Tuesday, 23 August 2016

NEWS FEED: The CXC Maths problem + Elaine’s world-record potential + Is Al Miller a ‘fall guy’?

MILLER’S CROSS TO BEAR: As prominent Kingston pastor Rev. Al Miller awaits sentencing for his involvement in the infamous Tivoli/Dudus affair that still haunts us as a nation, Miller’s very public ordeal is a major talking point in several quarters of society, not least among them the religious community, where there have been calls for a reversal of the guilty verdict to calls for him to step down as leader of Fellowship Tabernacle. Dr. Garnett Roper, however, senses more powerful forces at play. Could he be on to something? “Al Miller has taken the fall for a Jamaican political class and system of justice that knows only to prosecute one section of its population,” he wrote in stern newspaper column recently. “It is one thing to be a fall guy and somebody’s stool pigeon; it is a worse thing not to know that that is all you are.” Very strong words indeed.

WHAT THE NUMBERS MEAN: Can the blame for Jamaica’s 14.3 percent decline in CXC Mathematics passes this year be placed squarely on the mass exodus of qualified teachers in recent times? “It is estimated that 111 fully qualified teachers left the system in 2015. It is believed that many took up teaching opportunities overseas. Undoubtedly, this would have affected the preparation of a significant number of students,” Education minister Ruel Reid has said in response. “This loss would have had a significant impact on the ability of schools to maintain the standards of teaching and learning which would have been established particularly over the past four years.” Thankfully, there’s some good news: the education ministry is set to develop the Mathematics, Science and Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) teacher initiative to increase the number of fully qualified maths teachers.

HOW FAST CAN SHE GO? After copping the sprint double in Rio, what’s next for Jamaica’s sprinting sensation Elaine Thompson? Re-teaming with coach Stephen Francis to produce even more astonishing performances. “This year, I still think she can run probably 10.6. I’m not sure how many more times we are going to ask her to do the double. Maybe we will choose one over the other at the World Championships, but for next year and later this year, we have to focus on getting her to run as fast as we think she can run based on what we saw at the Trials and here [in Rio],” declares Francis, who thinks his student has world-record potential. “I think she has another 10th of a second in her, with decent breeze and temperature. Right now, she is better than she was at the Trials and hopefully by the end of the season, she will get a chance to show it.”

Saturday, 20 August 2016

COUNTRY STRONG: New St. Andrew Custos, Dr. Patricia Dunwell, champions national unity, spirit of volunteerism

WOMAN IN CHARGE: Dr. Dunwell accepts her instrument of appointment from Sir Patrick Allen during Thursday's ceremony.

After 49 years of marriage and serving organizations as diverse as the Stella Maris Foundation, the Board of Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities and the Stony Hill community training centre for girls, Dr. Patricia Ann Marshall Dunwell (a mother of two and grandmother of two) has learned what it takes to build strong families and even stronger communities. For her, it’s about holding fast to the simple courtesies.

“We build stronger families by caring for one another, learning how to forgive and learning to be real peacemakers. As soon as a quarrel develops you find a solution instead of allowing the situation to escalate. Going back to the old days of raising children right, we used to have ‘aunties’ and ‘uncles’ all around. It was never just my child or your child. As the saying goes, it takes a village,” she tells TALLAWAH, moments after being sworn in as the new Custos Rotolorum of St. Andrew, an important office to which she brings a wealth of experience, passion for making a difference and can-do spirit.

The swearing-in ceremony, attended by a who’s who of Jamaican government officials, colleagues and well-wishers, was held on the grounds of the Hope Botanical Gardens on Thursday afternoon. “I feel both honoured and humbled for the trust that has been placed in me, by appointing me to the office of Custos, and I am committed to working diligently and efficiently to execute the duties of this high office,” she said in her response to the appointment.

