Paying tribute to the legendary stage personas

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THE BOH Cameronian Arts Awards is back with its 12th edition. Organised by Kakiseni and BOH Plantations, the Cammies — as it is affectionately known — has established itself over the years as the country’s foremost recognition for the performing arts industry, growing from a one-night ceremony to a month-long festival celebrating the arts.

This year, Cammie fever kicks off even earlier with more than a month of activities and public events planned around the Klang Valley that will culminate in the awards ceremony on April 26 at Soju, Sunway Pyramid, Selangor. 

“There’s so much energy being put into one night … everyone in the industry comes out in full force. So I want to share this with more people and that’s why we are doing more than 40 days. We want to re-introduce arts in a most personal and intimate way,” says the head of Kakiseni, Low Ngai Yuen. 

At the Nominees Announcement Party last week, it was announced that the 12th edition will include a tribute to five individuals considered anchors and pioneers in the Malaysian performing arts scene, namely, Chin San Sooi, Normah Nordin, Datuk Rahim Razali, Marion D’Cruz and Datuk Faridah Merican. Referring to them as “living legends”, Low said, “We should learn from them, even now. These artists are still relevant. They are still giving, still working. They’ve done so much.” 

The five veteran artists were present at the intimate event, which was held at Alexis Bistro at The Gardens Mall. 

Datuk Faridah Merican was certainly amused at being labelled a legend, and quipped, “I only know I’m still a worker, and a very poor worker at that.” 

For the uninitiated, Faridah runs the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac), which she founded together with husband and artistic director Joe Hasham. At the event, the “First Lady of Malaysian Theatre” revealed, “I am most proud of the fact that we’ve built many theatres. I’m proud that Joe and I were unafraid, we went in and we built our own space. We have not stopped and we are not going to stop. Of course, I know that I have ruffled feathers. But it comes with the profession, with the business and trade. It comes with dedication to what you believe in.”

Doyenne of dance Marion D’Cruz was also happy to be honoured. “I am proud of the fact that I’m still here, that I’m still making interesting work. I’m proud that my work has changed a lot over the years; I’m not doing the same old things and I like that. I am proud to be a teacher as well,” she said. The Five Arts Centre co-founder and pioneer also expressed pride in the new generation of artists who are producing interesting work through the theatre company she founded with her late husband, Datuk Krishen Jit. “When we started, it was to create a platform for Malaysian creativity … It’s still about experimental work, pushing boundaries and alternative art forms, all of which are part of the big picture,” said Marion. 

A new category of awards has been added to the list this year — the Junior Cammies, which sees five awards presented to school students who have shown artistic talent for their productions in design, original script, ensemble cast, principle role performance and direction. This rings in a total of 44 awards under five different categories. Judged by an independent panel comprising reputable practitioners and personalities in the performing arts industry, the votes are then tabulated by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). 

This year, the Aswara Dance Company dominates the Dance category including a sweep of all but one for Best Featured Performer award. Hands Percussion’s highly-praised Tchaikovsky On Gamelan takes multiple nominations in the Music category. Choral group The Canticle Singers are a sure bet for the Best Group Performance — Vocal award, taking all three nomination slots for their show, Bravissimo, directed by HK Chong. Ang Mei Foong from the group is also nominated for the Best Solo Performance — Vocal award, alongside musical theatre artist Stephanie Van Driessen and Chi Hoe Mak for L’Elisir D’Amore. 

Yang Wei Han’s epic Xuan Zang is up for Best Original Score and Best Direction, as well as Best Choreographer, going up against Harith Iskandar and Hans Isaac’s Supermokh The Musical (based on the late footballer Mokhtar Dahari) and Enfiniti Vision Media’s third season of P  Ramlee The Musical. Instant Café Theatre with Cake Theatrical’s Raj and The End of Tragedy written by Jo Kukathas is up for Best Group Performance in the Theatre category, as well as Best Direction by Natalie Hennedige. Veteran actress, Ida Nerina, will vie for the Best Actor in a Leading Role award alongside fellow actor Na’a Murad for Faith Healer, presented by The Actors Studio.

The BOH Cameronian Arts Awards is endorsed by The National Department for Culture and Arts under the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia. The awards are supported by BOH Plantations, PwC, Alexis Bistro, Prudential Assurance Malaysia Bhd, Borders, Deromp, Rapid Model, Soju Sunway, MAC Cosmetics, Makespace, AFO Radio, Capri Communications, Fearless Ideas & Designs and Garang Pictures. 


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This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on March 26, 2015.