On the 7th of May, the 14th BOH Cameronian Awards was held at St. Regis, Kuala Lumpur. It was a gala of colour, personality and prestige – celebrating the performing arts industry in Malaysia in all its splendor.
“I thought I was at the Oscars, with everyone all dressed up so nice”, quipped YB Tan Sri Norliza Rofli, director of Jabatan Kebudayaan and Kesenian Negara. The Awards (affectionately known as the Cammies) this year welcomes a new angle, as it embraces corporate champions with open arms in order to ensure a more sustainable future for the industry.
It was a wonderful gathering of art practitioners from across the spectrum. True to YB’s words, everyone did dress to the nines.
— Kakiseni (@kakiseni) May 7, 2017
More than simply recognizing the painstaking efforts of artists, the Cammies this year was a platform for production houses from the Best Of list to pitch their value to the people that matter. None of this was in the least bit cloying. In fact it served as a wonderful reminder to us of the many contributions that production houses or artistic ensembles like PH7 Production Management, The Actors Studio or Dua Space Production (to only name a few) have given to the community for the past decade or so. The only step left in this process is to wake up the sleeping beast that is Corporate Malaysia (some of whom are already awake of course, as proven by contributions, e.g. Sime Darby through the Yayasan Sime Darby Arts Festival).
Rendra Zawawi, a musician and composer of many accolades, and Mr. Tan Chong Hing, a visionary who brought Lion Dance to a much wider audience, were the gamechangers of this year’s Cammies. These prominent and well-decorated figures were called up to announce the names of the winners in each category. Although, a few things were left unanswered – such as the absence of a nominee list and not to mention, entire categories – the awards were given to those definitely deserving. True to the claims that the Best Of list category is not a limiting factor, there were several productions that won awards that were not from the list such as Mahsuri, which bagged the prize for Innovation in Musical Theatre. This goes to show that there’s still hope for the smaller production houses and artistic ensembles too. Just because you don the “indie” label or are a part of the independent theatre scene, does not mean you don’t stand a Chance (this is a Grammy joke about the artist, Chance the Rapper. I feel sorry for myself too).
Overall, it was a splendid night. Performances by the power duo of the Malaysian Dreamgirls prodution, Dina & Elvira of And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going rocked the stage. Rendra Zawawi’s talent was also channeled through the vocal prowess of Shanel Shanty as she sang Arena Cahaya (co-written by Zee Avi), to the accompanying, charming touch of ballroom dancing by two dancers. The cast and crew of MUD: The Story of Kuala Lumpur also gave a shorter yet sharper rendition of the play, as a rightful but sad farewell to their time performing at Panggung Bandaraya for the past 3 years.
— The Daily Seni (@thedailyseni) May 7, 2017
A moment of silence was also devoted to those who have left us. Important people such as Allahyarhamah Rohani Yusof, Samantha Schubert, Tan Sri S.M. Salim, and many more received tributes.
All in all, there is much to say about how the importance of the arts was emphasized on at the ceremony. More than awarding individuals, it was about highlighting the relevance of the scene. YB Tan Sri Norliza Rofli talks about how the arts awakens us to realities and helps develop confidence in children. CEO of BOH Plantations, Caroline Russell, speaks highly of how much the scene has evolved. President of Kakiseni, Low Ngai Yuen, presented a slide to show the progress we’ve made as an industry. An industry trying to appeal to a bigger society that sometimes, albeit inadvertently, treat us as a non-priority.
— The Daily Seni (@thedailyseni) May 7, 2017
Whether the Cammies works as a ‘pitch night’ platform to secure a sustainable future for the performing arts industry remains to be seen. What’s clear is that some kind of diligence was incorporated into this. Its effects on the distant tomorrow is uncertain, but to quote lovable host Edwin Sumun, before he opened the envelope to announce the winner for Innovation in Musical Theatre, “This is going to be an interesting one”.
Enough with the rambling. If you’re interested to find out more about the productions that made it to the Best Of list, and about the changes made to the categories of the awards, click here. Below are the list of winners for the Cammies.
Best Overall Production:
Into The Woods
Innovation in Musical Theatre:
Mahsuri directed by Shafeeq Shajahan
Deric Gan for Richard III
Best Production Value (Music):
Carpe Diem by Checkmate Creative
Best Actor in Supporting Role:
Sukania Venugopal for The Language Archive
Best Group Instrumental Music Performance:
Hands 1 for Percussion Paradise
Best Group Dance Performance:
Asia Duo Dance Company for ‘Cansur’ in Axiomatic
Best Costume & Makeup Design (Dance):
Quito Yang for Haha (Dua Productions)
Best Sound and Music Design (Dance):
Ng Chor Guan for 2020: I’m from 2020
Best Set Design:
Raja Malik for The Language Archive
Best Choreography in a Feature Length Production:
Anthony Meh & Aman Yap for Black & White Variations
Best Solo Instrumental Music Performance:
Fung Chen Wei for “Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto”