Friday, 31 December 2010

THEATRE SPOTLIGHT: Highlights from ‘I Take This Man’ @ Theatre Place, New Kingston

LUST AND OTHER DRUGS: Fantasy and deep-seated desperation bubble to the surface in I Take This Man, a wickedly funny and smartly acted adaptation of the play by Jack Sharkey, starring Terri Salmon, Clive Duncan and Keiran King, and directed by Pablo Hoilett. The Theatre Place, New Kingston. Check out some photo highlights below.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

JUICY NEW MEMOIR: Did HORACE PETERKIN really turn up at work in his underpants?! Buy and read his book

STORYTELLER: New author Horace Peterkin shares his incredible life story in just-released memoir.

What’s a man to do when no one will believe his side of the story that almost destroyed his life? Write a tell-all book. In his hilariously titled new memoir, The Day I Went to Work in My Underpants: My Sandals Story (recently launched in Kingston), former tourism hotshot-turned-author Horace Peterkin explores and illuminates (with wit and humour) his very interesting life story, including a 7-week stint in the loony bin at the UWI Hospital’s infamous Psych Ward. He exclusively tells TALLAWAH his reasons for writing the book – and how it’s already changing lives.

Why was it important to write this book? What was your goal?
The genesis of the book is that it was written while I was incarcerated against my will at the University Hospital of the West Indies, Ward 21. It came about as a way to keep my sanity because I was being accused of being mentally unstable, suffering from bipolar disorder, which is all nonsense. And one of the ways I felt that I could keep my right sanity was to write. I ended up writing four books while I was there, including this one.

That’s quite an amusing title for a book.
the reason I gave it that name is because somebody, who shall remain nameless, said I was out of mind and turned up at work [at Sandals, one day] in my drawers. It’s a very interesting title and entails a lot of curiosity. I got so many comments about it when I first put it up on Facebook. But the cutest one came from an old lady, who asked, ‘Tell me something, Mr. Peterkin. But at anytime did you take off those underpants?’

What was your biggest lesson learned during your 27-year sojourn with the Sandals chain?
How to handle crises, because working in that kind of environment, in a hotel, is both very labour-intensive and capital-intensive. And you have to deal with two sets of people. Indeed, you have to deal with the clients or the guests, who have all kinds of needs and expectations, and some are reasonable, some are unreasonable. You’re also dealing with a staff that performs well sometimes, and that can cause all kinds of problems. So you have to constantly try and create that balance. So with that kind of job, one of the main things is that you have to flexible and multi-skilled. It actually forces you to be multi-talented.

As a boss, what is the venerable Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart like?
On the positive side, he is extremely passionate; he makes decisions very quickly. I have worked for other international organisations, but when you go to ‘Butch’ Stewart with a suggestion, he thinks about it for two seconds, and if it is something he feels will work, he will tell you to go with it right away. And he gives you the resources to do it; that is why Sandals is ahead of everybody else. It takes him absolutely no time at all to make a decision. [On the other side], he tends to get impatient sometimes, and he needs to learn how to create that balance because it gets him in trouble sometimes.

You said that the book is interspersed with numerous anecdotes to make readers laugh their heads off. Give me an example.
There is one called ‘Murder in the Hotel Room,’ about a guest who it was believed was having heart problems while his room was locked and nobody could get in. It’s a really funny story. And I have a lot of other stories about death and murder and lust that are really hilarious.

Who will benefit the most from reading this book?
It’s a book for everybody, but the only reason it might not be suitable for young kids is that there is some sex in there, but not very overt. There was one lady at the launch who said that after reading the book there were little things she could write down to take back and apply to her organisation or in her home. So I realised that this book is having a bigger impact than I imagined.

So, finally, did you really turn up at work in your underpants?
Read the book (Laughs).

THEATRE REVIEW: Complicated relationship comedy-drama ‘A State of Affairs’ runs hot and cold

I CONFESS: Jerry Benzwick and Sakina Deer play a couple in crisis in A State of Affairs.

A State of Affairs (Basil Dawkins’ Productions)
Douglas Prout
Jerry Benzwick, Ruth HoShing, Sakina Deer and Rishille Bellamy-Pelicie
Little Little Theatre, Kingston

Tyrone’s Verdict:

The encapsulating title suits the compounded
A State of Affairs, Basil Dawkins’ latest stage piece, which opened at the Little Little Theatre in Kingston last Monday evening. It’s an amalgam of several strands of film and theatre storylines, exploring matters of the heart and relationships in both the physical and emotional sense. Dealing with addiction, honesty, trust and contemporary notions on cheating, it’s entertaining and keenly observed and walks a crisp line between daring drama and side-splitting comedy. But you can’t shake the feeling that this time around Dawkins and Prout are barely scratching the surface.

