Tuesday, 30 August 2011

UP CLOSE WITH TEISHA DUNCAN: The effervescent actress discusses her 5 Essential Roles

I PUT A SPELL ON YOU: Duncan works her magic in Charlie's Angels.

Already one of the most acclaimed stage actresses of the year, following her bright and (very) amusing turn in this month’s Charlie’s Angels, Duncan, 27, reflects on her habit of exploring the lives of others with sly wit and astonishing range.

Dorine in “Tartuffe” (2010)
“I wanted her to reflect the different matronly characters that you find in the Jamaican society, including the wisdom of mothers, the nurturing nature of teachers and all those qualities that teach us lessons. Things people would be able to identify with. It was one of those roles where I could finally include my mother in the process.” (Laughs).

Mistress It’s A Pity in “Sarafina!” (2002)
“Another interesting role. I was very young at the time; I was 18. I think I was the youngest person in the cast. So one of the biggest challenges had to do with how I was going to convince everyone that I was this inspirational teacher figure. But fortunately my youthful exuberance was included.”

Marilyn in “Positive” (2005)
“My first time on stage, and I got to work with Michael Nicholson, who was very gracious. It was a difficult role, but I took my time to grow into it. It was a very strained character, someone having a disease and wanting a relationship with someone. I’m glad that I was eventually able to tap into her more romantic side.”

Rita in “Midnight at Puss Creek” (2010)
“When we were in rehearsals, I thought it would have been challenging to play her because I was saying I don’t have any evil in me. It took me a while to tap into the greed that drives her, because greed is something that I have little tolerance for in life. But at the same time, she was ambitious because her aim was to become a lawyer. So those dynamics were very interesting to me. And once I stopped judging [the character], I was able to put a kind of positive spin on it.”

Bubbles in “Charlie’s Angels” (2011)
“She could have been very stereotypical, but I wanted to create something dynamic and within which people could find some truth. The research was therefore very important. I went to all the go-go clubs I could find and noticed that the girls all had an alter ego that they portrayed. So with that in mind I was able to enhance the playing style and the search for more in creating her as the wanna-be-diva Diana Ross mixed with the down-to-earth everyday girl. That energy came with the end-product.” (Laughs).

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USAIN BOLT’S HEARTBREAK: ‘No tears from me’

MEA CULPA: Bolt reacts to his false-start disqualification.

With Jamaica (and the world, for that matter) in the happy grip of athletics mania, the disappointment surrounding Usain Bolt’s false start-induced ejection from The Big Race on Sunday morning is certainly understandable.

But it achieves nothing to cry over spilt milk – unless the IAAF officials now intend to do something about that asinine false-start rule. Like revert to the old one, which I much prefer as do so many of the athletes, the very people whose dreams and careers these rules can shatter within a blink.

Meanwhile, the track superstar and World’s Fastest Man may be heartbroken over his failure to repeat his gold-medal-winning performance in the 100 M finals due to the disqualification, but if the shattering turn of events is taking a toll on his psyche, he is concealing it will.

Asked if he was going to shed any tears over his lapse of judgement in the 100 M finals, the 25-year-old Bolt, who turns his attention to Friday’s 200 M heats, said there is no chance of that happening. According to Sporting Alert, he replied: “Looking for tears? Not going to happen. I’m OK.”

Given the circumstances, it’s just like Bolt to project an image of characteristic optimism. And rightly so.

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ASAFA POWELL: Should the injured star athlete make the relays?

WORKING IT OUT: Powell at a training session in Daegu, South Korea.

Is Asafa Powell trying to pull a fast one?

The former world record holder has made it abundantly clear that a “groin injury” has ruled him out of competition for the individual sprints at this week’s World Champs. Ok, understood. But if the 28-year-old sprinter is admittedly not at his best physically – as further emphasized by his ever-reliable agent Paul Doyle – then please explain why Asafa is moving heaven and earth to participate in the upcoming 4 X 100 M relay, when the Jamaican contingent has able and willing non-injured sprinters on hand to get the job done.

The way I see it: an injured athlete belongs on the sidelines. Fit and able-bodied ones take the track. That, in and of itself, is the logical thing.

