Tuesday, 26 November 2019

CULTURE VULTURE: Pantomime crew gearing up for another triumph / Last lap at Phoenix Theatre / Major cash awards for Poet Laureate’s Poetry Prize

LITERARY GOLD: Calling all Jamaican poets! Submit your best work for the National Library/Poet Laureate’s 2020 Poetry Prizes (four categories to choose from), and you could share in US$4000 in total prize money. The Helen Zell Young Writer’s Prize is open to poets aged 17-25 years; the Edward Baugh Prize is for poets 35 years and younger residing in East Jamaica (St. Thomas and Portland) and the Corporate Area; the Louise Bennett Prize is open to poets of any age from Central Jamaica (Clarendon, Manchester, St. Catherine, St. Mary and St. Ann) and the Michael Cooke Prize is for male poets only from the Western end of the island (St. James, Hanover, Westmoreland, St. Elizabeth and Trelawney). Deadline for submissions is December 20. For guidelines and more information, go to nlj.gov.jm/poetryprize/

THAT TIME AGAIN: Rucktion Junction is the title of the 2019/2020 LTM National Pantomime. Promising another helluva serving of vibrant entertainment for the entire family, the show (now well into rehearsals) is fusing community drama, family life and politics with ample humour. According to showrunner Anya Gloudon, the new production recalls such classic pantomimes as River Mumma and Man Deh Yah, and will feature a special tribute to icons like the recently departed Noel Dexter. One of Dexter’s songs, Gloudon tells us, is being freshly arranged for the show, which opens, as is the custom, on Boxing Day (Dec. 26), with a cast of seasoned veterans, recent additions and fresh faces.

THE FINAL ACT? Is the Phoenix Theatre really closing its doors for good? As industry people come to terms with the heartbreaking news, theatre manager David Tulloch and his team are gearing up for their swan song: two productions that will bring the curtain down and signal the end of an era. Up first is Jamaica Sweetest (Dec. 13-15), the third slice of Tulloch’s uber-popular musical revue, featuring Owen ‘Blakka’ Ellis, Rashiem Shepherd, Danielle Shepherd, Deanne Logan Johnson and Kathy Grant. A remount of the domestic dramedy Prayer Partner opens on Dec. 27 (for a brief run ending Jan. 5), with a cast comprising Tulloch, Ricky Rowe, Kathy Grant, Trishana Wright and Michael ‘Stringbeans’ Nicholson.

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