Boh Cameronian Arts Awards reveals diverse 2024 winners at PJPAC


Adriana Nordin Manan (left) receives the award for Best Original Script (theatre category) for her debut production 'Fault Lines', a family drama about the Malay diaspora in the United States. The award was handed out by award-winning actor and theatre director Zahim Albakri. Photo: KakiSeni

Malaysian performing arts talent took centre stage as the 19th Boh Cameronian Arts Awards (BCAA) unveiled a diverse range of winners at PJPAC's main theatre hall last night.

Among them were an experimental 1990s dance production restaged in a KL warehouse, a thought-provoking new play inspired by the Malay diaspora in the United States, a musical weaving local folklore with indie cool, and a horror musical set amidst the backdrop of the Malayan Emergency.

Kongsi Petak and Cake Project's Switchblade Operation: The Longing dominated the dance category at the BCAA, winning five out of nine awards.

The double bill showcase, featuring Gui Qu Lai Xi and A World In The City, secured accolades including Best Group Performance, Best Choreographer in a Mixed Bill, and Best Featured/Lead Performer for Gabriel Wong.

Producer Low Pey Sien not only praised the dedicated dancers but also recognised the contributions of the behind-the-scenes crew. Reviving dance productions that are nearly three decades old to connect with a contemporary audience was truly commendable.

"While many nominations spotlighted performers, it's gratifying to see the creative team acknowledged, especially given our unconventional venue," said Low.

Looking ahead, she revealed plans for another Switchblade Operation production, promising a fully choreographed version of A World In The City.

Kongsi Petak and Cake Project's production 'A World In The City' secured multiple wins in the BCAA dance category, including Best Group Performance, Best Costume Design, Styling & Make-Up, and Best Choreographer (Loke Soh Kim). Photo: Taka ChangKongsi Petak and Cake Project's production 'A World In The City' secured multiple wins in the BCAA dance category, including Best Group Performance, Best Costume Design, Styling & Make-Up, and Best Choreographer (Loke Soh Kim). Photo: Taka Chang

Five Arts Centre also maintained its dance presence with Lee Ren Xin winning Best Choreographer For A Feature Length Work and Chloe Yap Mun Ee snagging Best Multimedia Design for Anggota 2: Re-Member.

In the theatre categories, two productions led the podium charge at last night's event, hosted by Kai Chalmers.

Malam Takdir, a Mahabharata-inspired Bahasa Malaysia opera by Reka Art Space and Five Arts Centre, and Fault Lines, newcomer Protagonist Studio's acclaimed diasporic drama, both clinched three awards.

Protagonist founder Adriana Nordin Manan's debut English language play Fault Lines, awarded Best Original Script, resonated with contemporary relevance, drawing from her US experiences post-9/11.

"The story is based loosely around my experience studying in the US in 2001, where I observed society post-September 11," said Adriana, who worked on the show's script for nearly 10 years.

"While I wrote Fault Lines to come to terms with my own identity, it's a good sign that stories about navigating complex geo-political issues are becoming recognised (in local theatre)," she added.

Although Fault Lines was a fresh addition to the theatre scene, its seasoned cast and director proved to be a winning formula, securing awards for Best Actor In A Supporting Role (Reza Zainal Abidin) and Best Director (Ghafir Akbar).

Teoh Siew Thung's portrayal as a puppeteer in 'Le Tabouret' earned her the Best Actor in a Leading Role Award (theatre) at the BCAA 2024. Photo: Cheah Chee WaiTeoh Siew Thung's portrayal as a puppeteer in 'Le Tabouret' earned her the Best Actor in a Leading Role Award (theatre) at the BCAA 2024. Photo: Cheah Chee Wai

Malam Takdir, boasting a predominantly Penang-based cast, shattered the notion that only Klang Valley talent could excel, clinching the Best Ensemble/Group Performance award. The accolades for Best Music & Sound Design and Best Lighting Design underscored the production's reliance on both vocal prowess and a dedicated backstage team to achieve success.

