Monday, 13 April 2015

AND THE WINNERS ARE: The honorees for the 5th Annual Thespian Spirit Awards

As many had predicted, when the winners of this year's Thespian Spirit Awards (the Thespies) were finally decided earlier this week, For My Daughter, one of the best reviewed plays of 2014, emerged as the strongest contender, copping our awards in total from its eight nominations. The splendidly written, powerfully acted domestic drama earned recognition for lead actress Leonie Forbes, supporting actress Terri Salmon, writer David Tulloch and the all-important outstanding-ensemble award. 

Now in its fifth year, the annual awards was conceived by TALLAWAH Magazine with the mission of honouring excellent work in Jamaican theatre, in the hope of encouraging the efforts of local theatre practitioners, especially our emerging voices. Below, take a look at the full list of 2015 honorees: 

OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLE: For My Daughter 
David Tulloch's searing kitchen-sink drama, easily the best thing he's written in the last five years, had all the requisite elements of a first-rate production: powerful acing, a solid script and enough intensity, twists and turns to keep viewers' eyes glued to the stage. 

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR: Chris McFarlane 
Making it quite clear that his magnetic portrayal of a bum-turned-dreamboat in last year's remount of Toy Boy was no fluke, McFarlane brought his A-game to the School of Drama's ampitheatre, rendering a tour-de-force as the prophet Makak in Derek Walcott's Monkey Mountain  a performance that couldn't go unrecognized, making him our first back-to-back Best Actor winner. 

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS: Leonie Forbes, For My Daughter 
Ideally suited to her Forbes' depth and range, the doting grandmother whose family skeletons come back to haunt her provided the legendary actress with the golden opportunity to give audiences yet another lip-smacking lesson in characterization while making the play's dialogue entirely her own. 

OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE: Courtney Wilson, Funny Kind 'A Love 
He's always been on our radar as one of the most compelling young actors of this generation, but Wilson proved he's evolving into a more versatile performer as Carlyle, a sibling torn between his devotion to his older brother and his feelings for the brother's wife. In an ensemble brimming with exceptional talent, Wilson earned our nod as the one who delivered the most deeply affecting work. 

OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE: Terri Salmon, For My Daughter 
Like her Best Actor colleague, Salmon is making it two in a row in this category and deservedly so. As the proprietary Vera Lue-Chen, the stage veteran knocked it out of the ball park night after night at the Pantry, prompting us to dub her performance one of the most visceral, unforgettable portraits of "prim and proper" in modern Jamaican theatre. 

OUTSTANDING WRITER: David Tulloch, For My Daughter 
In our time, Tulloch has written, produced and directed some truly amazing shows (who can forget last year's Jamaica Sweet), usually about familial bonds and the price of dignity, but he far outdid himself with Daughter, so soundly conceived and splendidly executed show that at the end of 2014 it emerged as the best thing we saw all year. And that's saying a lot, given the wildly diverse bounty to choose from. 

OUTSTANDING DIRECTOR: Trevor Nairne, Dream on Monkey Mountain 
Proving that there's no combo more effective than intellect and experience, Nairne brought amazing directorial brio to the School of Drama's take on Walcott's Dream on Monkey Mountain. The production mounted in the sprawling outdoor ampitheatre speaks to the ambition and creative risk-taking that have come to define the work of theatre practitioners like Nairne. 

OUTSTANDING SOUNDTRACK/USE OF MUSIC: Princess Boonoonoonoos 
The dynamic duo of composer Grub Cooper and lyricist Barbara Gloudon has cooked up irresistible musical treats over the years for the Pantomime Company, but they managed to bring that extra oomph to the score that accompanies the 2014-15 production: the songs are endlessly tuneful and the numerous interludes strike just the right chord. 

BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE: Alicia Taylor, Dream on Monkey Mountain 
If her bravura turn in Monkey Mountain is any reliable indicator of things to come, Taylor is most definitely one to watch. Among the most outstanding talents currently enrolled at the School of Drama, Taylor gets it right when it comes to conviction and emotional restraint. Once she completes studies at the Edna Manley College, she's someone theatregoers should see more of. 

THE LOUISE DUNK LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Jean Small 
From her many years as an educator to her celebrated work as a stage actress with a flair for the dramatic and a hefty appetite for one-woman shows (including her recent showstopper at the Philip Sherlock Centre), Small has made a name for herself as a dynamic artist, icon and inspiration who epitomizes excellence. And this small honour is just the latest on a long list of much-deserved accolades that ave floated her way.




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