Tuesday, 21 May 2019

CHAT ‘BOUT: The ‘Mackerel’ phenomenon / What kind of police force do we want? / J’ca means serious business, and more hot topics

“When you look at starting a business, Jamaica is number six in the world. Yes, this little island. We are now starting a business in three days. Five years ago, we were starting a business in 31 days. That is a huge achievement for a small country. That is the type of thing that puts us on the investment map.” – Jampro’s Diane Edwards on Jamaica’s continued impressive performance according to the latest World Bank Doing Business Report 

“This phenomenon of [women taking other women’s men and men taking other men’s women] exists not only in Jamaica but everywhere in the world. People from all sections of the society do it. So I hope folks don’t believe people who ‘tek weh people man’ have home issues like Mackerel or are only poor people. The only difference with Mackerel is that she seems proud of it, while many folks doing it will never be proud of saying [so] in public.” – Concerned citizen and St. Ann resident Teddy-Lee Gray in a letter to the Observer’s editor 

“The difficulties of managing solid waste in Jamaica are compounded by the fact that a significant portion of the waste generated remains uncollected. A lot of the uncollected garbage is washed down gullies and into the sea.” – CEO of Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) Suzanne Stanley on the need for greater efforts to minimize pollution and improve air quality in city Kingston and islandwide 

“We believe that the market will recover over time. Coffee is a long-term crop. We are encouraging coffee farmers not to abandon their coffee farms as the market will regain strength, even though this is not going to be overnight.” – Mavis Bank Coffee Factory CEO, Norman Grant, expressing optimism about the future of Jamaica’s depressed coffee market

“Will a name change solve the problems of the constabulary? Of course we know there are good and bad cops in the force, and change is needed to make sure those who we depend on are doing just that. But what do we really want from the police? While some clamour for a state of emergency, which suggests more forceful policing, there are others who are asking for a softer, gentler constabulary.” – Columnist Barbara Gloudon on constantly changing attitudes towards the role of the JCF

THE TALLAWAH INTERVIEW: Theatre lovers Shakquera South and Faithy Lynch provoke thought with their one-woman show Common Sense

THE STORYTELLERS: Lynch and South take on a touchy subject matter.

GIVEN the stigma attached to mental illness in contemporary Jamaican society, actress, writer and School of Drama grad Faithy Lynch teamed up with producer and close friend Shak-quera South to mount Common Sense. It’s a provocative one-woman show in which Lynch convincingly disappears into a series of characters to highlight the abuse and neglect that so many persons with head disorders – diagnosed and misdiagnosed – suffer at the hands of other people. TALLAWAH spoke with the ladies about shining a light on this sobering issue so often swept under the rug and why ignorance is never bliss. 

TALLAWAH: Why was it important for you to put on Common Sense? 
Lynch: This was my final-year project at [the School of Drama]. Shak-quera came and saw it and wanted to produce it. 
South: I care about communicating important issues to people through the arts space. Art is so important and powerful, and art is a great way to relay something to people, to teach people. 

TALLAWAH: What’s your personal connection to mental illness? 
Lynch: I know people that I think suffer from mental illness but have not been diagnosed. People have even diagnosed me as bipolar. What I’m interested in is how individuals feel, those who are constantly and unfairly ‘diagnosed’ as suffering from some form of mental issue. How does it affect the individual? In my thesis I call it “community misdiagnosis” because as Jamaicans, we are always putting people in that box. 
South: Thankfully, I don’t have anyone in my family, that I know of, who has any such illness. Personally, I have had my own demons that I’ve had to face, and I want to know how to deal with that. I learned so much from working on this project, and I think it was very important for us to get the information out there. 

TALLAWAH: What surprised you the most during the research for Common Sense
South: I wasn’t involved in the actual research, but as I said, I learned a lot from the performance and the panel discussions afterwards. Someone, a Type 1 bipolar person, said that at church they had an exorcism performed on them. And I think that just speaks to the ignorance of the church. This play really revealed a lot about how Jamaicans treat people who have these challenges. 
Lynch: What stood out for me was how people responded to Stacey, the main character I developed. I don’t think she suffered from any mental disorder, but I know the kind of story I wanted to tell, to highlight certain things. I think her main problem was a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy,’ which is believing and absorbing what other people say about you. 