However, if Powell has been miraculously healed since making the announcement then he should be considered for the relay quarter, by all means. And from these telling training-session photos, that appears to be the case anyway.

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Mike Leigh’s Another Year: Redefining longing and family values

Casting a compassionate eye on the lives of aging middle-class Britons searching for love’s comfort in a bucolic town while trying to matter, Another Year (2010), from acclaimed director Mike Leigh (Vera Drake, Secrets & Lies) weaves a terribly affecting, complex and ultimately revealing family drama that boasts solid performances from an estimable lineup, led by the breathtakingly wonderful (and heartbreaking!) Lesley Manville as a lovelorn, alcoholic divorcee who finds herself in a rut with no real prospects on the horizon.

Manville is such a tour-de-force that I fail to understand why she was overlooked for a supporting-actress Oscar nod for her exceptional turn. Ruth Sheen and Jim Broadbent are rather effortlessly appealing as a loving senior couple.

Taking on a range of themes, from family values to longing to heartache, Another Year is a quiet film, but the emotional rollercoaster that Leigh subjects his well-developed characters to make this one of his most joyfully noisy releases in years.

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RETURN TO FORM: Reggae star Abijah delivers powerful message with new single and video

MESSENGER: Abijah has a revelatory new hit on his hands.

Drawing on his signature message of unity and brotherly love and flowing-stream vocals, reggae singer Abijah launched his new single and video Where is the Love? on the weekend. The song, produced over a potent one-drop beat and spiced with drums and percussion, arrives ahead of the singer’s upcoming concert tour of Japan, proceeds from which will go towards aid relief efforts spurred by the devastating earthquake and tsunami that have hit the nation in recent times.

“It’s a personal song; it’s very dear to me,” says Abijah, known for the smash hit "Revelations" and whose influences quite obviously include Bob Marley. “It’s full-time we stop talking about love and show love.”

Listen to Abijah’s “Where Is The Love?”:

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OVERHEARD: Motherhood calls, Delcita answers [&] Divorce papers for the Davises

CHANGE OF PACE: Is Delcita turning her back on theatre? Not quite. Andrea Wright, the lovely comedic actress who has for the past several years been thrilling audiences everywhere as the rambunctious character in plays like Over Mi Dead Body and The Plumber, says she is taking an indefinite hiatus from the stage. Motherhood calls. “I need to spend some time with my daughter,” Wright has said. Of course, family remains paramount, but Delcita is invited to make a surprise return (in her mismatched polka dots) anytime.
In News You May Care About: Mr. Moses Davis and Mrs. Michelle Downer-Davis are now on another divorce. When asked for his thoughts, young Marco Dean allegedly replied, “I don’t care. I just want a bigger allowance – and Justin Bieber tickets.”

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Monday, 29 August 2011

ON THE SCENE: Queen B's big announcement + Our girl Shakira opts for breezy style in Brazil + Blake's gold medal dash

GREAT EXPECTATIONS: Leave it to Beyonce to dually stun and thrill her fans and famous friends. We certainly weren't expecting this bit of news, at least not yet. The megastar stole the spotlight at Sunday's Video Music Awards (VMAs) in Los Angeles, where she made the official announcement, black-carpet style, that she was expecting her first child with rap-star husband Jay Z. *Hear the angels singing* It's impeccable timing for Beyonce, who happens to have a birthday just around the corner. She celebrates her 30th b'day next Sunday, September 4.

COVER GIRL: Exuding easy-breezy chic, Miss Jamaica Universe 2011, Shakira Martin, poses for snaps in Sao Paulo, Brazil last Thursday at the tony Hilton Sao Paulo Morumbi. The 25-year-old Martin, who is among a record 89 girls vying for the coveted Miss Universe crown, will spend the next three weeks appearing at events and preparing for the grand coronation show, set for September 12 at Sao Paulo's Credicard Hall and will be broadcast live on NBC at 9:00 pm. To help vote Martin into the semis visit missuniverse.com/members/contestants.