As Custos, Mrs. Dunwell is the chief magistrate and the Governor General’s representative in the parish, presiding over a lay magistrate body comprised of approximately 1,500 Justices of the Peace. “I urge and request the JPs and the business community to assist you with support, as you discharge your responsibilities, thus making this a successful tenure for you and the parish,” noted Governor General Sir Patrick Allen addressing Thursday’s ceremony. “I am placing in your hands all the Justices of the Peace of St. Andrew. Take care of them and they will take care of you,” he added.

A successful dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon (since 1990), who has given almost 20 years of service to the Kingston Public Hospital, Dr. Dunwell says her vision for the future development of the parish is nothing complex. “As your new Custos, [the role] comes with many areas of responsibility, but I am committed to the promotion of heightened mediation and conflict resolution across this diverse parish, helping our communities be the best they can be.”

The spirit of volunteerism, she says, is alive and well in the parish and Jamaica at large, and she remains hopeful that it will continue to play a vital role in the creation of ‘a better Jamaica’ – nation-building and family life fortified through the sharing of time, talent and treasure.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

‘RIO’ MOMENTS: Team Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson, Usain Bolt and Shericka Jackson savour their Olympic glory

SPEED SISTERS: Jamaica’s newest sprint queen Elaine Thompson (centre) likes the taste of her shiny Olympic gold medal, which she gives a playful bite while attending the medal ceremony for the Women’s 100M Final inside the Olympic Stadium at the ongoing Rio Olympics in Brazil on August 15. Also showing off their hard-won prizes: silver medallist Torie Bowie, left, of the United States and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who secured the bronze for Jamaica. (Photo: Getty Images/Zimbio.com) 

RUNNING MEN: Usain Bolt (centre) kick-started his Rio campaign for a historic third consecutive sprint treble, when he outshone the rest of the field to win the 100M gold. Unsurprisingly, he was all smiles on the medal podium, posing for photographers, next to worthy contenders Justin Gatlin (silver, USA) and Canada’s bronze-medal winner Andre DeGrasse, inside the Olympic Stadium. (Photo: Getty Images/Zimbio.com)

PEAK PERFORMERS: Day 10 of the Rio Summer Olympics is one Shericka Jackson (right) will never forget. The resilient Jamaican athlete poured her heart and soul into that performance in the Women’s 400M final inside the Olympics Stadium on Tuesday. For her sterling effort, in spite of the odds, Jackson copped the bronze medal for Jamaica, just behind America’s Allyson Felix (left), who won the silver and Bahamian wonder woman Shaunae Miller, who bagged the gold. Here the three outstanding athletes share a photo-op on the medal podium. (Photo: Getty Images/Zimbio.com)

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

GAMES PEOPLE PLAY: Tulloch’s 3some is a spicy, between-the-sheets romp

YOU DON'T KNOW MY NAME: Brown, Poyser and Thomas enjoy each other's company in this provocative new play.

David Tulloch’s 3some is a raunchy but highly entertaining dramedy that rekindles the playwright’s affair with the kind of theatre that seduces, satisfies and leaves you wanting more. It’s not David’s classiest hour, but it’s yet another example of him pushing the creative envelope as a writer and director, while introducing a bunch of relative newcomers who are not shy about putting it all out there.

Meet Kristian (Ackeem Poyser), a 30-something ladies’ man and entrepreneur who creates an app for singles looking for casual, anonymous sex. No strings attached. Things are going swimmingly well for until two sultry young ladies – bossy, career-driven Annabella (Sabrina Thomas) and bossy, power-driven Raina (Carline Brown) – sashay into his life, each with their own agendas. But, as it turns out, they’re all “acquainted.” So when the idea of a ménage à trois enters the picture, they go for it – a bit reluctantly at first, but ultimately these playmates can’t keep their hands off each other. 

As they say, be careful what you wish for. Within months Kristian’s world is topsy-turvy, and that’s when hidden agendas and frightful sexual tastes and appetites are pushed out into the open.

Exploring themes of temptation, sexuality, promiscuity and relationship dynamics in the age of rapid technological advancement, 3some not only brings the heat and some serious adult content (under 18s definitely not allowed); it raises big, bold-type questions about the dark side of human nature and what happens when things go from “casual” to “complicated” in matters of the heart.

