Tuesday, 16 July 2019

TALLAWAH BOOK CLUB: Ken Boothe on the record / Michael Manley’s ‘Truth’ / PEP guidebooks for students

>> His name is synonymous with hits like “Train is Coming,” “Artibella” and “Everything I Own,” and after 30 albums and over 50 years in the music industry, reggae/lover’s rock legend Kenneth (‘Ken’) George Boothe is still going strong at age 71. In My Iconic Musical Journey, a candid new memoir from Pageturner Publishing (penned with biographer Karl Larmond), the celebrated vocalist traces his journey from his humble Denham Town roots to becoming a globally famous recording artiste.

>> Ian Randle Publishers struck gold when Michael Manley’s widow, Glynne, approached them with a series of tapes featuring her late husband speaking candidly in an interview she conducted with him back in 1997. This month brings Truth Be Told: Michael Manley in Conversation, a compendium of “the uncensored thoughts and opinions” of the former Jamaican prime minister. Says Glynne Manley, “This was his one chance to set the record straight. He needed to challenge some of the misconceptions and downright lies that had been told about him.” 

>> Spotlight on PEP books! 
As school officials, parents and their children continue to analyse the results of the inaugural sitting of the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) exams – and prepare for next year, local publishing houses are poised to start churning out more guidebooks for teachers and students. Among those already available: PEP for Winners – Mathematics (Volumes 1 and 2), a practice question workbook assembled by Dr. Dwight Berry (Webster’s Writing Lab) and Just Think: Grades 5 and 6 Ability Tests, compiled by a team of experienced Jamaican educators.

COMMUNITY BEAT: News + Notes from Negril to Morant Point

ST. ELIZABETH: Addressing high-school grads in the bread basket parish recently, state minister Floyd Green spoke of a new agri/eco project, dubbed the Greening of Jamaica. It’s the government’s fruit-tree planting programme, which is aimed at planting five million trees over the next five years, “to yield fresh, locally grown food that can provide nutritious food source and food security.” Green wants the youth, in particular, to get involved. “We have to guide our children in becoming leaders of tomorrow, and show them how to best care for our environment. That’s where we have to start,” he said. “We are experiencing significantly high temperatures and planting these fruit trees is a simple and effective method of reducing this unbearable heat.” 

ST. JAMES: CEO of the St. James Municipal Corporation, Gerald Lee, say for this fiscal year at least 400 persons in the parish will each be provided with grants of up to $50,000 to develop a small business, and these individuals will be monitored to ensure that the business ventures are sustained. The initiative falls under the Local Economic Development (LED) programme, which has budgeted $10 million for the exercise. “If they are going into chicken-rearing, we ensure that they provide the infrastructure and then we provide them with the working capital to start the business,” Lee explains. Montego Bay mayor Homer Davis (pictured above) likes the idea. “If we can empower our people,” he says, “then you will realize your dreams of taking care of yourself and taking care of your children.” 

ST. ANN: Northern Caribbean University (NCU) has opened a new campus in the garden parish. The North Jamaica Regional Campus (located at the Evansville Business Complex in St. Ann’s Bay) brings to three the number of regional campuses now operated by the university. It’s a strategic business move to better serve the parish’s business community, says Sherrice Lyons (Director of Regional Campuses). “It will also ensure accessibility for students from St. Ann, as well as those who may choose to travel from as far as St. Mary and Trelawney,” she says. According to Lyons, the St. Ann campus will eventually join the Kingston and Montego Bay regional campuses in offering full-time degree courses. The university’s headquarters and main campus is located in Manchester.

Friday, 14 June 2019

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Alexandra Gregory talks about her breakout role, her busy life and getting to great

YOU, ME & SHE: Gregory (seated) with COTE costars Wilson and Harris.

WHEN it comes to relationships, Alexandra Gregory is one of those take-no-mess girlfriends. “If I find out that you’re playing around with me, you’re gone,” she says bluntly. We’re chatting out in the yard at the Phoenix Theatre, where her play Case of the Ex just wrapped a two-weekend run. 

