel it,” he explains, pointing to the show’s socio-economic currents.
Other winners included Aswara Dance Company for best group performance in the dance category for Becoming King ... The Pakyung Revisited, with choreographer Joseph Gonzales walking away with best choreographer in a feature-length work award.
In the music category, Tay Cher Siang, who had numerous nominations for Waiting For That Day: A Live Concert, bagged best solo performance (instrumental) and best original composition for The Art Of The Wind-Up Alarm Clock (in Waiting For That Day).
WVC Malaysian Jazz Ensemble, which presented Waiting For That Day, also grabbed the best group original performance (instrumental) award.
Also in the music category, The Lady Sings The Shows, presented by Jazz Works with musical direction by Michael Veerapen, won two awards: Junji Delfino for best solo performance (vocal) and Veerapen for best musical direction.
Sand The Musical walked away with best performance in a leading role (Abimanyu Misilamani) and best musical direction (Santosh Logandran) in the musical theatre category.
In the theatre category, Joe Hasham won best actor in a leading role for Reservations in Sisa-Sisa (Three Doors, Blind Spot, Joy of Solitude, Reservations), written by Jeffrey Fischer Smith, directed by Mark Beau De Silva and presented by The Actors Studio Seni Teater Rakyat.
A total of 28 awards, including four audience choice awards, were handed out at the recent Boh Cameronian Arts Awards.
For the complete list of winners, visit www.kakiseni.com.