Poyser, who bears a slight resemblance to dancehall hotshot Konshens, is a man full of energy and a pair of dramatic eyes that he puts to effective use. We love Thomas’ blend of sass, seductiveness and grit, while Brown plays Raina to a tee, crafting a character that keeps it real, ready to wage war for whatever and whomever she wants.

The theatre house’s small stage sometimes makes the action and set design feel a bit claustrophobic (ample space is key for a show to breathe), but what compensates, thankfully, is the effortless chemistry that floats among the three actors who disappear into their roles, bringing these desperate, driven and (sometimes) devious characters to life.

As a playwright/director/producer, you never know where David Tulloch’s creative juices will spur him next, but on this stop he serves up a spicy dish with something complex, something kinky, realistic and revelatory. And there’s always an app for that. Tyrone’s Verdict: B

Saturday, 13 August 2016

THE BEST OF HIS LOVE: David Tulloch shares the inspiration behind his most popular plays

TWO OF A KIND: Tulloch, with Prayer Partner star Chris McFarlane; (below) actors making a scene in Sins of the Flesh at Green Gables Theatre.

After 52 plays and counting (over 30 of them staged), have we seen the best of David Tulloch? Not by a longshot. This month, the 35-year-old agent provocateur brings to his audiences his latest potboiler, 3Some, that’s just as ‘hot-and-bothered’ as the title suggests. With such a diverse body of work to his credit, we couldn’t resist taking a trip down memory lane with the prolific storyteller, reflecting on some of his finest offerings to date:

WINE& ROSES: “In 2005, Totlyn Oliver came to me with a radio serial called The Days of Wine and Roses and asked me to convert it to a play. I can appreciate the cougar situation so I did. We’ve had about four remounts so far but I haven’t made any major changes to it. I believe that once you have a work that can stand the test of time you should run with it.”

PRAYER PARTNER: “This was originally staged in 2004. When I remounted it last year, I only added one new character. I can appreciate the nerd who wants to get the girl and will go to whatever lengths it takes. Everybody likes an underdog. A Part 2 might be in the works.”

RISQUE: “After I directed David Heron’s 4Play, it got four [Actor Boy] nominations, so I decided to write my own 4Play. I added the bit about the scammings and decided to push the envelope and go totally nude with the actors. It practically created a new genre in Jamaican theatre, and it was a new demographic that came out to see it.”

PATERNAL INSTINCT: “It’s from a personal theme of mine. At the time I wanted to be a father, so I decided to live vicariously through my pen. There’s a Part 2 for it as well, but this Part 1 is still getting a lot of requests.”

JAMAICA SWEET: “When I did Bay Vibes and MoBay Vibes with Dougie Prout, he told me that as a playwright, you should have at least one revue for yourself. Look out for Jamaica Sweeter coming soon. Not sure when though.”
SINS OF THE FLESH: “I didn’t know what I was thinking (Laughs). I think at the outset I intended for it to be like Risqué, but then I decided to create a nice drama out of it.”

FOR MY DAUGHTER: “I heard my father preaching about a similar situation one Sunday, so I took that as the premise. It’s based on the true story that I heard, but I fictionalized it a bit. Then Leonie Forbes took me up on my offer to come back on stage, so it was a done deal.” 

> 3Some plays at the Phoenix Theatre, New Kingston, Fridays to Sundays at 8pm. Tickets: 442-1669.

Friday, 12 August 2016

BEAUTY OF THE WEEK: St. Mary’s Monique Robb relishes new challenges, being true to herself

GLOW GIRL: I’m always looking for new ways to grow as an individual,” shares the 24-year-old go-getter.