GOLDEN BOY: Barely in his 20s, rising sprint sensation Yohan Blake is already a World Champion at the senior level. Is Jamaica great or what? Minutes after his compatriot Usain Bolt's unfortunate false-start disqualification, the 21-year-old phenom sped to a gold-medal-snatching win to restore the island's expected dominance in the sprints at the ongoing Daegu World Championships in South Korea. Back in 2003, when he was the biggest name in local schoolboy athletics, Blake was one of my interview subjects at the Observer. Even from then, it was clear that he was destined to achieve greatness. And this remarkable performance is only the beginning.

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Thursday, 25 August 2011

KINDRED SPIRIT: Wonder woman Terri-Karelle Reid has our full attention

DOUBLE TAKE: Terri cuts a stunning figure in a Shenna Carby design.

She’s smart, spirited and obviously sexy, but Terri-Karelle Reid is also a roll-up-the-sleeves kind of workaholic. With two major projects out now – hosting the new season of Rising Stars and spearheading this month’s Miss Jamaica World coronation – coupled with home life responsibilities and a raft of other personal commitments, we can’t help but wonder: how does she do it? Months away from turning 30, the soulful beauty gets candid about setting priorities, the thrill of the Rising Stars experience, her next chapter, and how she really feels about growing older.

TALLAWAH: With such a demanding schedule, how has it been establishing a point of equilibrium between your responsibilities with Digicel Rising Stars and the upcoming Miss Jamaica World pageant and your many other commitments?
Terri: Sometimes I have to scratch my head (Laughs). What I do is try to keep everything in its place. I try not to overwork or overcommit myself. I respect all the projects that I am a part of, and so I try to give each the appropriate amount of attention and complete the tasks within the proper time frame. It’s all about setting priorities and organizing.

TALLAWAH: In what ways has hosting Rising Stars, in particular, made you more excited and appreciative of life in general?
Terri: I think what makes me most excited was that working in the media was never something I had ever done before or was trained to do. So to be given this massive platform is a big deal for me. To be part of what is possibly the most-watched talent show in Jamaica is just incredible. I love what [Rising Stars] represents and the tradition of finding talent across the island and giving young people “a buss”. I love that.

TALLAWAH: Speaking of youngsters, you must be thrilled to have such a great crop of girls vying for the Miss Jamaica World coronation this year?
Terri: It’s been great, and the feedback so far has been positive. What people really like is that these girls represent the different colours and backgrounds of Jamaica, with great personalities. It’s really nice to have a group of such talented, beautiful and articulate young ladies, which is what the Miss Jamaica World pageant is about.

TALLAWAH: Personally, how do you feel about age and the inescapable reality of growing older?
Terri: I have no hang-ups about the age issue. People ask me all the time and I tell them. I believe that how you face life ultimately determines how you look on the outside. And I think that, as women, that is something we should consider.

TALLAWAH: Having already achieved so much coupled with a full plate of activities now vying for your focus, what’s really left for you to accomplish?
Terri: I think the sky’s the limit. As much as I like structure, I am not a very structured person (Laughs). I like to make things happen at their own pace. I am not the type of person who says ‘This is exactly what I’ll be doing in five years.’ I leave my opportunities open and let the future decide what I take on next.

TALLAWAH: What, if anything, are you hoping to avoid in the next chapter of your life?
Terri: The things I avoid now are the same things I’ll avoid in the future. I try very hard not to make any decisions that would affect me or my family in any negative way. So I keep away from people who are not like-minded so as not to hurt anyone I love dearly.

TALLAWAH: You possess incredible confidence and radiant warmth, which collectively suggest that you’d make a terrific actress. Have you ever given thought to trying your hand at acting?
Terri: Everybody from here to China has asked me that question (Laughs). But the truth is, as much as I do love drama and theatrics, acting is not something I would look into as a career option. I’ll leave that to the professionals.

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PERSONAL VISION: Under-40 Artist of the Year finalists push the boundaries of creativity

MASQUERADE: Duane Bennett's Shhh.

“The quality of the entries this year is truly amazing,” observes Mutual Gallery curator Gilou Baeur in reference to the submissions of the three selected finalists in the Super Plus Under-40 Artist of the Year competition. The riveting works, steeped in creative brilliance, are now on view at the Oxford Road-based gallery through September. “And for one,” she continues, “the idea of using bubblegum we found exciting because it was something different, something novel, and spoke to the different possibilities available for our artists.”

