Thu | Sep 19, 2019

Big wins for ‘Belly Woman’!

Published:Wednesday | April 17, 2019 | 12:26 AMShereita Grizzle/Gleaner Writer

The school of Drama at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts had the most nominations going into Monday night’s 29th staging of the annual Actor Boy Awards, held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston. The School of Drama’s three productions, Belly Woman, Belly Woman Bangarang and Ti-Jean and His Brothers, copped a total of 26 nods. However, when the bronze trophies were handed out, it was Belly Woman that walked away the night’s biggest winner. Belly Woman Bangarang and Ti-Jean and His Brothers, while copping eight and seven nominations, respectively, did not win any awards.

Omaall Wright’s Belly Woman swept top honours at theatre’s most celebrated evening after being declared the winner in six of the 11 categories in which it was nominated. The production secured the prizes for Best Production, Best Ensemble, and Best Director, three of the night’s most prestigious awards. The Dorraine Reid-led cast also won the awards for Best Set Design, Best Lighting Design, and Best Tragedy.

Speaking with The Gleaner after the event, Reid was overcome with emotions. Still in awe of how much her cast had accomplished, she recalled the journey that brought them their victory. “It was difficult for many reasons. I am a full-time lecturer, so I have a lot of coursework to complete, lessons to plan, and, at the same time, I was working on Basil Dawkins’ show as light and sound technician. I would finish class, have my rehearsals, then from there to Basil Dawkins’ show. It was a long, hard journey, but everyone believed in the project and put in 100 per cent. My students were extremely supportive, and my other theatre friends and family helped to make the process easier,” she said. “To see what we have accomplished tonight makes me happy. I am happy, but I’m also extremely humbled. When you go into a space where you’re nominated in categories with your teachers, past lecturers and persons who have mentored you before, it really humbles you.”

A special place

Reid, who was trying her hand at directing for the first time, said that although all the awards meant a lot, the win for Best Director will hold a special place in her heart. “The Best Director award means the most because when you do something for the very first time, you try to do everything to the best of your ability, and that’s what I did. Alchemist will call it beginners’ luck, so you do well at the very first one because the universe wants you to do more, but it means the most simply because it really took the efforts of my entire team. I did not do it alone,” she explained. “It was my first major production, and I had a cast of about 17. I was asking myself, ‘Why would you attempt to take on a major production for the first time with such a large cast?’, but I have no regrets. I learnt so many lessons along the way, and everything came from the heart. Also, the script was written by a fellow past student. All those things coming together made this the most meaningful.”

Belly Woman, which explores issues brought on through the brutality of slavery, also incorporates elements of the Jamaican culture, including Jonkunnu, set against the stories of Three Finger Jack and Lover’s Leap. The play managed to keep its competitors at bay on an evening that saw productions from Barrack’s Entertainment, David Tulloch, Patrick Brown and Dredz Production also copping several top honours. Dredz Production’s One Blood was perhaps Belly Woman’s toughest competition, nabbing three awards, including Best New Jamaican Play, Best Drama and Best Sound Design. Barrack’s Entertainment’s Black Sheep nabbed two awards, including Best Comedy. Actor Everaldo Creary gave the production its second win when he copped the award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.

Other big wins on the night included Best Actress in a Supporting Role, which went to Ruth Ho Shing for her part in Basil Dawkins’ Maas Matt Come To Town; Best Actress In A Lead Role, which went to Neisha-Yen Jones for her part in What Goes Around; and Best Actor in a Lead Role, which went to Ricky Rowe for his role in Young & The Wreckless.