There are no substitutes for diligence, compassion and anything that nurtures the creative spirit. That’s the kind of thinking that guides Monique Robb – and one she’s intent on passing on to her students at Trelawny’s Westwood High, where she currently teaches Language Arts. Robb’s love of vintage fashion, DIY stuff and blogging reflects her eclectic tastes, while her recent participation (repping St. Mary) in the Miss Jamaica Festival Queen competition (copping third place!) attests to her appetite for taking on bucket-list items that challenge her in new and exciting ways. 

PERSONALS – Age: 24; Hometown: Galina, St. Mary; Occupation: Teacher; Height: 5’6” 

Who do you admire and why? “I admire people like Professor Carolyn Cooper because she’s a strong Jamaican woman and very serious about her culture. I have learned a lot from her over the years – qualities like how to have a strong sense of self.” 

Describe your personal style: “I love vintage clothing but in recent times I’ve started to incorporate some modern and more mature looks in my wardrobe. I enjoy fashion but I prefer to take the minimalist approach.” 

Why do you wear makeup? “In my teenage years I suffered from a bad case of acne, and I suffered from hyperpigmentation as well. So wearing makeup I feel more confident and I feel that my scars are not on display. (Laughs). It’s also a means of expression. Today I’m feeling upbeat and funky so I chose to wear a bold red lip. Another day I might choose a different shade. It’s about what you’re in the mood for.” 
Why did you enter Miss Jamaica Festival Queen? “I entered to really challenge myself. I’m always looking for new ways to grow as an individual. And I entered because I want to give back to my parish and to Jamaica. It requires commitment and hard work and that’s what I’m about.” 

How do you spend your free time? “I love going to the beach. Being from St. Mary, I live near the sea, so I’m at the beach quite often. I listen to music and I have a personal blog, but I prefer to keep it private. And I’m a big DIY-er. I love to sew, painting and bookbinding. I just enjoy being creative.” 

What’s in store for the future? “Professionally, I’d love to segue into a media career. I see myself writing a weekly column for one of our local newspapers and maybe branching off into television.” 

What’s the philosophy that guides your life? “It’s an Ubuntu saying by Nelson Mandela: “How can I be happy when my brother is hungry?” 

> INTERVIEW: Meet 2016 Festival Queen winner, Kyesha Randall!

CHAT ’BOUT: Stephen Francis on the Fraser-Pryce/Thompson ‘rivalry’, Ronald Jackson on disaster mitigation, and more

“[The rivalry] doesn’t affect me. Our camp is one where we train people to beat the ones that are already established because I believe that is one way to keep the ones that are already established on their toes. If they can’t manage that kind of pressure, they will drop by the wayside. But that is the way I believe things are to be done. We always have youngsters who come up to challenge those who are already established, and I hope that will always be the case. You try your best not to pick favourites and ensure that everyone understands it’s a performance thing.” – MVP head coach, Stephen Francis, assessing the rivalry between his firebird sprinters Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson, who are both competing at the Rio Olympics this summer

“I do believe that a lot of work has gone into the operational apparatus in various countries. There are gaps in terms of the resources and the coordination of a joint government approach, which needs to be strengthened. The fact that we have a lot of coastal communities across the Caribbean is going to put a lot of pressure on the ability of the existing resources to be able to deal with the demands that can be generated beyond the scale and scope of a category one hurricane or tropical storm.” – Ronald Jackson, Executive Director of the Caribbean Development Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), on strengthening emergency services across the region through increased investments

“I am extremely pleased with and surprised by the amount of work that our Brazilian friends have put into the Games. They have now become the benchmark for what other developing countries can do. Expectations are always high when it comes to our athletes, but we should put all this in perspective and understand that once they perform to the best of their abilities that is victory in itself.” – Maurice Wilson, technical leader of Jamaica’s squad at the Rio Olympics, anticipating a strong medal haul

“Education has been, for me, a partnership exercise. No matter how much money we spend from the national budget, we will need to spend more. It is the most valuable and rewarding investment that any country or company can do. Our children deserve the best education possible and, as such, we must not compromise.” – PM Andrew Holness addressing Tuesday’s launch of the National Bakery Foundation’s Little Leaders Programme at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston