Welcome to the 12th Boh Cameronian Arts Awards.
If your idea of a fun night out is an 80’s-themed party chock full of industry people then the Cammies is the right place to be.
Held at Soju in Sunway last Sunday, the event honored those in the performing arts over four categories, namely dance, music, musical theatre and theatre.
Now, let’s start with a question.
The Cammies should be televised, no?
This is an event that had David Arumugam from the Alleycats singing during the “in memoriam” segment.
It’s the only major performing arts awards in the country and it’s fair to call it Malaysia’s equivalent to the Tony Awards.
Big money is usually splashed on these things and it’s almost always a semi-interesting spectacle at the very least; something to leave on the TV while the family tucks into dinner.
“But everyone who would be interested in watching it in the first place would already be at the event,” argues multidisciplinary artist Joshua Batson.
Joshua is a 29 year-old American who has grown a fondness for local performing arts during his stopover in Malaysia. He found his way into the scene after participating in stage director/choreographer David Lim‘s contact improvisation jams.
That is not necessarily true, we respond to his statement.
Let’s not forget the ones who boycott the big night in honour of their own principles; these are the ones that hiss and spit whenever you mention the name of the ceremony but will get their phones out discreetly to refresh their twitter feeds during dinner elsewhere to find out who won what award.
Besides, who wouldn’t want to watch Low Ngai Yuen rock up in an 80’s bad girl outfit complete with a biker jacket? The young and vivacious Kakiseni president even busted out a few moves on the stage complete with backup dancers.
This mother of four (!!!) has been responsible for bringing the performing arts closer to Malaysian youth. Her efforts with Kakiseni has been lauded by many; she knows how to build an audience and it showed in this year’s Cammies.
Being at the ceremony however made us big critics of its execution.
Is the Cammies ready for television?
In hindsight, the 12th Boh Cameronian Arts Awards would have made for very awkward, uncomfortable TV.
Things started swimmingly enough, powered by Ngai Yuen’s energy and Papi Zak‘s amusing emceeing, but we hit a stumbling block as soon as the first awards category opened.
Nadia showed up approximately fifteen minutes later accompanied by Sharifah Amani and Nadiya Nisaa, all three decked in 80’s gear to great success and looking like three million dollars. We forgave them immediately.
Making things worse was the fact that the nominees in dance weren’t announced; they had their nominations flashing on the ceiling-height, multi-panel LCD screen at the back of the stage with practically zero fanfare.
It wasn’t until things progressed into the music category that emcee Papi Zak started picking up after the others. He began filling silences by reading out the nominations in each category, giving audiences a chance at cheering for their favourites.
But it was these little missteps that convinced us that the Cammies is, in fact, not ready for television.
“But you could have it pre-recorded and televised later,” suggested Joshua.
Hmmm. Fair enough.
What will help get the Cammies on television?
Perhaps it needs a scandalous personality of some sort; a homegrown version of Sinead O’ Connor to spice things up.
It must be noted that the Malaysian performing arts scene is filled with people so caught up with trying to appear like they don’t hate anyone.
Don’t keep the bitching behind-the-scenes, ladies (this is, of course, referring to the men). In order for the industry to work, you’ve got to take a few swipes at your arch-nemeses in an open arena.
After all, what else do you think we’re here for? To report on the fact that in some categories, only a single entity was nominated three times for different roles? We don’t want to talk about The Canticle Singers, we want our own Kanye.
If there’s something exciting to constantly keep an eye out for, all the technical issues become reduced to minor details.
We constantly panned about to look for things to watch during the lulls, but the only people catching our attention were the Disko Baldi posse. They sat on one side of the room with Sharifah Amani, Nadia Aqilah and the great Sofia Jane.
It felt like only the cool kids were allowed on that side of the tier.
“I wanna party with them!” noted Joshua. Consumed by the vision of Megat Sharizal in a Super Mario suit, we forgot for a moment about Joshua’s presence.
But we’ve gone off-tangent.
Also on the guest list was stage performer Shufitri Shukardi, who was seen hanging with the folk of Revolution Stage. Revolution Stage’s Asmara-RA AllStars nabbed Best Actor as well as the Audience Choice awards this year, further boosting the theatre group’s profile.
“Yeah, it’s still not ready for TV,” stated Shufitri cautiously. “I really liked being there but they could have made it more.”
Attending for the first time, Shufitri greatly enjoyed the feel of the venue as well as the video montages prepared by Kakiseni, but he was not too keen on the way awards were handed out one after the other.
Now don’t get us wrong; we loved being at the Cammies.
It was a whole lot of fun just hanging around and absorbing the vibe, and we’re not trying to bring Kakiseni down with this.
All we are saying is that it’s about time the performing arts gets the audience it deserves and Kakiseni, at present, is the only entity capable of realising this.
We are not asking for publicity stunts or wardrobe malfunctions; we just want personalities and good work on the stage. We want video clips of each nominated production and we want a whole lot more fanfare and hype built up for such an event.
We want everyone to start taking it seriously; as serious as the fun they intend to have at the afterparty.
We don’t want to just see Onn San on the dancefloor after 12am; we want all the tokoh senis there bopping along in their own capacity to Tony Basil‘s “Mickey”.
We want a diverse range of nominees, for there to be a wider net of shows to choose from. Multiple nominations for a single show? Sure, but we want to know that the judges have made the effort to watch all the other, smaller shows as well.
And to be honest, if we’re going to honour the not-as-accessible category of live classical/traditional music, then please open up a new category for stand-up comedy.
But that’s just what we want for the performing arts.
Despite it all, thank you Kakiseni for doing this in the first place.
Your efforts have not gone unrecognised, and regardless of what people may say about the brand, at the very least you lot are making things happen.
If you’re able to get your president on the stage and make her pull off early Madonna, imagine what else you’re able to do if you set your mind to it.
And on that note, we await the next installment of the Cammies.