And the winner is…
by Christian Lee and Li Sheng
This year at the BCAAs, BOH and Kakiseni have really taken the awards to even higher and more prestigious levels than before. With elegantly dressed attendees, the Astor Room of the St. Regis Kuala Lumpur, and clearly no expense spared, it truly was a red carpet event for this year’s awards ceremony.
With an electrifying duet by Elvira Arul and Dina Nadzir performing Jennifer Hudson’s And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going from Dreamgirls, and an introductory speech by CEO of BOH Plantations Caroline Russell, we were officially welcomed to the 2017 14th BOH Cameronian Arts Awards by our actor, model, director, and emcee Edwin Sumun.
In attendance that night was also none other than the Director-General of the Jabatan Kebudayaan dan Kesenian Negara– YB Tan Sri Norliza Rofli, who graced us with a speech of her own. She recounts having given out awards to several school-level arts competitions in theatre and choir over the past few days, and reminds us of not only the impact and significance of the arts on everyone’s lives, but also how involvement in the arts allows the youth of our country to gain new and valuable experiences. “When I saw the kids act, sing, and be so much in character, I almost cried. Because to them, the arts aren’t just about enjoying themselves. It’s also about learning to work together, learning discipline, and building their confidence”, she said in her speech.
“The arts isn’t just about us here having a fabulous time. The arts is also a platform to give confidence and meaning to the youth.”
A big part of what makes this year’s Awards is that the people involved in the productions will be given the opportunity to meet with elite and well-known business leaders in Malaysia (given the title of ‘Champions of the Arts’), in an effort to launch the Malaysian performing arts scene to new heights. In her speech, President of Kakiseni Low Ngai Yuan reminds us again, “We want corporate investors and international curators to see that being honoured at the awards is a big deal. It should open doors to build partnerships that allow Malaysian artistes to become game-changers, and Kakiseni is committed to fulfilling that promise”.
“The arts are a part of our lives. And this is for the betterment of our country, the community, the future and society.”
As further incentive for potential investors and these Champions of the Arts, Ms. Low reveals that as of 2017, the government will be providing tax incentives of up to RM 1 million for companies that invest in the arts, as they stated in the budget announcement.
“I would like to raise this amount for the corporates up to RM 3 million in two years, and RM 5 million in 5 years”
Before being graced with a song by the wonderful Shanel Shanty performing ‘Arena Cahaya’ while being accompanied by two beautiful dancers, and a moment of silence brought on by our host in honour and memory of great contributors in the Malaysian performing arts industry like Samantha Schubert, Aby Malik, Datuk Adhan Abu Hassan and many others who have most recently left us, we were reminded again of the productions that were the ‘Best of 2016’.
Without further delay, the audience and the ‘Champions’ were introduced to the 6 ‘Best of 2016’ productions that were announced during the 14 BCAA Press Conference that took place a couple a few weeks ago: Black and White @ Variation Rerun 2016, From Soho to Shinjuku. Half Man Half Myth, Into The Woods, Richard III, Shakespeare Goes Bollywood, and The Language Archive.
What came next was a truly unexpected but welcome surprise. You might recall in our previous article, that the BCAA would from now on be stripped of categorical awards, and only have a single ‘Best of’ list; and our opinion piece where we analysed the controversial decision. However, in a stunning turn of events, BOH and Kakiseni started announcing and giving out awards in categories for a host of other shows that mostly weren’t in the ‘Best Of’ list! Presented by a couple of the game-changers Rendra Zawawi and Kun Seng Keng, that Kakiseni have announced as part of its #gamechangers social media campaign, it is with great pleasure that we can still include other players in the industry (who have worked just as hard as the bigger productions in their respective fields) in the awards!
For the DANCE category:
BEST GROUP PERFORMANCE
Asia Duo Dance Company for “CanSur” in Axiomatic, choreographed by Fairul Zahid, presented by Asia Duo Dance Company.
BEST CHOREOGRAPHER IN A FEATURE LENGTH WORK
Anthony Meh Kim Chuan & Aman Yap Choong Boon for Black & White @ Variation Rerun 2016, presented by Dua Space Dance Theatre.
BEST MUSIC AND SOUND DESIGN
Ng Chor Guan for 2020: I’m from 2020, choreographed by Ting-Ting Chang, presented by Toccata Studio.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN, STYLING & MAKE-UP
Quito Yang for “HAHAHA” in Dua Creations- Dpac Arts Festival 2016, choreographed by Ben J. Riepe, presented by DPAC Dance Company.
For the MUSIC category:
BEST SOLO PERFORMANCES – INSTRUMENTAL
Fung Chern Hwei for “Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto” in A Celebration of Chinese Music, musical direction by Lee Kok Leong, presented by The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (klpac).
BEST GROUP ORIGINAL PERFORMANCE – INSTRUMENTAL
HANDS 1 for “Percussion Paradise” in ‘Drumming Nation ‘ Kaleidoscope International Drumming Festival 2016, Musical Direction by Bernard Goh, presented Hands Percussion Sdn Bhd.
BEST PRODUCTION VALUES
Carpe Diem by Checkmate Creative, musical direction by Cross Chin, presented by Checkmate Creative.
For the MUSICAL THEATRE category:
BEST OVERALL PRODUCTION
Into The Woods, musical direction by Shensation, directed by Nell Ng, presented by PAN Productions.
INNOVATION IN MUSICAL THEATRE
Mahsuri (And Other Peculiar Tales) – A New Musical, musical direction by Ian Abel Nathaniel & Kok Wai Leong, directed by Shafeeq Shajahan, presented by Liver and Lung Productions.
For the THEATRE category:
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Sukania Venugopal for The Language Archive, directed by Ghafir Akbar, presented by PH7 Production Management Sdn Bhd.
Deric Gan Eng Kee for Richard III, presented by The Actors Studio Seni Teater Rakyat and MUKA Space.
BEST SET DESIGN
Raja Malik for The Language Archive, directed by Ghafir Akbar, presented by PH7 Production Management Sdn Bhd.
To bring the prestigious awards night to a close, we were given a spectacular performance by the cast and crew of MUD: The Story of Kuala Lumpur– Malaysia’s longest-running stage play, in conjunction with their last performance at Panggung Bandaraya on the 30th of April, where it was staged almost every day since 2014! A whopping 3 YEARS! It also employed a full-time cast and crew. An amazing performance by an amazing production, which still has more in store for the future.
This year’s BOH Cameronian Arts Awards was truly one of the best yet. Having stayed steadfast in its core goal of being a platform of competition and unity for the Malaysian performing arts industry, as well as attempting to push the boundaries of the Malaysian performing arts scene, BOH and Kakiseni have pleasantly surprised a previously disgruntled community of artistes, technicians, and producers, by once again creating the sense of inclusiveness and community that they originally stood for.
‘Til next year!