TALLAWAH: Faithy, as an actress, you’re incredibly thorough, but how challenging was it to tackle multiple characters? 
Lynch: What I did was create the characters individually and then work out the transitions. I like working alone. I do a lot of work by myself. Being honest is the challenge, with each and every character, to learn them and understand them.

TALLAWAH: Shak-quera, as a producer what kind of projects interest you? 
South: I like projects that have substance and deliver important, relatable messages. I want it to inform. It has to be way more than entertainment. Jamaican theatre is too much comedy, and that’s what we feed the public – things they want instead of what we think they need to see. So I want to create my own space to put on more of these projects. I’m looking forward to it.

Friday, 17 May 2019

THE OTHER SIDE OF: Senator Aubyn Hill loves his fish, old movies and a good joke

WORK & PLAY: Hill is all about living (and enjoying) his best life.

HOW does Senator Aubyn Hill spend his time away from the hustle-and-bustle of the corporate world and public service? What interests and hobbies help him enjoy his downtime to the max? Here, the man who wears multiple hats (Corporate Strategies Ltd. CEO; Economic Growth Council team leader) shares some of his favourite things:

The secret talent he wish he had: Actually, for a long time I wanted to be one of those fighter pilots. 

The best thing he can cook: I don’t do any cooking, but I’m excellent at preparing eggs.

His favourite Bob Marley song is: “One Love” and “Buffalo Solider” is a close second.

The last time he laughed out loud: Today. I’m always laughing. It’s an important part of my emotional well-being. 

How he spend his spare time: I watch a lot of sports, particulary tennis and football.

Oxtail or pork?: Really and truly, I love snapper. (Laughs).

His idea of a great weekend: Spending it with a great book and a cup of coffee.

His favourite films are: 12 Angry Men and the Mission Impossible movies.

NEWS FEED: Lorna Gooden steps up as SVREL’s new GM … Fill prescriptions faster with ‘Quick Prescript’ app … Food for the Poor salutes its sponsors

BUSINESS: Hailed by CEO Ann-Dawn Young Sang as “a dynamic, respected and long-standing member of the Supreme family,” Lorna Gooden has been appointed the new general manager of Supreme Ventures Entertainment Limited (SVREL). Gooden, who joined the Supreme family in 2001 as a finance manager, is a fellow of the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Jamaica (ICAJ). “The position of general manager is very critical in advancing the many business strategies that have been implemented by SVREL to propel the company’s revenue growth and profitability,” says Chairman Solomon Sharpe, “so I am pleased with this [appointment].” 

HEALTH: The National Health Fund (NHF) has stepped up promotions for its ‘Quick Prescript’ app. Introduced in 2018, it was devised to help reduce the waiting time for clients accessing medication in public pharmacies. The application allows users to initiate the processing of prescriptions using their smartphones. Individuals are alerted when the medication is ready. The medication may be collected on presentation of the original prescription. According to the NHF, patients and potential customers without smartphone access can utilize the ‘Quick Prescript’ kiosks at selected pharmacies islandwide.

CHARITY: The life-changing work that charity organization Food for the Poor continues to do in Jamaica is largely possible due to the support of corporate entities (based locally and overseas) that don’t hesitate to give. “Food for the poor, over its 35-year-history in Jamaica, has built over 25,000 housing units, which gives me goosebumps when I think about it,” said Chairman Andrew Mahfood, speaking at the recent launch of their 5th annual 5K Run/Walk. “I have to thank our donors from overseas – in Canada, America, Europe – and especially Jamaica because without them there would be no Food for the Poor. It just shows the kind-heartedness of many people around the world. Over 500 lives have been improved.” The 2019 Run/Walk will be held in New Kingston on Sunday, May 19.

Monday, 13 May 2019

2019 MIDDLE MANAGERS’ CONF: Nuggets of wisdom from the experts

THE MAIN EVENT: The conference offered a splendid opportunity for networking and business connections. 

>> Being a CEO for 25 years and counting, says Peter Melhado, has been about adapting to roles and adapting to new things. Not only has he learned to be more precise and well-prepared for whatever he’s doing, the ICD Group President and CEO has also become more “super-analytical” over time. “Being a leader is equal parts teacher and learner,” he says. “Whenever you’re not being authentic you’ll have a hard time being consistent and trustworthy.” Melhado outlined five things his experiences have taught him about being a team leader:
1) Get to know your people first and foremost. Nothing trumps that.
2) Prepare, prepare, prepare. It’s a big part of moving up the ladder.
3) The further up you go, the less feedback you get. Be vigilant.
4) Let go of the outcome.
5) Be brutally honest with yourself.