Standing at about five-foot-six, with cropped hair and blonde highlights, Gregory brings this same feisty streak to her character in the stage production, playing Dymond, an aspiring singer whose producer boyfriend (Kadeem Wilson) brings his ex (Dahlia Harris) back into the picture. Drama! 

Gregory is so convincing in the role, especially in scenes where she speaks her mind, that she copped a Thespy nomination back in February for Outstanding Supporting Actress. “As an actress I try to be a blank slate to be able to deliver what my director wants,” she explains. “I pretty much do whatever it takes to get the character right, and it was really important for me that the audience knows what this character is about.”

A standout talent of the new generation (alongside Shantol Jackson, Sabrina Thomas and Shakera Kelly), Gregory has no shortage of inspiration. 

“The actresses I admire include Dahlia Harris, for sure. I hyperventilated when I heard that I would be working with her on this show,” says the rising star, who also salutes Nadean Rawlins and was groomed by Suzanne Beadle, while a student at Ardenne High.

These days, she’s still a student, about to complete her first degree (in Psychology) at the University of the West Indies (Mona). “Offstage, I wear many hats,” she reports, laughing. “I’m a swimming instructor, a student and a cat mother.” 

She has a film project in the works, and her performing arts troupe Quilt (she’s been a member since 2017) has a remount coming up. 

At 21, Gregory says she feels like someone on track to greatness. “I’m proud of myself. Not a lot of people can say they’ve done some of the things I’ve been able to do,” she notes. “I’m also my hardest critic, so I feel there’s so much more to accomplish.” 

Who’s That Girl? Getting to Know Alexandra 
> Favourite Movies: Sweet Home Alabama, My Fair Lady 
> Book Recommendation: Olive Senior’s Gardening in the Tropics 
> Dessert Fave: Anything from Sugar & Spice 
> Life Principle: “Do good to people and good will follow you.”

NEWS FEED: Variety of events scheduled as nation mourns Seaga; Samantha Brown-Thompson is the new LASCO top cop…

THE LONG GOODBYE: Activities to honour the life and legacy of former Prime Minister Edward Seaga will slip into high gear in the coming week. On Sunday, June 16, the West Kingston-based Edward Seaga Sports Complex will come alive with the staging of an exhibition football game between a Tivoli Gardens Invitational lineup and a Premiere League All Stars team. The Little Theatre will provide the venue for a tribute concert from the arts community on Tuesday, June 18, featuring the National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC), Jamaican Folk Singers, Tivoli Dance Troupe, among other performing-arts groups. On Wednesday, June 19, Parliament will host a special sitting in Mr. Seaga’s honour. Meanwhile, the former JLP leader’s body will lie in state at the National Arena from Wednesday to Saturday, ahead of a wake/set-up on Saturday night (June 22) at the Tivoli Gardens Square, commencing at 7:30pm. The country will then pay final respects on Sunday, June 23, at the state funeral, being held at the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, starting at 12 noon. Interment follows at National Heroes Park. 

WOMAN POWER: Corporal Samantha Brown-Thompson is the 2018/19 LASCO Police Officer of the Year. Based at the station in Guy’s Hill (St. Catherine), where she is very active in the community, Brown-Thompson was this year’s sole female nominee among the finalists. Her prize package included a $350,000 cash award, the prestigious trophy and gift baskets. 

