Sat | Apr 20, 2019

First-time female theatrical director lands 11 Actor Boy nominations

Published:Sunday | March 4, 2018 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small
Maya Wilkinson

For the upcoming Actor Boy Awards, well-rounded thespian Maya Wilkinson can celebrate. Having her start in the local theatre as an actor and writer, Wilkinson told The Sunday Gleaner that the aim of her debut theatrical production, Heist, was to stretch her creativity by raising the question about how Jamaica would receive a new kind of comedy. By all appearances, the answer is 'with open arms'.

The play has left an imprint on the local theatre community, receiving a total of 11 nominations for the ceremony.

"First of all, I'm so happy to just be recognised for the work. As artists overall, especially in theatre, we are underestimated and undervalued. I didn't create the work with the intention of winning awards," Wilkinson said. "I did it to create an experience that my audience and entire production team could thoroughly enjoy. Laughter is healing! I also did it to challenge myself.

"I had the idea for Heist, and I had many little voices in my own head telling me it would be a huge undertaking. They weren't wrong, but they didn't stop me. The challenge of working with a large all-male cast, putting together a production with a new style of comedy was tough but beautiful," she added.

Months after its initial run at the Philip Sherlock Centre from July 2 -30, 2017, Heist, was revived for another week, from September 16 to 19.


Three years prior, at the Tallawah Dramatic Arts Festival 2014, with a cast of three males - Desmond Dennis, David Crossgill and Darian Reid - and a runtime of 20 minutes, Heist received awards for Best Production, Best New Play, Best Lead Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Set, and high commendation awards for acting, direction and production.

For the Actor Boy Awards, it is nominated for Best Set Design (Maya Wilkinson), Best Special Effects (Wilkinson, Nadia Roxburgh), Best Lighting (Roxburgh), Best Costumes (Wilkinson), Best Choreography (Michael Holgate), Best Comedy, Best New Jamaican Script, Best Supporting Actor (Tyane Robinson), Best Actor (Desmond Dennis), Best Director (Wilkinson), and Best Production.

"Most directors are male, and it was a serendipitous thing that this story was my commercial debut and just so happened to have an all-male cast. An unintentional choice, but an interesting one, I believe," she shared with The Sunday Gleaner, in a past interview.

"I am also excited about the publicity that we have received from this and the possibility it presents for other young girls and women who want to write and direct. I am the only woman who has been nominated for Best New Jamaican Script and the only woman nominated for Best Director, alongside persons like Eugene Williams and Trevor Nairne, who are big inspirations to me. To be recognised with them is in itself an honour, but I would like to see more women up for this award in the years to come".

"I've learned so much from the experience, and I'm ready to continue my journey. The nominations I've received are icing on the cake," she closed.