>> For Grace Burnett, moving from the legal fraternity and the insurance industry to the corporate world (she’s now the CEO of GraceKennedy Financial Group), has been a journey replete with empowering, life-changing lessons. What’s paramount for her, she told her rapt audience, is thinking B.I.G.
1) Be authentic “Each time you’re moving towards your dream without compromising, you’re winning,” she said, quoting Michael Dell. She’s also a fan of Steve Jobs (“Don’t let the noise of others drown out your inner voice.”) and Brian Tracey (“Be the type of leader people want to follow voluntarily, even if you had no title or position.”)
2) Inspire Management, Burnett believes, is about persuading people to do things they don’t want to do; leaders, on the other hand, inspire people to do things they never thought they could do.
3) Grow Says Burnett, “Before you’re a leader, success is about growing yourself. As a leader, success is about growing other people while growing yourself.”

>> Rochelle Cameron, always a hit with her audiences, closed out the conference with a refreshing and informative session dubbed “Building and Unleashing Breakthrough Networks.” She urged attendees to look the part and act the part. “When you walk into a room all energetic, people are immediately drawn to you, that confidence,” she said. “Always ask yourself, ‘How am I presenting myself?’” She couldn’t emphasize enough the supreme importance of body language as you strive to make those important connections. “The body language of people tells us so much. It’s much more truthful. The eyes, especially, speak louder than the voice ever will,” noted Cameron (Assistant VP, Jamaica Broilers), who highly recommends the book Presence by Amy Cuddy. “You want your presence to say I own my value and I feel powerful in my value.”

THICKER THAN WATER: Face the Truth crackles with explosive dialogue, strong performances

LISTEN MI: Murray, Jarrett and Edwards sharing a scene from the play.

Face the Truth (Majesty Productions)
Director: Andrew Brodber
Cast: Rosie Murray, Tesfa Edwards and Angela Jarrett
Venue: Pantry Playhouse, New Kingston

FOR the fast-approaching observance of Mother’s Day, I highly recommend that you go see Face the Truth. An alternately humorous and sobering domestic dramedy, it vividly highlights the perils of spoiling your child, especially when they are long past the age when they should be out in the world making life and fending for themselves. It’s a cautionary tale.

Written by Angela Jarrett and directed by Andrew Brodber, the creative team behind last season’s Something Fishy, the play stars Rosie Murray as Dorothy Norton, a rich 75-year-old maven, who could be accused of being an enabler. Her adult son Ray (Tesfa Edwards) can be described as a deadbeat Rastafarian sponging on his mother quite heartlessly, taking full advantage of her kindness and her soft heart.

This makes Miss Norton’s assistant Babs (Jarrett, superb) very angry and consequently she never spares Ray a firm tongue-lashing. They are at constant loggerheads.

Frequent mention is made of Ray’s missing family (including wife Jasmine), a Mr. Drummond, who seems to hold a special place in Miss Norton’s heart, and a Pastor Finley, a fit and sexy white man who has Babs hitting the early-morning jogging trail to catch his attention.

But the action primarily unfolds inside Miss Norton’s living room (in Hope Pastures), which becomes a heated battleground as Babs and Ray finally square off in response to the free-loading situation that has escalated.

Jarrett knows people, and this wisdom and understanding of human relationships manifests repeatedly in her dialogue-heavy script, which Brodber and the three-member cast and crew bring to rousing life – in spite of minor technical flaws. 

You’ll laugh, you’ll cuss, you’ll be entertained by this frank and true-to-life account of dysfunctional family dynamics and ferocious greed. Tyrone’s Verdict: B

Thursday, 9 May 2019

WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE: Jacqueline Coke-Lloyd sees success as helping others achieve their best

LEADING LADY: "There are lessons in opportunities and mistakes," Coke-Lloyd says on reflection.

“IN my high school yearbook I was singled out as the person most likely to start their own company,” says a glowing Jacqueline Coke-Lloyd, speaking with TALLAWAH inside the Grand Ballroom of the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel. To say the least, she’s more than lived up to that promise.

Not only has she been the driving force behind Make Your Mark Consultants (her own company), she’s been transforming the lives of countless Jamaicans through personal and professional development.

In fact, Coke-Lloyd and the diligent staff at Make Your Mark Consultants take this work so seriously that they started the Middle Managers’ Conference, which has bloomed into a calendar event now in its 10th year.

“Every year I marvel at how much space I take up in this ballroom. It’s a good feeling,” she told the conference during Opening Ceremony on Tuesday morning, referring to the massive turnout. “Most organizations don’t get to celebrate 10 years of achievement.” 

To start your own enterprise, Coke-Lloyd will be the first to tell you, it only takes a spark. She uses her own experiences and the genesis of the conference as an example. “It started with a dream to make you the best asset to your organization and the people you serve – [while] contributing to the growth of the public and private sector and our beloved country, Jamaica,” she told the gathering. 
Today, at 50-plus, Coke-Lloyd radiates charm. She’s poised, she’s eloquent. A plump woman in full, and a big fan of pearls and pants suits, she wears her success well. “I’m most proud of the fact that we continue to improve lives and contribute to the growth of managers. The responses and feedback we’ve received from persons we’ve trained has been amazing,” she tells me during coffee break. 

She’s had quite a journey to this point on her career arc. In addition to her mom, Coke-Lloyd hails Claudette Parsons on her list of Jamaicans who inspired and motivated her when she was coming of age. “She gave me my first summer job, and she is still an entrepreneur to this day,” she recalls. “My mom taught us that life is going to be filled with tough challenges, but you should always give of your best, irrespective of the situation.” 

And, as with any success story, Coke-Lloyd has had her hurdles and disappointments. What has she learned? “There are lessons in opportunities and mistakes,” she emphasizes. “It’s just for you to learn from them and make the most of your next opportunities.”

GOOD MEDICINE: The benefits of good posture / Are colder temps better for your brain? / Doing the mosquito wave

GO FIGURE: According to Stuart McGill, author of Back Mechanic, good posture makes you appear confident, healthy and symmetrical. Your core muscles, he points out, wrap around and support your spine, making it easier to maintain posture. Proper positioning, he further notes, prevents painful micromovements between joints. “Poor posture,” says performance coach Brett Klika, “tucks in the glutes, giving you the ‘no butt’ look. NB: Slumped shoulders push the neck forward, creating an enlarged tummy, even if you don’t have one. 

BRAIN POWER: Colder temperatures can help you think more clearly. A report carried in Reader’s Digest informs that studies have found that people perform some cognitive tasks, such as decision making, better when the temperature is colder. Research has also shown that folks are less inclined to tackle complex issues in the summer than in the colder months. It’s important to note that the brain requires glucose to function, but the body uses more of it in warmer temperatures to keep the body cool, leaving less fuel available for reasoning and recall tasks. 

BUZZ KILL: Forgot your insect repellent? Just wave your arms. A study published in Current Biology reports that mosquitoes dislike air vibrations, such as those you create when you move. And when vibrations are combined with your unique odour, mosquitoes associate them with your odour and steer clear. In this era of dengue and H1N1 we need all the helpful tips we can get.

MAN OF THE HOUSE: The Intruder is a provocative, fast-paced thriller

STRANGER THINGS: Good and Ealy sharing a scene from the new movie.

“WHEN I built this house, I put my soul into it,” says Charlie Peck (Dennis Quaid), the titular character in the suspenseful new domestic thriller The Intruder. Is that why he can’t let go?

A retired engineer with no close family, Peck’s whole life is about his gorgeous, well-kept home in Napa, California, that has caught the fancy of a young, attractive couple – advertising exec Scott Howard (Michael Ealy) and magazine writer Annie (Meagan Good) – who decide to buy the property and get busy starting a family.

But what was supposed to be the dream-home experience commencing their happy new chapter soon becomes their own personal nightmare on Elm Street. Charlie simply won’t leave. Even though he’s supposed to be on vacation in Florida, he’s popping up at the most inopportune times at the house. 

Things start getting awkward pretty fast. Awkward soon becomes tense. Tense eventually spirals into seriously creepy with deadly consequences.

Directed by Deon Taylor, with a script by David Loughery, The Intruder’s plot is hardly a novel premise, especially if you’ve seen movies like Lakeview Terrace (with Kerry Washington, Patrick Wilson and Samuel L. Jackson), but it’s an unflinching, utterly believable story that grows more jolting and terrifying as the plot thickens. 

Poor Scott and Annie; you feel their pain, thanks to committed performances by Ealy (The Perfect Guy) and Good (Stomp the Yard). As for Quaid, what a transformation! It will be next to impossible to see him as the all-American dad after this. Tyrone’s Verdict: B

Friday, 3 May 2019

LIFE + STYLE: Khadijah Robinson’s mission / Pulse looks ‘global’ / Reggae Girl Khadijah Shaw now a Nike ambassador

>> Nike signs Reggae Girlz star Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw
Sportswear and apparel giants Nike has inked an endorsement deal with Jamaica’s prolific Reggae Girlz striker Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw, who is gearing up for this summer’s eagerly anticipated FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. “It shows that the hard work is paying off because it takes hard work to do what you do to the best of your ability,” the 22-year-old sportswoman, who is represented by A&V sports agency told the Observer. “I had an amazing year last year, and this just adds to it. This is even better because I [now] have the proper footwear and gear to be comfortable and perform at my best going forward.” The contract with Nike (dubbed the world’s largest supplier of athletics gear) will run for the next two years. Shaw is among the exciting young stars who will be on show at the World Cup, scheduled for June 7 to July 7.

>> Miss J’ca Khadijah Robinson stepping up her fight against NCD’s
Reigning Miss Jamaica World Khadijah Robinson says she wants her special project, Helping Hands in the Community, to reach a wider cross-section of people and have national impact in the fight against lifestyle-related illnesses. “What it involves is using exercise to decrease the effects of non-communicable diseases such as hypertension and diabetes,” says Robinson, who partnered with the health ministry’s Jamaica Moves campaign to stage a health fair in her home parish of St. Elizabeth last month. “Now we are working on it being a sustainable project to keep it going.”

>> Pulse Global positions the C’bean agency for a bigger int’l audience
With Pulse Global, Kingsley Cooper and the hardworking team at the pioneering Caribbean model agency have set their sights on greater international success and are creating new alliances with kindred spirits in Africa and the United States. “Pulse is no a more diverse entity, so when we talk about model searches across Africa, clearly you will understand that not only do we create a much larger population for international model representation, but we transform what we have done out of the Caribbean into something that has a much larger reach,” he told attendees at the recent launch in St. Andrew. “The idea is to take the best of Caribbean fashion and aligning that with the best of African fashion [to present] that to the major fashion capitals in the form of events in London, Toronto and New York.”

2019 PHOENIX AWARDS: Terri Salmon, Rosie Murray to be inducted into Hall of Fame

CREAM OF THE CROP: Forbes and Tulloch at the 2017 awards; this year's honorees Murray and Salmon.

AFTER 20 years in the business, Probemaster Entertainment is increasingly giving special attention to honouring – via The Phoenix Awards – those individuals who have not just been a part of the journey but have played and continue to play pivotal roles in the company’s success. The awards are given out every two years. 

At the 2nd annual event, slated for Monday, June 3, at the Phoenix Theatre in New Kingston, veteran and award-winning thespians Rosie Murray and Terri Salmon will be officially inducted into the Probemaster Hall of Fame. Leonie Forbes is among the past inductees.

On awards night, trophies will be handed out to winners in over 30 categories divided into two tiers. Nominations were announced last Monday during a small ceremony at the Phoenix emceed by Stephanie Hazle.

Tier 1 will see trophies being presented for such categories as Legacy Award, Team Spirit, Critically Acclaimed, Longest Running Production and Best Benefit Client, among others.

As for Tier 2, the categories speak more to the shows that Probemaster was heavily involved in over the course of the past year and a half. Best Ensemble, Costumes, Set Design, Lead Actor, Lead Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, and Best Production are among the categories.

One Blood, Sugar Daddy, Young & Wreckless, Special Cuts, Jamaica Sweeter, Wine & Roses, From Den Till Now and Jesus Christ Superstar are the shows vying for the Best Production trophy.

“What I’m most proud of is the fact that the amount of work put out and produced has doubled since the last awards show,” says show producer and Probemaster principal David Tulloch. “And [at] the last awards show, a lot of veterans were honoured, and this time around, it’s largely a new crop of talents being nominated, and that has to be respected.”

The red-carpet affair on June 3 commences at 8pm, with cocktails kicking things off at 7.

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

GROWING PAINS: Little scores big on humour, valuable life lessons

FUNNY GIRLS: Hall and Martin as they appear in the new big-screen comedy.

SAD but true: success is no guarantee for happiness. Jordan Sanders (Regina Hall), the central character in Little, is a perfect example. Attractive, powerful and very wealthy, she runs her own tech company, employs a sizeable staff and has graced the prestigious cover of such magazines as Wired. But Jordan is a grumpy, unhappy woman, a boss from hell who bullies and belittles her employees, including her shy, well-meaning personal assistant, April (Issa Rae, superfunny). 

By all appearances, Jordan is cut from the same cloth as Miranda Priestley (The Devil Wears Prada), but she soon meets her comeuppance. When she insults a little girl who has a few magic tricks up her sleeve, a spell is cast and Jordan is mysteriously transformed into her adolescent self (terrific newcomer Marsai Martin) and is made to go back to school. 

What subsequently plays out is a hilarious sequence of events which gives Jordan a fine education about the golden rule – while vividly demonstrating how timid birds like April can finally learn to soar like an eagle. 

SNL alum Rachel Dratch (as a tough social worker) and Luke James as Jordan’s boytoy Trevor make appearances. 

Co-writers Tracey Oliver and Tina Gordon (who directs) clearly know a thing or two about women’s experiences in the vicious working world, not to mention what it’s like to be classified an angry Black woman. Where does this pain come from? 

Given the magic/fantasy/sorcery angle, the comparisons to last month’s laughfest What Men Want (in which Taraji P. Henson can hear men’s thoughts) are inevitable. But Little is way more instructive, tacking such themes as workplace bullying, overcoming self-doubt and how to rise from misfit to star of the show. Tyrone’s Verdict: B+

NEWS & NOTES: Regional leaders salute McIntyre / New MP Ann-Marie Vaz working for her people / Gov’t announces plans for Labour Day

>> Ann-Marie Vaz pledges support for CASE, Port Antonio Hospital 
The Port Antonio Hospital, which is experiencing a shortage of equipment, and the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE), which is yet to achieve university status, are among the priority projects that Ann-Marie Vaz will be taking on as she commences her tenure as Member of Parliament. “An issue [at the hospital] is the [absence of] a kidney dialysis centre, something that I am going to pursue within the first year of me being MP for East Portland. People have to spend three, four days out of Portland because the dialysis machine is in Kingston. I intend to change that,” she says. “And I am pledging my commitment to ensuring that CASE becomes a university. The truth is we send our children abroad to university, [but] Jamaica has the climate that is conducive to education all year round, and we should actually look at capitalizing on education here.” 

>> Tributes pour in for Sir Alister McIntyre 
The passing of Sir Alister McIntyre, a former Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI) and a stalwart of regionalism, has met with a wave of glowing tributes from academic and political leaders. “He was an outstanding Caricom secretary-general as we moved from a Free Trade Association into the Caribbean Community. His mastery of the complex technical issues pertaining to trade, finance and the development agenda provided the backbone for the ACP [agreement] throughout the Lome negotiations,” recalls former Jamaican prime minister P.J. Patterson. His close friend Sir Shridath Ramphal couldn’t agree more: “The region’s debt to Alister is payable only in a new enlightenment that makes Caribbean oneness the reality for which we lived.” A Grenadian by birth, McIntyre passed away in Jamaica last Saturday. He was 87 years old. 

>> Child safety issues getting special attention for Labour Day 2019 
For this year’s raft of activities being planned to mark Labour Day (May 23), special emphasis will be placed on the safety of the nation’s children. So says Minister (with portfolio responsibility) Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange. According to Grange, Workers’ Week (which starts on Sunday, May 19) and Labour Day come at a critical period for our children and other vulnerable road users, as they take place during Child Month and just before Road Safety Month. “We thought that the evolution of road safety onto this national community-based platform,” says Grange, “would deepen the impact of the existing public-private road safety campaign led by the National Road Safety Council, Ministry of Transport and Mining, Ministry of Education, the JN Foundation, and UNICEF Jamaica, among others.”

Saturday, 27 April 2019

POWER & PRAISE: NDTC dancers, singers and musicians stir the soul, lift the spirit at Easter Sunday recital

SING OUT: The choir's selections ranged from classical gems to reggaefied spirituals.

EWAN Simpson made way for Heston Boothe, who has now passed the baton to Dr. Kathy Brown. She brings deft arrangement skills to this pivotal role of (Acting) Musical Director of the National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC), with specific responsibility for the 15-member Singers, looking like Grecian artists in their full-white costumes with red strings at the waist. 