We meet crazy-in-love med salesman Tony Fisher (Benzwick), a self-professed playboy, who despite declaring his love for his “world-class” knockout wife of two years, Liz (Sakina Deer) ends up cheating on her. Realizing that she’s discovered his infidelity, he quickly fesses up (according to his genius of a mother, “honesty is the best policy”).

When Liz threatens to deny his request to bear him children, Tony decides he must demonstrate that he can be monogamous. His quest to curb his philandering ways leads him to a church-run counselling ministry, where he meets the affable, good-natured Miss Fenton (Pelicie), who takes a shine to him and agrees to add him to her list of clients. But her old-fashioned superior, the church busybody Inez Grossett (HoShing), is immediately suspicious of this set-up and quickly dismisses Tony as another time-waster. We all have an Inez Grossett in our place of work, worship or, God forbid, in our homes.

Benzwick and Deer burn bright with passion, physical and verbal, and they manage to come off as engaging even when the script turns formulaic, insisting on predictable scenarios and contrived obstacles. The actors look fantastic, and there’s lots of eye candy in early scenes, particularly the opening montage that features Tony and Liz clad in sexy yet tasteful bedwear. Pelicie and HoShing are highly commendable, too, especially HoShing, who plays Mrs. Grossett so convincingly that at times I forgot I was watching an actress.

Having come a long way since belting out numbers in musicals by the Jamaica Musical Theatre Company (JMTC) and Father HoLung and Friends, Deer is morphing into an adventurous actress. Benzwick showed a soulful side in this year’s terrific
Against His Will, in which he and Deer, coincidentally, also played lovers grappling with a crisis. Both have a flair for gripping drama, but are actors of limited comedic chops.

The play’s exploration of extra-marital affairs (physical and emotional) in the age of social networking and the proliferation of the internet, while respectful, feels superficial. The realities of affairs in the virtual realm are hinted at but not fully explored.

The Dawkins-Prout duo is experienced in analyzing intimate human relationships, including last year’s excellent
For Better or Worse. Their jab at the spectrum of affairs in today’s world feels less toothy in comparison. A State of Affairs is insightful and engaging (with clever lighting and a superb set design from Robin Baston), but the play unevenly joins the sentimental with the sardonic.

FOUR PLAY: Ruth HoShing, Jerry Benzwick, Sakina Deer and Rishille Bellamy-Pelicie in A State of Affairs.

FAMILY MATTERS: ZIGGY MARLEY takes the wife and kids out for holiday breakfast in Los Angeles

The family that dines together…

Reggae superstar Ziggy Marley treated his expectant wife, Orly (who is poised to give birth to their fifth child any day now,) and two of their kids (daughter Judah and son Gideon) to Sunday morning breakfast at the uber-chic Urth Café in LA on December 26.

It’s been a minute since we’ve spotted the Marley sub-clan out and about, so this sighting is rather special. Earlier this year, the multi-Grammy winner opened up to Culture magazine about creating his new comic book superhero, Marijuanaman.

“[The comic book] is coming along good. It’s a concept [designed] to educate people about the plant and using it as a resource beyond just the medical purposes. There are many more beneficial uses,” Marley told the mag, also dishing details on his decision to release new music online via his new Wild & Free singles series. “Each song is totally different. I am going to get there, though. It’s also about involving friends and seeing what they say and think and to see what the next songs are going to be like. It’s an experiment, and I don’t have [a] formula yet.”

2011 JAMAICA JAZZ and BLUES PREVIEW: Soul songbird Laura Izibor basks in music for the mind and spirit

FREE SPIRIT: Laura Izibor to bring her musical magic to the Jamaica Jazz & Blues stage.

If Jill Scott and Maxwell had a love child, she would very likely be the result. Poised between girldom and full-fledged womanhood, soul singer Laura Izibor proves worthy of the hype that envelopes her name in the industry. When the 23-year-old Dublin-born singer (born to an Irish mother and Nigerian father) released her debut album, Let the Truth Be Told, in 2009, it peaked at number two on the charts and was unanimously praised by both listeners and critics, who anointed her one of the standout new voices bringing real R&B back to the airwaves.