A Mandarin production made significant strides in the theatre category as Teoh Siew Thung secured the Best Actor In A Leading Role award for her depiction of an elderly Chinese puppeteer in Le Tabouret, presented by D Yang Productions.

In another nod to Penang, Teoh expressed gratitude for the invaluable guidance provided by the Ombak Potehi team, known for its traditional puppet theatre and cultural research, based in George Town.

"Their teachings provided me with the necessary insights into the art form, enabling me to embody my character authentically," said Teoh.

Musical theatre in 2023 saw horror back on the block, with Cempaka Performing Arts Company and Liver & Lung Productions competing for acclaim with their productions: Spook: The Musical and Melur: The Musical, respectively.

Lee Sher Maine (centre) seen during her performance as Ti Moune in the musical theatre show 'Once On This Island' presented by Monday Show Entertainment. Photo: Monday Show EntertainmentLee Sher Maine (centre) seen during her performance as Ti Moune in the musical theatre show 'Once On This Island' presented by Monday Show Entertainment. Photo: Monday Show Entertainment

Spook garnered five awards, including Best Ensemble/Group Performance and Best Musical Direction, while KL-London-based Liver & Lung Productions, with its flamboyant co-founder Shafeeq Shajahan, secured four awards, including Best Original Book and Best Original Music & Lyrics.

“While Melur was framed as a horror musical, it was also equally tragic, as it was political, as it was historical, as it was romantic. The Malayan Emergency is a much forgotten time in our history. This award is a tribute to the strong line of men and women who made sacrifices for the Malaysia we have today,” said Shafeeq.

However, it was Dominic Lucien Luk and Lee Sher Maine, representing Monday Show Entertainment, who secured the awards for Best Director and Best Performance in a Leading Role for their adaptation of the Broadway classic, Once On This Island.

Lee, portraying an orphan girl entangled in a cross-island romance, credits her team for shaping her character.

"I'm grateful to my team for guiding me into this role. Their steadfast support throughout production truly enhanced my performance," she said.

In the music category, the youthful indie combination of Playspace and RMP secured four out of seven awards, notably Best Original Composition, Best Musical Direction, and Best Group Performance (Instrumental).

The Dondang Dongeng show charmed young theatre enthusiasts last year by weaving together traditional Malay instruments, heartwarming storytelling, and infectious dance rhythms.

Mathew Ngau Jau, a 72-year old legendary sape master and cultural icon from Sarawak, receiving the BCAA 2024 Lifetime Achievement Award at PJPAC, presented by Caroline Russell, executive chairman of Boh Plantations Sdn Bhd. Photo: KakiSeniMathew Ngau Jau, a 72-year old legendary sape master and cultural icon from Sarawak, receiving the BCAA 2024 Lifetime Achievement Award at PJPAC, presented by Caroline Russell, executive chairman of Boh Plantations Sdn Bhd. Photo: KakiSeni

"Our aim was to introduce Malaysian folktales to children in an engaging and educational manner, and we hope to see similar productions in the future," read a Playspace and RMP statement.

The 2024 Lifetime Achievement Award honoured Mathew Ngau Jau, 72, a living legend embodying the rich cultural heritage of the Kenyah Ngorek people of Sarawak and the spellbinding melodies of the sape.

Across nearly five decades, Matthew has not only safeguarded but also elevated the traditional music and art forms of his community, garnering acclaim both nationally and internationally.

Mathew is also the first traditional arts practitioner, from either Sarawak or Sabah, to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the BCAA.

The BCAA distributed 39 awards, totalling RM62,000 in cash prizes, to performing arts practitioners across diverse fields such as dance, music, musical theatre, and theatre. This awards event, also referred to as the "Cammies," was sponsored by Boh Plantations Sdn Bhd and organised by Kakiseni.

More info and full winners list here.

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