Friday, 15 March 2019

LIFE SAVERS: Leading equipment supplier Medical Link playing their part to improve healthcare in Jamaica

TESTING: Walker and Minister Dr. Chris Tufton try out one of the devices.

IF Lainsworth Walker has his way, Jamaica’s hospitals and medical centres would be equipped with the latest and most effective machines and other tools to save lives. That’s why for the second consecutive year, Walker and his team at Medical Link, a leading supplier and distributor of medical equipment in the region, have put on the Caribbean Medical Devices Exhibition (CME).

The two-day event brings together manufacturers from all over the world to display their newest offerings for the benefit of hospital administrators and other personnel. “We work with the hospitals, and we noticed a disconnect between the administrators and the clinical team. Members of the clinical team usually go overseas to attend conferences and seminars, where they are introduced to some of the best and latest equipment, but when they return home they don’t have those resources to work with, and it gets frustrating,” Walker tells TALLAWAH.

“So we figured why not put on a show here. Every year millions of dollars are spent on equipment, and then they work for like two months. So the idea is to put on the show and invite manufacturers to display equipment, so that administrators and doctors can come and see the equipment and test the equipment before purchase.”

This year’s exhibition (returning to the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, March 14 and 15) features manufacturers from Czechoslovakia, Germany, Ireland, Denmark, the United States and China.

Klaus Kanje, sales manager at David Medical, one of the Chinese companies, says the exhibition has been good for business. “This is our second time participating because last year was a great success, and we decided that this is a useful way to promote our products,” says Kanje, whose company supplies paediatric equipment. “All of the incubators and infant radiant warmers at Spanish Town Hospital were bought from our company. Medical Link is our distributor here and they have a great team to work with.”
In addition to incubators and infant radiant warmers, patrons (including nurses, doctors, students, members of the public) learned about cardioholters and cardio cards (by Nasiff Associates), blood pressure and blood gas devices, radiometers and foot sanitizers (by Infinium).

Walker, Technical Director of the 16-year-old Medical Link, says the CME is already showing signs of growth. “Last year we had it for one day; this year it’s two days and we’ve doubled the number of registered persons. We have people from Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, Cayman and we also have some Cuban doctors,” Walker notes, adding that they’ve added seminars and workshops to the 2019 schedule, including a presentation on challenges in hospital administration.

Looking ahead, their goal is singular. “We want to see some of this equipment going into the hospitals,” says Walker, “so that healthcare can be better in Jamaica.”








Thursday, 14 March 2019

DANCING AH YARD: Samuels’ 56 East Avenue is an explosive, entertaining affair

'ENA' EVERYTHING: Reid is amused but Samuels is not in this scene.

56 East Avenue (OSE Productions)
Director: Oliver Samuels and Dennis Titus
Cast: Volier Johnson, Audrey Reid, Dennis Titus, Lakeisha Ellison and Oliver Samuels
Venue: Phoenix Theatre, New Kingston

EARLY in the funny new play 56 East Avenue, resident busybody Ena (Audrey Reid) proclaims, “This is a tenement yard. Everybody’s business is everybody’s business.” You see what she means. 

Sharing such a tiny communal space, the five residents hardly have the luxury of harbouring secrets. Consequently, the yard is a hotbed of conflict, fertile ground for meddlesome gossipers like Ena, a carry-go-bring-come extraordinaire, to thrive. 

Unsurprisingly, she is in constant scrapes and verbal clashes with the others – chiefly Mas Benji (Oliver Samuels, terrific), the 70-year-old landlord whose efforts to collect his monthly rent easily run up his blood pressure.

56 East Avenue is also home to Jah D (Dennis Titus), a devout Rastafarian who runs an ital food establishment in the community and Ena’s dream lover. Never mind that she is still shacked up with common-law husband Jeremiah (Volier Johnson), a hustler whose goods-for-sale are not always acquired by honest means.