The album (released via Atlantic Records) is a suave, sensitive record full of subtle pleasures and vintage soul, buoyed by the singer’s mesmerizing voice. It spawned radio-friendly chart climbers like her debut single “From My Heart to Yours” and the follow-up track “Don’t Stay.” (My hands-down joint, however, is the stirring “If Tonight Is My Last.”

Izibor, who cites James Brown, Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone as her inspirations and musical heroes, has opened on tour for people like India.Arie, Maxwell and John Legend. Since then, the singer-songwriter and remarkable pianist has branched off into acting, appearing recurrently on the hit CW show One Tree Hill, as Erin Macree. Her haunting single “What More Can They Do” appears on the soundtrack to Tyler Perry’s latest film For Colored Girls.

MORE: TALLAWAH review of Laura Izibor’s Let The Truth Be Told

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

THEATRE SPOTLIGHT: Highlights from ‘A State of Affairs’ @ Little Little Theatre, Kingston

WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING TO US, DEAR: Dealing with addiction, honesty, trust and contemporary notions on cheating, Basil Dawkins' A State of Affairs is mostly entertaining and keenly observed and walks a crisp line between daring drama and side-splitting comedy.

PM BRUCE GOLDING: Out and About with the Prime Minister

KIDDIE FUN: Prime Minister Bruce Golding, with a little help from Santa Claus, share in the West Kingston Children’s Christmas treat recently. The children from the Tivoli Gardens, Denham Town, Mid-Town, Hannah Town and Fletchers Land communities were delighted to spend some time with their Member of Parliament. They were treated to goodies, giveaways and entertainment.

ALL TOGETHER: Prime Minister Bruce Golding and Mrs. Golding pose with the children, ages 10 to 16, who were part of the panel for the December 22 episode of Jamaica House Live, which was dedicated to children. Left to right (front row) are: Deandra Williams, Mico Practicing Primary and Junior High; Najae Martin, St. Mary High; Vanessa Cousins, Glenhope Girls Home; Tanesa Osbourne, Mico Practicing Primary and Junior High; Kagale Stewart, SOS Herman Gmeiner; Children’s Advocate Mary Clarke. Back row (left-right): Terrence Phang, Trench Town High; Zachary Smith, Jamaica College; Jamar Gordon, Kingston College; Krystal Reynolds, Immaculate Conception.

GROUP HUG: These children are happy to be sharing with Prime Minister Bruce Golding at the recent West Kingston Children’s Christmas treat. The children of the Tivoli Gardens, Denham Town, Mid-Town, Hannah Town and Fletchers Land communities spent the day being entertained and receiving treats and goodies from their Member of Parliament.

SENIOR MOMENT: Prime Minister Bruce Golding (West Kingston MP) addresses seniors who turned out for a treat in their honour at the Tivoli Gardens Community Centre on Tuesday, December 21. The seniors were treated to health checks, gift packages, lunch and live entertainment by a mento band.

KINDRED 'SPIRITS': Prime Minster Bruce Golding greets board member of National Rums of Jamaica, Howard Hamilton, at the official opening of a new distillery at Clarendon Rums of Jamaica, Monymusk Estate, recently. The facility is giving a boost to the local distilling industry having received part funding from the European Union and secured international business partners in the spirits industry. At second left is Chairman of the West Indies Rum and Spirits Producers Association, Dr. Frank Ward, and Vice President (Procurement) of Diageo Americas, Rick Thielen.

RUM TALK: European Union Ambassador Marco Mazzocchi Alemmanni (far left) toured Clarendon Rums’ new distillery on the Monymusk Estate with Prime Minister Bruce Golding (second left) recently. National Rums received funding from the European Union and attracted partners from Guyana, Barbados and the UK. At second right is Managing Director of National Rums of Jamaica, Evon Brown, and at far right is Chairman of National Rums of Jamaica, Dr. John Taylor.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

JERRY BENZWICK stretches out to show comedic side in ‘State of Affairs’, hunts double Actor Boy nominations

BEING BENZWICK: The actor tackles his most challenging role yet in Basil Dawkins' A State of Affairs, which opens Monday at the Little Little Theatre in Kingston.