There was a vibrant sheen to their performance last Sunday morning, as they took to the stage at the Little Theatre for the traditional Easter Sunday Morning of Movement and Music. Not only was the blend of voices rousing, their suite of songs truly struck a chord.

Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus,” very commanding, was a solid success, providing accompaniment for the dancers (choreographed by Kevin Moore), as they opened the show. Soloist Kaydene Gordon gave an impressive rendition of “We Shall Behold Him,” followed by soprano Faith Livingstone and contralto Kimone Johnson offering a subtle, sublime take on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Pie Jesu.”

Led by Tah-je Thompson, the Negro spiritual “Done Made My Vow” also connected with its lovely three-part harmony. But the choir raised the bar with “You Made a Way” (led by Joshua Page), a reggaefied treatment of the Travis Greene hit. Newcomer Shane Wright, sharing the spotlight with Kamala Johnson-Nicholson, gave a solid account of his vocal prowess, taking the lead on the powerful “Bless the Lord (Son of Man),” popularized by Grammy winner Tye Tribbett.
By all appearances, the dancers poured their all into their selected pieces, and the audience responded accordingly. Clad in purple costumes, the quartet of Kerry-Ann Henry, Mishka Williams, Ashley Bromfield and Jada Buchanan offered an excerpt from Rex Nettleford’s thought-provoking Blood Canticles, which was later revisited in the programme for an excerpt led by Marisa Benain, Mark Phinn, Michael Small and Artistic Director Marlon Simms. 

Also on the programme: Kevin Moore’s Inward Stretch Outward Reach, done by a five-member all-male cast; the pas de deux Vision (from the Clive Thompson canon), rendered by the graceful Ashley Bromfield and Javal Lewis, which drew extended applause at the end.

Full of sprightly moves, Simms’ Homeland was a tropical splash of rhythm and energy. The penultimate piece for the morning, it made way for Nettleford’s Psalm 150, a live fusion of the sacred and spiritual, Noel Dexter music and earnest movement, bringing the curtains down on yet another memorable, quintessentially NDTC occasion.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

THE BEAUTY PAGE: Gracie-Ann Watson on loving life, her perfume collection, and her girl crush on Beyoncé

STRIKE A POSE: "This is me. I always be myself," shares the full-time mom and part-time actress.

Juggling two kids (11-year-old Unique and Tyreek, 8), a day job in the auto industry, a part-time acting career and club-league netball, Gracie-Ann Watson has a full plate. But she loves all that she does so much that she feels no stress, no pressure. Now in her early 30s (to be confirmed), she looks great and sounds like a woman in a truly happy place in her life. This season, Watson, who has made a name for herself doing films (Glory to Gloriana), plays (Mature Attraction), music videos (Wayne Marshall, Vybz Kartel) and TV projects (Royal Palm Estate), returns to centrestage for Sugar Daddy Wednesdays at the Phoenix Theatre.

>> Style icons and inspiration: Locally, I love actress Carol Campbell. She’s a beautiful and natural woman. Very pleasant and easy to work with. Fabulous actress. On the international scene, I love BeyoncĂ©. I’ve always admired her style and how creative she is. And you never hear any gossip about her. She’s beautiful on the inside and out and such a great, positive role model for young women.

>> Hair/Makeup/Glam crew: I do my own makeup (Laughs). Some women will take like 30 to 45 minutes to get ready. I don’t need more than 10 minutes. I normally stick to a natural foundation, lipstick, eyeliner and some eyeshadow. I have two stylists who do my hair, Kel and Kerry.

>> My Ideal Look: This is me. I always be myself. If something is in style right now, I’m going to wait a while before I go with it. I always want Gracie to stand out from what’s happening in fashion. A lot of people think I’m Indian, but it’s because my mom has good hair. My favourite way to wear my hair is braided because it doesn’t show my age. (Laughs).

>> Must-have products: Apart from my makeup kit, I have a big perfume collection. Love, love, love perfume. Good Girl is a favourite brand. I also have DKNY, Desire and Chanel Blue. 

>> What’s beautiful to me: Being happy and comfortable with your life; that’s beautiful to me. Being natural, being real. That is what life is about. I strongly believe in that. You make life what it is. 

Glam girl! Keep up with Watson on Instagram @barbiegracie.

WOMEN ON TOP: Dahlia Harris’ ‘purposeful’ new role / UDC promotes Heather Pinnock to GM / Kathleen Moss takes over as JN Bank Chairman

PUBLIC SERVICE: Providing leadership for almost 1,000 professionals (spanning technical services, legal, finance and estate management), Heather Pinnock has been appointed General Manager of the Urban Development Corporation (UDC). A graduate of the University College of London (a Master’s in Development and Planning), Germany’s Dresden University (postgrad certificate in green economy) and Jamaica’s University of Technology (an architectural studies degree), Pinnock had been acting GM since September of last year. According to the UDC board, their top priorities going forward include such mega-projects as the Closed Harbour Beach Park in Montego Bay, for which ground was recently broken, and Downtown Kingston redevelopment, including the construction of the Houses of Parliament buildings, set to commence in 2021. 

FINANCE: In the wake of major changes to operations at the Jamaica National Group, Kathleen Moss has been appointed Chairman of JN Bank. A management consultant and chartered business valuator with Sierra Associates, Moss’ appointment took effect on April 17. Also occupying new posts within the Group: Elizabeth Ann Jones (new co-deputy chair); Peter Morris (Chairman of JN General Insurance Company Ltd.); William Mahfood (Chairman of JN Money Services Ltd.) and Parris Lyew Ayee (Chairman of JN Foundation and JN Small Business Loans). Oliver Clarke will continue to chair the board of the JN Group. CEO Earl Jarrett is pleased with the changes. “It is clear that JN has in place a great leadership team,” he says, “that will not only navigate the challenges of business but that will also carry on the legacy of its predecessors.” 

BEAUTY: As Weston Haughton’s new partner at Crown of Beauty, franchise holders of the Miss Jamaica World beauty pageant, Dahlia Harris wants to use the platform to bring meaningful and lasting change to the lives of young Jamaican women, buoyed by the ‘beauty with a purpose’ mantra. “Beauty with a purpose continues to be very important to us, and one of the things we want to do this year is launch the Miss Jamaica World Mentorship Programme,” she told the Observer. “If you list all the [past] winners and what they have achieved and how they have contributed, they truly represent Beauty with a Purpose. So we want to identify young women in their communities who are already actively involved in projects [and can] make a difference to national life.”

Saturday, 20 April 2019

TIME & PLACE: Painful secrets, family drama give Special Cuts its sharp edge

BUSINESS HOURS: Actors sharing scenes from the high-energy production.

Special Cuts (Dredz Productions)
Director: David Tulloch
Cast: Kadeem Wilson, Sabrina Thomas, Oraine Meikle and Aisha Davis
Venue: Phoenix Theatre, Kingston

THE drama and tensions and deep-seated resentments that can manifest when people attempt to meld business and friendship race to the surface in Special Cuts, the latest theatrical offering from the Rashiem Shepherd-led Dredz Productions camp.

Set in a modern-day barber-beauty shop, the play (cleverly written and very strongly acted) also looks at relationship dynamics, betrayal, the disabled community and bad parenting – raising poignant questions about some core factors behind the breakdown in family values in contemporary society.

A smart writer, wise beyond his 29 years, Shepherd (One Blood) manages to imbue the story with just the right amount of seriousness and humour, combined with powerful life lessons, giving ace director David Tulloch great material to work with.

In a nutshell, fans of Ice Cube’s Barber Shop and Queen Latifah’s Beauty Shop will feel right at home in the audience, as we follow these four well-developed characters on their bumpy rollercoaster ride.

Alex (Kadeem Wilson) and Tina (Sabrina Thomas) have a successful barber-beauty business going and a platonic, mutually respectful relationship. Alex’s physically challenged son AJ (a very convincing Oraine Meikle), who is determined to have a music career, regularly visits his pops. Together, the three of them crack jokes and reflect on the past, present and future and what they really want out of life.

Their sense of stability and unity experiences a seismic shift when former schoolmate Lisa (Aisha Davis) enters the picture and is given a job as their new in-house nail technician. But what was expected to be a smooth transition for the business quickly becomes a hot mess. Battle lines are drawn and long-buried secrets re-emerge, causing an emotional thunderstorm.  

It all feels very true-to-life, and this realness works in the show’s favour, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats as the action heads towards a shattering conclusion. All four actors do their director proud, especially Thomas, whose layered portrayal of the shrewd Tina is arguably her best yet. Tyrone’s Verdict: B+