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The 14th Boh Cameronian Arts Award’s Best Of 2016 List Is Out!
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The 14th Boh Cameronian Arts Award’s Best Of 2016 List Is Out!

by Zim AhmadiApril 19, 2017

The 14th installment of this arts award show, organized by BOH Plantations Kakiseni, will be coming soon on the 7th of May. In the meantime, the judges have deliberated and as per the new format of the Cammies (the more affectionate term for the awards), the Best Of List has now been released.

What change of format, you ask? Well this year the Cammies have gotten rid of suffocating categorical barriers in order to raise the bar of artistic excellence. The shows on the “Best of 2016” list were selected by the panel of Award judges from across all performing arts categories. They came together to deliberate and make the final selection as democratically as possible.  To further encourage some sort of improvement, Kakiseni has also launched the #gamechangers social media campaign to run simultaneously with this year’s Awards, where Malaysian talents who have made their mark internationally would be highlighted. This includes the likes of Rani Moorthy, a UK-based theatre producer and filmmaker; Rendra Zawawi, a chart-topping music producer based in Los Angeles; and Kun Seng Keng Lion and Dragon Dance Association, the 11-time titleholder of the Genting World Lion Dance Championship.

As to the reasons for change, Caroline Russell, the CEO of BOH Plantations said at the press conference, “The intention is to look at continuing to see the arts award evolve. Nothing can stay the same over 14 years. The industry has matured to a point where we need to make some adjustments”.

This change, although controversial to many, is more focused towards providing more tangible benefits to the community. “Often, in our efforts to encourage more strategic partnerships between corporates and creatives, we find that many business entities don’t realise that they are entitled to receive tax benefits by supporting and investing in the arts”, afirms Low Ngai Yuen, the President of Kakiseni. “Starting this year, the Awards will be reinvented as a platform for producers to meet potential sponsors keen to financially back local performing art companies.”

The process of deliberation is adjudicated by a new panel of Executive Judges. Besides merely overseeing the 2016 judging process and appraising the subcategories for inclusion in the Awards, the Executive Judges are responsible for attending shows flagged for their exceptional quality for their consideration for next year’s “Best Of” List. Although what constitutes a show that is of “exceptional quality” was never really clarified, words like “woah” and “raising the bar” were predominantly thrown around.

Mervyn Peters, an award-winning musical director whose expertise includes Musical Direction and Production Design, sheds some light by stating, “I wanna see everything improve. I don’t want to hear Malaysians say ‘this is how we do it here’. We have too many excuses. Let’s make productions that can be accepted, by any international audience. You can plonk it anywhere, anywhere in the world. I don’t want to hear ‘we are a small production’. On stage it has nothing to do with money, you have to give the best of you. You have to go to your limits”.

Michael Xavier Voon, the longest serving judge for the Awards whose expertise includes Choreography and Ensemble Performance adds, “We always question what is the identity of the Malaysian arts scene. We don’t realize that it is as what it is now, instead of a label, so we are always struggling. I look for excellence, for the benchmark to be raised, so that anyone around the world who would watch it would go like “woah”. Not to say that the benchmark is out there, but everyone who watches it would like it spiritually, emotionally, psychologically”.

Never compromise. You are a creator. – Wong Oi Min

Some profound advice was also given by Dr Wong Oi Min. “I enjoy every show. I know everybody works hard. But to add on top to what was said, we cannot compromise on our set and prop. We are creators. We are artists”.

As is evident above, careful attention was given to the selection of Executive Judges. All of them are people that can be considered credible by art practitioners and so they consist of performing art veterans who were chosen for their exceptional credentials, experience, commitment and versatility – all well-known arts professionals from all four past categories (i.e. Dance, Music, Theatre and Musical Theatre).

Besides the ones aforementioned, we also have Colin Kirton, the artistic director of Kirton Call Productions, whose expertise includes Directing and Musical Direction; Foo Chi Wei, a dance practitioner with over 20 years experience whose expertise includes Choreography and Dance Performance; Patrick Jonathan, an internationally-performed composer whose expertise includes Singing and Instrumental Music, and Sandra Sodhy, a co-founding member of the Instant Cafe Theatre Company whose expertise includes Acting and Playwriting.

A few other things to note: there will be no fixed number of performances that would make the “Best Of” lists every year. The number of selections will be determined by the judges based on the calibre of the productions. Furthermore, there is still a small (albeit marginal) probability that someone can be awarded for an outstanding performance, even if the production is not on the “Best Of” list. In the event the judges determine the performance as exceptional enough to be considered, that is.

Without further ado here are the “Best of 2016” of the 14th BOH Cameronian Arts Awards:


Black & White @Variation Rerun 2016
Choreographed by Anthony Meh Kim Chuan &  Aman Yap Choong Boon
Presented by Dua Space Dance Theatre
Performed at Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC)

Black White


From Soho to Shinjuku, Half Man Half Myth

Choreographed by Loh Pit Fang & Low Ming Yam
Presented by Damansara Performing Arts Centre
Performed at Damansara Performing Arts Centre

Soho to Shinjuku


Into the Woods
Musical Direction by Shensation
Direted by Neil Ng
Presented by PAN Productions
Performed at KuAsh Theatre, TTDI

Into the Woods 


Richard III
Directed by Deric Gan Eng Kee 
Presented by The Actors Studio Seni Teater Rakyat & MUKA Space
Performed at Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre

Richard III


Shakespeare Goes Bollywood
Directed by Matthew Koh
Presented by The Actors Studio Seni Teater Rakyat & Big Nose Productions
Performed at Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC)

SGB


The Language Archive
Directed by Ghafir Akbar
Presented by PH7 Production Management Sdn. Bhd.
Performed at KuAsh Theatre, TTDI

Language Archive


If you want a synopsis of every play, check out Kakiseni’s Facebook or Twitter,

On the awards night on the 7th of May, there will be other awards given under subcategories such as Best Actor in a Supporting Role, best Set Design, etc.

A lot more can be discussed as to the transformation in the Cammies in their removal of categories. There are precedents in other countries, such as in Singapore; where the Cultural Medallionwidely recognised as Singapore’s pinnacle arts awards, has done away with categorisation according to art form.

The organizers have given their rationale to change the format – what do the rest of you have to say about it? Will the trimming down of categories be a motivation for productions to do better, or an impediment? Will this hamper diversity in the awards show? Is diversity important, and is that the responsibility of the Cammies? Leave a comment on our Facebook or Twitter.

About The Author
Profile photo of Zim Ahmadi
Zim Ahmadi
Head writer for Daily Seni. Eats surreal for breakfast.
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