That particular artist in question is Duane Bennett, the noted jewelry designer, whose submission revolves around the ingenious use of chewing gum to address “the unknown, unseen and unspoken.” Also showcasing his creations fashioned from wood, plastic and soft metal, Bennett’s work takes a fascinatingly symbolic approach to the subject of Jamaicans and social behaviour.

The year’s two other finalists are O’Neil Lawrence and Cosmo Whyte, whose pieces are also uniquely captivating. Working with a range of media, Whyte offers a meditation on the concepts of “memory, ancestry and nostalgia” and the ways that one ascribes meaning to objects of importance, particularly family heirlooms. On the other hand, Lawrence (“There’s usually an element of autobiography in my work”) submitted a haunting self-portrait series, featuring handsomely photographed black-and-white images framed within a seaside setting. The series culminates in a mesmeric video presentation.

LIGHT AND DARK: Whyte's Bobo Dread.

As Baeur explains it, following a pre-selection exercise and subsequent cuts, this year’s overall pool of submissions was whittled from 10 to the final three, driven by a criteria that demands quality and soundness of the artist’s proposal.

The aim of the competition, now in its 11th year, is to promote new developments in contemporary art in Jamaica, and it is open to resident and non-resident Jamaican artists under the age of 40. The Artist of the Year is decided through a process of public vote and panel adjudication. This year’s jury is comprised of the National Gallery’s David Boxer, the School of Art’s Petrona Morrison and Prudence Lovell, avid art collector Anthony Miller and Baeur herself, who notes, “Only twice has someone won both the public vote and the jury vote.”

The artist voted by the public to have made the best submission will receive an award of $50,000. The winner of the Jury Prize, judged to have made the best overall submission, takes home $100,000 and will be offered a solo exhibition at the Mutual Gallery. The announcement of the winner(s) will be made at the gallery on Wednesday, September 7 at 7:00 pm.

AU NATUREL: Lawrence's Realisation.

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‘NIGHT’ TO REMEMBER: Are you ready for Theatre’s Night Out?

GIRL POWER: The principal cast of Hairpeace.

Surely, many are keenly anticipating next month’s incarnation of Fashion’s Night Out, but there are those in local theatre who are planning an extravaganza of their own – though on a much smaller scale. Sankofa Productions, led by its tireless head honcho Fabian Thomas, is urging members of the artistic community and the wider Jamaica to come out in their numbers to the Pantry Playhouse on Monday, August 29, for….*drumroll*…. Theatre’s Night Out!

The first-time event will feature a special 8:00pm performance of the currently-running work Hairpeace, starring a distaff cast led by Noelle Kerr. Per a statement from Sankofa, the inaugural Theatre’s Night Out is principally “for theatre practitioners who are in a show, who want to hang out with other theatre peeps or folks who want something to do on a Monday night.” Truly a novel idea that I hope, with time, develops into something grand.

Special Ticket Prices: $800 regular & $500 for students with valid ID. Tickets and info: 492-9020.

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IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER: Harris takes on faith and the family with new gospel drama

BORN TO WIN: Harris shows off her 2010 Thespy for Judgement.

“Our belief is that gospel ministry should be diverse, broadening its reach and appeal to mass audiences,” emphasizes Dahlia Harris in reference to the impending premiere of God’s Way, her latest venture into playwrighting – and a follow-up to 2010’s memorable and Thespy-winning Judgement. “In applying the production qualities of commercial theatre, we can offer content that not only resonates with the tenets of Christianity, but provides accessibility for cross-denominational audiences.”

God’s Way follows Valerie, a devout Christian who has been blessed with a good home, a wonderful husband and an ambitious daughter. When her husband’s activities become exposed as everything but legitimate, she must deal with the fallout that sends her spiralling into chaos. Set for a limited run, the production opens September 30 at the Theatre Place, Haining Road, New Kingston and will feature the talents of Gracia Thompson, Trudy Campbell, Sabrena McDonald and Ainsley Whyte. Tickets and info: 352-6180; theatrejamaica09@yahoo.com.

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ALL EYES ON ETANA: “Compelling” third album on the way, new management deal signed

IN LIVING COLOUR: The singer kicks career into new gear.