Quote Me! 
“We face an urgent crisis. It is time to act decisively. My message to governments is clear: tax pollution, end fossil fuel subsidies, and stop building new coal plants. We need a green economy not a grey economy.” – United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in his message to mark

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

LIFE + STYLE: Sugar Mill restaurant tops winners at Food Awards + Meiling, Claudia Pegus among designers headlining #CFW2019

EAT, PLAY, LAUGH: Culinary genius, gorgeous décor and zest-for-life elegance created a winning combination yet again as the Table Talk Food Awards (the Caribbean’s premier food event) took centrestage on the lawns of Devon House in St. Andrew on Thursday, May 30. Now in its 21st year, the food lovers’ event, put on annually by the Jamaica Observer, honoured hard-working and inventive industry players with awards, as patrons checked out the many booths and sampled the delectable offerings. Among the night’s big winners: Half Moon’s Sugar Mill (Norma Shirley Award for Restaurant of the Year); East Japanese Next Door (Best Watering Hole); Montego Bay’s S Hotel (Best Place to be Seen); Mystic India (Best Ethnic Restaurant); M10 (Best Restaurant for Jamaican Food); Nadine Burie (Dessert Chef of the Year); Executive Chef Dennis McIntosh (Chairman’s Award) and Gary ‘Butch’ Hendrickson (Lifetime Achievement Award). 

MISSION CATWALK: Some 14 designer collections will hit the runway when Caribbean Fashion Week (CFW) returns for its latest iteration, June 13 to 16, at Villa Ronai (Stony Hill) in St. Andrew. What do fashion lovers have to look forward to? “The best of Africa and the Caribbean on a magical floating runway in the Villa Ronai rainforest,” reveals organizers, Pulse. Saturday night’s roster will feature eye-catching, head-turning couture from Mutamba, Tokyo James, Ilaré, Biggy, Ituen Basi, Jeneil Williams and Claudia Pegus. Sunday night’s big finale will see sexy models walking in pieces by Hope Wade, drennaLUNA, The Cloth, Mai Atafo, Lanre da Silva, Heather Jones and Meiling. For more on #CFW2019, including ticket prices, visit pulseworld360.com.

‘SUPER’ SIDE EFFECTS: Jesus Christ Superstar producers want to stage more mega-musicals

STAGE PRESENCE: “We want to produce more of these shows,” says Smith (inset), with one of her young students.

YOUNG arts-based company First Dance Events, producers of Jesus Christ Superstar, which recently wrapped a successful two-night run of the Broadway musical at the Courtleigh Auditorium in New Kingston (after a stint at Iberostar in Montego Bay), say they have every intention of capitalizing on this sweet success. Primarily, they want to use lessons from the experience as a catalyst for orchestrating more large-scale productions of this kind.

“The feedback has been amazing, and we were pleased with the turnout. We were expecting more people in Kingston, but we were close to sold-out when we played at Iberostar,” says chief producer Jody Marie Smith, who runs First Dance Events with producing partner Andre Dixon. “Persons have told us that they enjoyed the show immensely. Many of them said they couldn’t believe the quality of the production and the quality of the acting and vocal performances.”

Both Smith and Dixon are from Montego Bay. Almost the entire cast and crew, including director David Tulloch, also hail from the West. “We are all Montegonians,” Smith tells TALLAWAH, beaming.

First Dance Events, now six years old, is all about the arts, operating a dance studio that offers classes for adults and children. Each year they put on a recital in June and an end-of-year showcase in December. Now, given the success of their first commercial production, doing a musical will be an annual thing.

“We want to produce more of these shows. We are branching out, and adding an annual musical to our calendar is part of the growth strategy we are looking at,” says Smith, who acquired the official Broadway rights for staging Jesus Christ Superstar, a pop-rock sensation by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber that follows Christ and Judas and the disciples, and climaxes with the Crucifixion.

Smith says the opening of a Kingston branch of FDE within a few years could be on the cards. “After six years, we feel accomplished,” she notes, “but there’s much more to come.”

Tulloch, who wouldn’t mind working with them again, has nothing but high praises for Smith, Dixon and the rest of the team. “It’s good to see them branching out,” he tells TALLAWAH. “It speaks to their boldness, and the effort has to be commended.”

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

MAGIC CARPET RIDE: Disney’s new ‘Aladdin’ is a richly entertaining delight

COUNT ON ME: Smith's Genie having the talk with Aladdin (Massoud).

BE honest: if a genie granted you three wishes right now, what would you ask for? For so many of us, the first request would, naturally, be to make all our problems disappear! 

In Disney’s new live-action update of Aladdin, a colourful, magical treat in 3D, our titular hero (talented newcomer Mena Massoud) is much more specific. But, as he ultimately learns, you can’t escape your destiny and, more often than not, the journey is a bumpy, treacherous ride.

Directed by Guy Ritchie (known for much more gritty cinematic fare like Rocknrolla), the movie is also a wonderful slice of nostalgia. You feel like a kid all over again, reconnecting with this Arabian tale of true love, royalty and loyalty.

Aladdin, accompanied by his trusty monkey, Abu, is coerced by the evil Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) to go into the Cave of Wonders to retrieve a lamp. Having completed the task, Aladdin (who discover a mysterious magic carpet) finds himself trapped inside the cave. Curious, he rubs the lamp, releasing the big, blue genie, played with no shortage of pizzazz and cheeky fun by Will Smith. 
What Aladdin, an orphan and an artful thief, really wants is to make himself worthy of the sultan’s beautiful daughter, Jasmine (Naomi Scott), who, with the help of her lady-in-waiting Dalia (Nasim Pedrad), is determined to protect her aging father (Navid Negahban) and their kingdom from the wiles of the power-hungry Jafar. 

The forbidden romance that develops between Aladdin and Jasmine is what gives the movie its pulse – not to mention the genie’s life-of-the-party antics and the infectious musical numbers. 

As with so many of Disney’s offerings, the movie holds valuable lessons about friendship and family, but none more telling than the simple fact that though people don’t always see the real you when you’re ‘royalty,’ real character always shines through. Tyrone’s Verdict: A-

Friday, 31 May 2019

‘CRISIS AVERTED’: Loyal NCB customers to reap benefits of latest system upgrades, says apologetic CEO Patrick Hylton

MAKING CHANGES: Hylton says ongoing work at NCB will greatly improve customer service.

PATRICK Hylton wants no more disgruntled NCB customers. Stemming from last weekend’s delay in salaries being transferred to customer accounts due to upgrade work on the bank’s mobile and online systems, the CEO has given his word that there will not be a recurrence.

“The upgrades that we are doing will improve the customer experience, giving more functionality and more options,” he told TALLAWAH. “And they can expect a more innovative way of doing things from now on, and some new products and services.” 

The delay in the salary figures for May being reflected in the customer accounts led to a wave of complaints that rippled islandwide. 

In his interview with TALLAWAH at the Liguanea Club on Thursday evening, Hylton was also quick to issue an apology to the affected customers. “We apologize profusely to those Jamaicans who’ve been affected, and we appreciate the patience in the given circumstances,” he said.

The checks and balances of their service improvement work will no doubt continue. “There is going to come a time in the next few days, when we’ll have to do a post-mortem because we believe it’s important for people to get their pay in a timely fashion,” Hylton emphasized.

Meanwhile, NCB’s system glitch not only left tongues wagging. It sparked serious concern among customers over how equipped the NCB Group is to respond effectively and speedily to a sudden crisis. 

“I think, at the end of the day, the moment we recognized that there was a problem, we put in place a strategy to fix the problem,” Hylton noted. “There is no perfect system, and communication is very important in moments of crisis. We had people working all through the weekend, day and night, to get people paid.” 

He added, “Based on the feedback we got, people were saying we could have communicated better. But, going forward, people are definitely going to reap the benefits of this upgrading work.”

SOCIETY, SOCIETY: ILO 100th anniversary banquet brings together honored guests, trade-union stalwarts

FINE COMPANY: The evening's guests and awardees included a who's who of iconic Jamaicans.

What: Awards banquet in celebration of 100th anniversary of the ILO (and the Trade Union Act of Jamaica) 
Where: Talk of the Town, Jamaica Pegasus Hotel 
When: Wednesday evening 
Guest List: PM Andrew Holness, MP Juliet Holness, Portia Simpson-Miller, Shahine Robinson, Pearnel Charles, Fenton Ferguson, Dr. Horace Dalley, Danny Roberts, Lars Johannson, Dr. Orville Taylor, Emmanuel DaRosa, and others 

A global celebration: Paying homage to the International Labour Organization (ILO) on the occasion of such a momentous milestone, Robinson said this “awesome body” has managed to make workers across the planet feel more secure in their jobs: “The remarkable contribution of the ILO remains unrivalled,” the labour and social security minister noted in her remarks at the podium. “A century later, workers can now enjoy more rights and privileges and are not exploited.” Robinson also hailed the movers and shakers driving Jamaica’s industrial relations sector. “The trade unions continue to play a pivotal role in this country, particularly in advocacy for workers,” she said, “ensuring dignity, pride and stability for our workers.” 

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: In his keynote address, PM Holness echoed similar sentiments. “This centennial celebration must come with a renewed sense of purpose. It is work that will sustain us, and the government is committed to the decent work agenda,” he said, before saluting the night’s awardees who, he believes, “have contributed selflessly to the advancement of labour relations in Jamaica, [fostering] dignity and respect for all workers.” 

Distinguished service: The honorees included public servants who have been working in the industrial relations sector for over three decades. Included among the award recipients: Senator Lambert Brown, Helene Davis-Whyte, Senator Kavan Gayle, Vincent Morrison and Danny Roberts. Such former ministers of labour as Simpson-Miller, Ferguson, Charles and Dalley were also cited on the honour roll. 

Let me entertain you: Introduced by compere Norma Brown-Bell, enchanting songbirds Karen Smith and before her Kimiela ‘Candy’ Isaacs treated the audience to classics and covers (Etta James, Tina Turner) that gave the evening some tuneful sparkle as the wine glasses tinkled and the toasts were offered up.

THEATRE REVIEW: Two funny new ensemble comedies tackle relationship dynamics and conflicts of interest

RISKY BUSINESS: An old adage states that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. The fascinating characters at the centre of Sc(h)ampagne Popping get a dose – a whole mouthful, actually – and it’s very acidic. Set inside a moderately successful sales company, the play is about workplace angst, shady dealings and revenge served freezer-cold. Diamond (Marsha Campbell) has been secretly scamming the company’s elderly overseas-based clients for months and making a killing. When frustrated coworkers Oraine (Andre Kelly) and Meeka (Dacoda Mitchell) discover Diamond’s secret they want in. And soon, new staff addition Sister Passion (Trudy Bell, hilarious), a Scripture-quoting busybody, also wants her share of the jackpot. The lucrative scheme hits a snag however when their horrible supervisor (Devon Tattle) catches wind of it and they have to improvise to silence him. Written by Bell and directed by Orville Hall, Sc(h)ampagne Popping (frequently humorous) vividly captures how a deceptively simple plot, mired in greed, can spiral out of control with damning consequences for all. [B

HOUSE RULES: When it comes to her man and the sanctity of their union, Delcita (Andrea Wright) is not playing games. Wright (once again wearing hats as writer, director, producer and leading lady) makes this abundantly clear in Honeymoon, a laugh-out-loud and occasionally moving comedy that introduces Patchie (Jermaine Isaacs, one to watch), Delcita’s other half. Del and Patchie work as helper and handyman for well-to-do senior couple Mass Elijah (Patrick Smith) and Miss Gladys (Trudy Campbell). The couple’s tenant, Strawberry (played with sly seductiveness by Shakera Kelly) has the hots for Patchie and wants him for herself. Patchie, who comes off as strong but somewhat naïve, is also being stalked by Pamela (Tamara Wellington), who works at another house nearby. Will Pachie remain faithful? Can Delcita handle the stress? Audiences are treated to two hours of theatrical entertainment laced with Wright’s usually clever storytelling and instantly recognizable slices of Jamaican life. [B]

Saturday, 25 May 2019

WHO IS THIS MAN? Jesus Christ Superstar serves up a tuneful and energy-filled take on the Messiah’s last days

HIGH & MIGHTY: Things are looking up for the disciples in this scene.

Jesus Chris Superstar (First Dance Events)
Director: David Tulloch
Cast: Francois Medley, Janeel Mills, Rory Frankson and David Freare
Venue: Courtleigh Auditorium, New Kingston

TRANSORMING the Biblical story of Jesus’ last days with his disciples into a pop-rock musical means it’s highly likely you’ll take creative liberties with the original story.

Unsurprisingly, Jesus Christ Superstar, filled with flashes of the innovative brilliance of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, accomplishes a rollicking, hugely enjoyable theatrical spectacle by putting a provocative spin on the passion of the Christ, deeply anchored in rousing music. The original score alone is worth the price of admission.

Jamaica’s theatrical maverick David Tulloch (an artist who clearly relishes an exciting risk and fresh challenges) and producers First Dance Events have made a refreshing addition to the season’s offerings with their take on the Broadway hit. It’s a splendid success, in spite of occasional glitches with the sound equipment.

Leading the competent cast is Francois Medley as Jesus. Medley looks like a meek choirboy but he’s blessed with a stunning multi-octave voice and acting chops that makes his mild-mannered Christ roar to life in scenes where he drives the money-changers and gamblers from the temple and faces off against Judas.

And speaking of Mr. Iscariot, he’s played with gusto and malevolent neediness by David Freare, a powerhouse vocalist who excels in the spotlight.
As we all know, he sells out Jesus to Caiaphas (Rory Frankson, hardly recognizable with that elaborate headdress) and Annas (Andre Williams), before Pilate (Gregory Smith) finally hands Jesus over to the soldiers and the blood-thirsty mob to be crucified.

Expectedly, Peter (Tyreek Friginett) denies him three times, but the likes of Simon Zealotes (Charles Rodney) and Mary Magdalene (Janeel Mills) are unwavering in their support. “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” she sings, delivering a beautiful solo of conflicted love.

The gorgeous songs (some lively, others plaintive and deeply affecting) are wonderfully realized, culminating with the smash title song, a high-energy confection full of danceable lyrics and soul power. 

To some, the show’s largely relentless energy and celebratory tone (particularly the finale), in the face of something as grave as the Crucifixion, might come off as a tad irreverent. But I think it all just speaks to Webber’s interpretation of the rock-star status that Jesus acquired among men during his sojourn here on Earth. 

Not everyone was fond of him – they eventually killed him – but his Messianic appeal was undeniable and still resonates to this day. Tyrone’s Verdict: B+

THE OTHER SIDE OF: Dahlia Harris enjoys epic films, a long drive, and spending time in her kitchen

IN HER ELEMENT: Harris works the  room at the recent Go Red for Women High Tea at the Terra Nova Hotel in St. Andrew.

Reprising her role as veteran entertainer (and life-of-the-party) Cyattie in this season’s remount of the hit play Case of the Ex, Dahlia Harris is having tonnes of fun while doing what she does best: deliver a sensational performance. Here, she chats with TALLAWAH about her favourite things, and more. 

The secret talent I wish I had: To do nails. I can’t even paint my own nails. (Laughs). 

If I could have three famous people over for dinner I’d choose: Oliver Samuels, Queen Latifah and Usain Bolt 

The best thing I can cook is: Beef lasagna 

Last time I laughed out loud: I laugh out loud all the time. And every time I am on the phone talking to my sisters. 

My favourite movie is: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring 

My favourite Bob Marley song is: “No Woman No Cry” 

These days I’m most grateful for: Life. I’ve lost a lot of friends already this year, so I have a lot to be thankful for. 

My idea of a great weekend is: Jumping in my car and driving out and meeting new people.

Friday, 24 May 2019

ON THE SCENE: Reggae Sumfest hosts launch @ Iberostar; Stylish women ‘Go Red’; plus, Miss Kitty, Mark Anthony and friends

TEAMING UP: May 19, Kingston. The senior Reggae Girlz’ pre-World Cup encounter against Panama on Sunday drew appearances by sports and culture minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange and Miss Kitty, seen here sharing lens time with gospel singjay Chozenn and Jambiz International’s Lenford Salmon inside the National Stadium. (Photo: Skkan Media)

SHOW TIME: May 18, St. James. DownSound Entertainment head honcho Joe Bogdanovich and businessman Robert Russell are feeling good at the Montego Bay launch of Reggae Sumfest 2019, held at Iberostar Rose Hall, repeat sponsors of the annual music festival. (Photo: Skkan Media)

WE LOVE THE VIBES: May 18, St. James. The Reggae Sumfest launch in Montego Bay last Friday also brought out Pepsi’s Carla Hollingsworth and music producer Scatta Burrell, among several other famous faces and industry peeps. (Photo: Skkan Media) 

TWO OF A KIND: May 18, St. Andrew. Ace designer Mark Anthony was the man of the hour, as his eponymous fashion house hosted a Sip & Shop evening last Friday, with appearances by fellow design whiz Keneea Linton-George and a host of other stylish people and fashion lovers. (Photo: Skkan Media)

OH, SNAP: May 12, United States. Celebrating the release of his sophomore album, And Then (VP Records), crooner Chris Martin recently partied with stars like Power actress Naturi Naughton in New York City. (Photo: VP Records)

PRETTY WOMEN: May 8, St. Andrew. Hostess Dahlia Harris and ageless beauty Cindy Breakspeare spent some girl time while attending the 2019 renewal of the Go Red for Women High Tea soiree at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel. (Photo: Skkan Media)

GIRL POWER: May 8, St. Andrew. Regal ladies galore (Sara Lawrence, Christelle Harris and Debra Chen among them) were in attendance at this year’s Go Red for Women, which annually raises funds for charity work. (Photo: Skkan Media)

FOOD FOR THE POOR 5K: Superfit Henry Thomas, Llori Sharp emerge winners of successful 2019 staging

PEAK PERFORMERS: Participants posing for photos at the finish line.

HAS Kemar Leslie lost his form? Contrary to expectations, the Rainforest Seafoods star did not make the top three, as the leading participants crossed the finish line at the 2019 Food for the Poor 5K Run/Walk at Emancipation Park in New Kingston on Sunday morning. 

But Leslie’s arch-nemesis Henry Thomas (still representing UCT Steppas and still going strong) was in fine form, outpacing the rest of the field and stopping the clock at 16 minutes and 39 seconds to add another title and trophy to his rapidly expanding collection.

Seasoned contender Kosiani Dunkley (now with R.I.O.T Squad) took second place with a time of 17 mins 28 secs, with UCT Steppas’ Royale Gordon (17 mins 35 secs) coming in third.

On the women’s side, Llori Sharp returned to winning ways, placing first (27 mins 14 secs), ahead of Olivia McCoy (23 mins 21secs) and Annakay Edwards (24 mins 33 secs).

The Walk category was just as competitive, and the favourites did not disappoint. Shizzle Fit’s consistently outstanding pacer Duwell Allen finished ahead of the pack, with a time of 27 minutes and 24 seconds. Lenworth Hunter produced another solid effort for second place (29 mins 56 secs), with Shavon Henry (31 mins 57 secs) taking third.

Among the ladies, Anna-Kay Swaby (32 mins 55 secs), Paula Sinclair (34 mins 56 secs) and Patricia Grant (36 mins 01 sec) were the fastest finishers. 

Over 3,000 individuals (including wheelchair entrants) took part in the charity event. While Kingston Freeport Terminal copped the award for the largest registered team (189 persons), Rainforest Seafoods produced the largest number of runners/walkers (116 persons). 

Now in its 5th year, the Food for the Poor 5K raises money annually to build homes and provide other essential services for society’s less fortunate.

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.