Rounding out the solid five-member cast is Merdel (played by Lakeisha Ellison), a nice Christian girl pursuing higher education while holding down a steady job. Ambitious and well-liked by the men in the yard, she is the bane of Ena’s existence. Smartly, Merdel always takes the high road. Hard to believe, but Merdel, like almost everybody else, is concealing something dark from her past.

But this is 56 East Avenue, where nothing remains hidden for very long. And once the play hits its explosive climax, members of the audience will have to take cover. 

Envy, pride, dignity, karma – it’s all explored here with ample wit, wisdom and keen observations about Jamaican life then and now. A superior product to Frenemy, Samuels’ last offering, 56 East Avenue is a most entertaining place to be. Tyrone’s Verdict: B+








Tuesday, 12 March 2019

THE TALLAWAH INTERVIEW: Aisha Davis talks about bliss, her blessings and bringing a new character to life

SITTING PRETTY: "It took me out of my comfort zone," Davis says of playing Lisa in this season's Special Cuts.

WHEN Aisha Davis says there’s so much joy in her life that she laughs a lot, it isn’t hard to see why. First off, she’s back on stage (playing firecracker Lisa in the sizzling dramedy Special Cuts), she has a soulful new EP in the works, and lately she’s been seeing a hot younger man. But, as we promised, our lips are sealed. And don’t even bother asking how old she is. Here, the talented Miss Davis goes on the record, as she dishes with TALLAWAH at the Phoenix Theatre.

TALLAWAH: Your new play, Special Cuts, is about family, facing the mistakes of your past and friendships. What qualities do you most admire in friends?
Aisha Davis: Honesty. I like people who are genuine. I like good, positive energy and people who are just fun to be around.

TALLAWAH: So what’s your philosophy on dating and relationships?
 Aisha Davis: There has to be chemistry and, of course, physical attraction (Laughs). We have to communicate on some level. Trust in a relationships is also very important for me. Without those it won’t work.

TALLAWAH: Earlier this season you co-starred in What Goes Around. But the last time we saw you on stage you were starring in JMTC’s Dreamgirls. You were playing Deena. And that was over a decade ago. How does it feel to be back?
Aisha Davis: I was a bit nervous, to be honest with you, because it’s been so long! But it feels great. When I did What Goes Around, we had like two rehearsals, but my castmates were very welcoming, very helpful. It was also my first time working with Sabrina [Thomas], and it’s been fun. 

TALLAWAH: And you’re working with her again on this new show. What drew you to Special Cuts?
Aisha Davis: I loved the story. The process of bringing this character [Lisa] to life has been challenging but a great learning experience because there are so many sides to her. She’s a complex character, but I could relate to a lot of what she’s been through, like being abused. It took me out of my comfort zone.

TALLAWAH: Interesting. Speaking of your comfort zone, when was the last time you connected with L’Antoinette Stines and your L’Acadco family?
Aisha Davis: Oh, my. I was actually with them recently for orientation, as they welcomed the new members. I’m still a part of the family. I was a dancer with the troupe for 13 years, and I was also dance captain. Once a L’Acadco member always a member. And as long as L’Antoinette needs me to come in to help with a piece or maybe teach a class, I’ll make myself available.

TALLAWAH: You’ve evolved so much as a triple threat: dancer, singer, actress. What do you most want out of life now?
 Aisha Davis: As a recording artiste, it’s about getting recognition having put in the work. It’s a wide landscape out there, but I’m not competing with anyone but myself. I just want to do good music. But I do wish I had a team, an engine, behind me. And I guess that’s the major thing, the machinery to further push my music career.

TALLAWAH: Tell us about the EP you’re currently working on?
Aisha Davis: It’s called Cinnamon. I was hoping to release it in time for spring, but because of schedule constraints it’s been pushed back. But when it comes put you’ll love it. It’s a mixture of soulful and that nice groovy reggae vibe. Good stuff.

TALLAWAH: Sounds promising. How do you measure your happiness these days? What makes Aisha truly happy?
Aisha Davis: I’ve been blessed with an extraordinary life. I’ve had some wonderful people who have entered my life. Sometimes you can’t help but feel overwhelmed. But I’m very grateful. I try to stay positive; I laugh a lot. The Bible says, ‘Count it all joy.’ So even when something bad happens, you learn from it.








Monday, 11 March 2019

NEWS & NOTES: Media association elects new executive … More free Wi-Fi spots for rural J’ca … National Gallery accepting submissions for summer exhibition

ART OF THE MATTER: The National Gallery of Jamaica is now accepting submissions for the 2019 Summer Exhibition. The invitation is open to all artists resident in Jamaica, all Jamaican artists resident abroad, and artists of direct Jamaican parentage living abroad. Artists may submit up to two works for exhibition, and the works should have been completed within the last three years. Deadline for submission: Monday, April 8. The selection committee will be comprised of two local judges and one international judge. Entry categories include painting, drawing (pastel and watercolor included), original print, collage, photography, sculpture (including assemblage), installations, ceramic, fibre art, audio-visual, and performance. Visit nationalgalleryofjamaica.wordpress.com for more information. The 2019 Summer Exhibition opens on July 28 and will be on view through October 27.

MEET THE PRESS: Managing Director of The Gleaner Company, Christopher Barnes, has been re-elected Chairman of the Media Association of Jamaica (MAJ), which is led by a nine-member executive comprising representatives from six independently owned media businesses. The elected Vice-Chairs are Debbian Dewar (Grove Broadcasting/Irie RM) and Steve Billings (SunCity Radio). Rounding out the executive: Dennis Howard (Radio Jamaica), Claire Grant (TV-J), Keith Campbell (Public Broadcasting Corporation), D’Adra Williams (Zip 103 FM), Kenneth Grant (Nationwide News Network) and Danville Walker (Jamaica Observer). Andrea Messam (treasurer) and Shena Stubbs-Gibson (secretary) have retained their respective posts. The association has vowed to continue to fight the good fight. “The media landscape in Jamaica is fraught with issues which will erode the sustainability of the industry if not addressed through a collective effort,” the body said in a release. “A free and sustainable media is crucial for maintaining democracy.”

GETTING CONNECTED: The Universal Service Fund (USF) will be increasing the number of free Wi-Fi zones across the island, as part of a drive to facilitate greater internet access for Jamaicans. Kwan Wilson, the USF’s Director of Projects, says St. James and Portland are among the rural parishes now being targeted for new Wi-Fi sites. Secure, public hotspots are already available in high-traffic areas in Manchester, St. Elizabeth and the Corporate Area, allowing citizens to use the web at little or no cost for research, bill payments, educational processes and social networking, etc.








Monday, 4 March 2019

THE MEASURE OF A MAN: Two theatre stalwarts pay tribute to the late great Aston Cooke

IN MEMORIAM: Cooke was known was for his work with the Jamaica Youth Theatre and the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission, among others.

THE sudden death, at age 61, of playwright, former JCDC Chairman, Miss Jamaica World co-franchise holder and noted cultural authority Aston Cooke has met with a wave of glowing tributes from esteemed colleagues and those who knew him best. Here, two of the theatre industry’s most important contemporary voices remember him. 

>> For David Tulloch, Cooke was a dear friend and mentor 
“Aston introduced me to theatre at the age of six. The production was Snow White & the Seven Dwarves. Then [we did] Schools’ Drama Festival at Wolmer’s Boys School. Since then, he became a leader, mentor and dear friend. I am going to miss him.” 

>> Basil Dawkins admired Cooke’s persistence and resourcefulness
“One of the most admirable things about Aston was the sacrificial way that, against much odds, he, along with Quindell Ferguson, kept Schools’ Drama Festival alive. If there was any job in theatre most thankless it was the effort to keep Schools’ Drama Festival up and running. And against those odds, and with very little resources, he did it. The Jamaica Youth Theatre, which came out of Schools’ Drama Festival, in a short time became a force to be reckoned with. I hope both organizations will grow from strength to strength in his memory. My condolences to his family and friends.” 

Our Farewell Tribute: TALLAWAH reflects on Aston Cooke’s life and legacy








NEW ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Rachael Allen makes the leap from drama-school grad to rising thespian

HEAD STRONG: Allen, 29, has always had a flair for the dramatic.