Chalk it up to artistic perfection. After wowing audiences with his thoroughly convincing turn in Against His Will earlier this year, actor Jerry Benzwick yearns to pull off his most demanding role yet. The of-the-moment leading man, who is already garnering awards season buzz as the frontrunner in the Actor Boy best actor race, appears next in Basil Dawkin’s A State of Affairs, which opens Monday at the Little Little Theatre in Kingston. Entering familiar domestic territory, he portrays a husband who is shocked to discover his wife’s infidelity.

“[With this new role], I am doing comedy; I have never done comedy before. I’ve been in comedic situations. I’ve played characters with comedy elements that come out in the drama. But from I left Edna Manley I’ve been doing drama,” states Benzwick, who enjoys the difficulty of mastering a character before going on to dominate authoritatively. This time, though, he may have met his match.

“I think my breakthrough came when I fell into a deep rut. My mother called and asked me what was going on. I told her that I can’t manage this piece. It’s stressing me out. She said I should talk to somebody who might understand, so I said, ‘I’m gonna call Glen (Campbell)’,” he explains. “I know Glen very well, and he is a comedic actor with years of experience. So I decided to call him and ask him for some advice. And Glen said, ‘Just go with your mad head, trust yourself and let the director fix the rest.’ And when he told me that, then I started relaxing more, and I started doing different things.”

For director Douglas Prout, who quickly noticed the change in Benzwick’s approach to the part, all the actor needs to do is simply lose himself, something he accomplished quite remarkably (coincidentally under Prout’s direction) in Against His Will as computer salesman Daniel Bryan, who brings sexual assault charges against his female boss. “The director said, ‘Jerry, I see that you are getting into that place where you should be getting, and I need you to fast-forward the process now that you’re getting it and run in with it.”

Rounding out the cast for A State of Affairs are seasoned stage talent Ruth HoShing, Rishille Bellamy-Pelicie and Sakina Deer, who also co-starred in Against His Will. “With the cast now, they have recognized [my] struggle. They didn’t know exactly what was going on with me, but I talked to them, I told them.”

While digging deeper into the role, Benzwick was spent physically, emotionally and mentally. But it wasn’t all pain, considering that the payoff has been ultimately gratifying. “My next breakthrough came when I found out what my real objective was, what was I playing,” he explains. As for the play itself, without giving away too much, he notes that it will keep viewers on the edge till the conclusion. “The play is one that does not reveal the hundred percent of what is really going on until the very end. But everything is there for you to feel and recognize the situation at hand: this is a man who is in love with his wife, and she cheated, but the question is why.

As a playwright, Dawkins is known for cooking up storylines that both entertain and challenge viewers. So whatever the outcome of A State of Affairs, the audience, I’m sure, will probably never view relationships – or Jerry Benzwick – the same way again.

COMING SOON: The Theatre Year in Review: The Highlights and Duds of 2010

JAMAICA HOUSE SPOTLIGHT: Out and About with PM Bruce Golding

CHARMED: Prime Minister Bruce Golding greets Managing Director of Ian Randle Publishers, Christine Randle, who presented the Prime Minister with Jamaica Fi Real: Beauty, Vibes and Culture, a book authored by Kevin O’Brien Chang. The book, published recently, provides an in-depth look at Jamaica's people, history, music, sports, religion and culture. It is illustrated with over 200 images, featuring places to visit, foods to eat and much more. The Prime Minister was presented with his copy at Jamaica House on Wednesday, December 22.

JAMAICA, LAND OF BEAUTY: Prime Minister Bruce Golding receives his personal copy of Kevin O'Brien Chang's Jamaica Fi Real: Beauty, Vibes and Culture, from Randle (centre) and Project Coordinator, Deidre Callam, at Jamaica House.

GOLDING'S GADGET: Prime Minister Bruce Golding examines his new Nokia 5330 cellphone, which features digital television with cable channels. Chairman of LIME Jamaica, Chris Dehring (centre), told the Prime Minister that the phone also targets children as it will prompt them to use the television feature to watch educational programmes. The presentation was made to the PM on Wednesday, December 22, at Jamaica House. At left is is David Casanova, CEO of DC-Digital.

STEPPING UP: Prime Minister Bruce Golding recently received a courtesy call from Ambassador Designate to Switzerland, Wayne McCook, at Jamaica House. Ambassador McCook's immediate responsibilities in Geneva will include preparations for the next round of Doha Trade negotiations of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) early in 2011. Keeping abreast of developments in the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations are within the remit of the consulate in Switzerland. Ambassador McCook's previous diplomatic postings include serving as Ambassador in Beijing.