If there’s one thing you can be certain of when it comes to Etana’s life in the spotlight, it’s that she’ll be consistently making major moves. Even as her 2011 sophomore record, Free Expressions, continues to thrill and captivate across the planet, the songbird has announced that she’s already at work on the follow-up, a feel-good sort of record that will showcase yet another side to her as a performer.

“It won’t be the usual. The next album is a very happy, party in the park feel. It will have you rocking and smiling,” says the 28-year-old songstress, who is busy touring the continents. “It’s compelling, gives you the vibe to jam on the corner, in your home or in your car. It’s a definite collector’s item.”

Having just recently formed a new professional alliance with the legendary Donovan Germain of Penthouse Records (with whom she has inked a management deal), Etana further reports that the veteran hitmaker will doubly serve as executive producer on the album, which is presently untitled. The record will arrive sometime in 2012. Addressing this latest career move, the singer’s camp says, “Etana sees the union as seamless, as she is no stranger to the veteran producer.”

Last month, Etana (who continues to work with VP Records and Freemind Music) made her acting debut in Chris Browne’s well-received latest film Ghett’a Life.

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FROM THE ‘SOUL’: Jean Lowrie-Chin to read from her collection in New Kingston

RED THIS: Lowrie-Chin gifts a copy of Souldance to Sue Cobb, former US Ambassador to Jamaica.

Keeping the spotlight on her first release as an author, renowned columnist and PR pro Jean Lowrie-Chin will give a reading from her collection Souldance: Poems and Writings at Bookland, Knutsford Boulevard, New Kingston, early next month.

Souldance: Poems and Writings, Jean Lowrie-Chin’s first and widely praised collection, captures the voice of every Jamaican, as well as their thoughts and dreams. Taken from writings spanning the author’s 30-year career, the pieces reflect the events that uplift, as well as burden, Jamaican society. Her poetry is both universal and prophetic, from the warnings against the rat race in ‘Slow Down Child’, to the startling take on the life of Lee Boyd Malvo in “Your Son Too”.

The pieces also demonstrate that though much has changed, a lot has remained the same. Her selection of columns are amusing and inspiring, reflecting on the achievements of outstanding Jamaicans such as The Honourable Louise Bennett and Usain Bolt, and addressing Jamaica’s most pertinent issues, like the future of Jamaican men, in “A Vision of Our ‘Men at Risk’.”

Hailed by TALLAWAH as "touching, sensitive and... brimming with universal themes of love, family, community and struggle", Souldance is the work of a woman who loves her country and has truly experienced it. It is a moving, significant addition to Jamaica’s creative and intellectual literature.

Save the date: Join Lowrie-Chin at Bookland on Saturday, September 10 at 2:00 pm.

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SCENE: Usain Bolt addresses Daegu press conference + Daryl Vaz meets with China's Ambassador + PM Golding greets Colombia's man in J'ca

SUPERSTAR SHINE: The World's Fastest Man sparkles in the national colours as he fields questions during a press conference for the Jamaican contingent, Thursday afternoon in Daegu, South Korea, ahead of the keenly awaited start to the World Athletic Championships this weekend. "I want to be a legend," the star sprinter reportedly told the gathering. "It’s very important. This World Championships will pretty much be the first step toward (me) becoming a legend. I am very focused on it."

TREASURE CHEST: Something exquisite rests inside that box. New Chinese Ambassador to Jamaica, Zheng QingDian (right) is seen here presenting a gift to Jamaica's Daryl Vaz, when he paid a courtesy call on Minister Vaz at Jamaica House on Tuesday. According to the OPM, Ambassador QingDian told Minister Vaz that he aims to further strengthen the relations between Jamaica and China, adding that the Chinese government is committed to providing military aid to Jamaica. An agreement was signed on Monday at the Jamaica Defence Force headquarters.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE: PM Bruce Golding gleefully receives a gift from Colombia's new ambassador to Jamaica, Dr. Luis Guillermo Martinez-Fernandez, which showcases the natural resources of that country. The Ambassador made a courtesy call on Golding at Jamaica House on Tuesday ahead of next week’s meeting of the Jamaica/Colombia Joint Commission, which will address the exploration, exploitation and management of living and non-living resources in the agreed joint management marine zone between both countries.

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