BACKSTAGE at New Kingston’s Centrestage Theatre on this warm and busy Wednesday night, Rachael Allen is reflecting on the time she’s spent, since graduating from School of Drama, finding her place in the local theatre industry. “It’s been a long and tedious journey for me,” she tells TALLAWAH, recalling some frustrating moments. “But I love theatre; I love performance art.”

What a difference patience and persistence makes. These days, Allen (who graduated from the Edna Manley College with a theatre-arts degree in 2015) is off to a promising start in her acting career. And we’re beyond impressed.

In addition to working with the LTM Pantomime Company for 2017’s Dapper Dan, she was cast as the feisty helper Precious in last season’s remount of Basil Dawkins’ Uptown Bangarang, earning a Thespy nod for Breakthrough Performance.

At the moment, she is performing for her largest commercial-theatre crowds yet, having landed a supporting role in Jambiz’s new musical comedy Romi & Julie, which runs until summer. “I’ve been a part of their workshop for a while, working with [director Trevor] Nairne,” she says. “And when they started casting for this show, I was asked if it was something I’d be able to do. I’m excited to see what it will lead to.”

At 29, Allen, who has performed in drama-school productions of such classics as Lynn Nottage’s Ruined and Oedipus by Sophocles, is the working mother of a nine-year-old daughter who attends Kingston’s Alvernia Preparatory, where Allen teaches dance classes. 

In conversation, she comes across as a remarkably intelligent young woman who wants to help other young and emerging talents get opportunities for growth and development. “Ultimately, I want to open an alternative academy to give options to students who may not by academically inclined,” shares the Immaculate Conception alumna, who also volunteers with Kingston Creative. “I’m also interested in art therapy, which can help introduce children with learning disabilities to normal society.”








Friday, 1 March 2019

2019 THESPIAN SPIRIT AWARDS: Winners' List

OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLE CAST
Belly Woman
Black Sheep
Case of the Ex
* Sugar Daddy - WINNER
Uptown Bangarang

OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A LEAD ROLE
Jean-Paul Menou – The Owl & The Pussycat
Ricardo McFarlane – As He Watches
Jason Richards – Belly Woman
Rashiem Shepherd – One Blood
David Tulloch – Sugar Daddy - WINNER

OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A LEAD ROLE
Samantha Brevett – Sugar Daddy
Dahlia Harris – Case of the Ex
Maylynne Lowe – Uptown Bangarang
Rosie Murray – The Innocence of Guilt: The Mary Lynch Story - WINNER
Nadean Rawlins – The Owl & The Pussycat

OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Glen Campbell – Romi & Julie
* Everaldo Creary – Black Sheep  - WINNER
Rolando Fagan – Sugar Daddy
Kevin Halstead – All Aboard
Michael Nicholson – What Goes Around

OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Alexandra Gregory – Case of the Ex
Ruth HoShing – Uptown Bangarang
Keisha Patterson – Romi & Julie
Sabrina Thomas – What Goes Around
* Trishana Wright – Sugar Daddy - WINNER

OUTSTANDING WRITER
Fabian Barracks – Black Sheep
Patrick Brown – Romi & Julie
* Orville Hall – From Den Till Now  - WINNER
Dahlia Harris – Case of the Ex
David Tulloch – Sugar Daddy

BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE
Rachael Allen – Uptown Bangarang
Kevin Broomfield – Black Sheep
* Rolando Fagan – Sugar Daddy - WINNER
Donovan Stewart – All Aboard
Trishana Wright – Sugar Daddy

OUTSTANDING DIRECTOR
Robert ‘Bobby’ Clarke – All Aboard
Pablo Hoilett – The Owl & The Pussycat
E. Wayne McDonald – Uptown Bangarang
David Tulloch – Sugar Daddy 
* Eugene Williams – Ti Jean & His Brothers  - WINNER

The LOUISE M. DUNK Lifetime Achievement Award: 
Franklyn ‘Chappy’ St. Juste