BOH Cameronian Arts Awards 2020 goes online

The show will be livestreamed to viewers across Malaysia and on Kakiseni’s Facebook page tomorrow at 8.30pm

by LYDIA NATHAN

THE world of performing arts has been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic in a big way with various major international events and shows either postponed or cancelled.

On the international scene, Broadway is one of the biggest casualties as it will keep its curtains closed for the rest of this year.

Many other international shows are signalling that they do not expect a return to the stage until late winter or early spring. Even Cirque du Soleil has cut some 3,500 jobs to avoid bankruptcy.

Still, for the more resilient quarters, the show must go on, with the help of digital technology and innovation that may just be the solution for years to come before everything goes back to normal.

Custodians of the 17th BOH Cameronian Arts Awards are not about to give up and have decided to go digital for the first time this year, since Persatuan Kakiseni began organising it in 2002.

Themed “Antara Satu Sama Lain” the show will be livestreamed to viewers across Malaysia and on Kakiseni’s Facebook page tomorrow at 8.30pm.

According to a statement by Kakiseni, the awards night will continue to give recognition to game changers who have trailblazed the industry with distinct artistic voices.

This year, the award will feature a total of 36 nominees in dance, music, musical theatre and theatre, and 10 nominees in the “Best Of 2019” category.

“The aim is to bridge people from all backgrounds and locations so we can celebrate together the excellence in the industry regardless of the challenges we are facing. Despite not being able to have the usual on-ground awards celebration this year, the ceremony will not be short on entertainment, glitz and glamour.

“We invite everyone to dress up and enjoy the show from your homes,” the statement read.

It added that the enthusiasm and determination from everyone within the industry allowed producers to create the live streaming of the show, which is also a strong testament to how the industry has evolved and adapted with drastic changes in the new reality of social distancing.

The show will be directed by Christopher Ling and hosted by Dominic Lucien Luk with lively performances by Tony Eusoff and Nadia Aqilah, husband and wife theatre duo Michael Chen and Anrie Too, and actors Arshad Adam and Surnia Fizul.

Through interactions with traditional cultures, we find the balance between tradition and contemporary, says Leow

Meanwhile, in an interview with The Malaysian Reserve (TMR), nominee Orang Orang Drum Theatre (OODT) executive producer and performance tour manager Damien Leow said he really appreciates the awards going online and hopes more artists will remain inspired with their creations.

“We hope that through this platform we can share our music, our arts to more people and reach audiences of different backgrounds,” he said.

Leow said the company’s piece “LaguKu 2.0” is the fifth production that has maintained percussion as main instruments.

The troupe is a dance theatre expression that combines drumming, body movements and theatre to create a unique style and ensemble.

“This piece turns the observations and attitudes in life into a feast for the ears and eyes, and continues to capture the hidden loneliness in the chaos of the prosperous city, releasing it in a cacophony of rawness,” he told TMR.

According to Leow, the performance usually has 20 performers, but this year the group collaborates with its vocal and sape teacher from Sarawak, Rosemary Joel.

“After six years of journeying in the performing arts, OODT has grown from mere drummers to musicians to performers who need to master a variety of skills.

“In recent years, we’ve brought the troupe to tour at many cultural and dance arts festivals in Europe, such as in France, Hungary and Serbia, and through interactions with traditional cultures, we find the balance between tradition and contemporary,” Leow said.

He added that the company is in the middle of preparing a new music album for some songs from “LaguKu 2.0”.

“We hope that during this pandemic period, we can still get support from the audience,” Leow added.

Meanwhile, Yasmin Ahmad’s legacy in her production of “Sepet The Movie” continues to live on in the form of a musical, which is also up for nominations this year.

“Sepet The Musical” is a production by Malaysian-British company, Liver & Lung who have won many awards.

Malaysian culture is inherently musical and our language is melodic and lyrical, says Shafeeq

Founder Shafeeq Shajahan told TMR he is glad to have two shows being nominated this year, and is looking forward to the award night.

Both “Sepet The Musical” and “Malaya Relieved” are up for nominations this year. According to Shafeeq, honouring the brilliance in Yasmin Ahmad’s movie in 2005 was a priority as he sought to bring the cinematic masterpiece into the world of music.

“When we were writing, directing and composing, we realised very quickly that the best way to pay homage to the original was to focus on Jason and Orked’s romance.

“So, we chose to feature only two actors in the musical,” he said.

He said Orked was played by actress Badrika Bahadur, while Joshua Gui took on the role of Jason.

“Liver & Lung is known for its immersive musical experiences with small groups of audiences in small spaces. This musical was no different,” he said.

Shafeeq said the audience dressed up, snacked on food his mother prepared and entered a world of music and storytelling that was immensely enjoyable.

“All the shows in 2019 really took audiences down the memory lane, and the fact that it was an interaction between the two that made it so unique. This resulted in an overwhelmingly positive feedback,” he said.

He added that the musical explored human conditions and challenged social norms in the most fun, spectacular and fabulous way.

“Malaysian culture is inherently musical and our language is melodic and lyrical. Reframing Malaysian narratives in musical form has been a great experience for us,” Shafeeq said.

He said he is glad everyone will be able to enjoy it on screen.

Persatuan Kakiseni said it encourages people to watch and support the talent that locals have shown so they may continue to grow.

“We hope people will enjoy the show very much, a lot of hard work has been put into it and on that night, nominees will find out if the unrelenting efforts and passion have what it takes to be awarded as the best in the industry,” it said.

The awards night will also include messages from its president, Low Ngai Yuen, and the chairman of BOH Plantations Caroline Russell.