Actor Boy Awards Back On
The annual Actor Boy Awards (ABA) are back on track, set to take place on Monday at The Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston. The 2019 staging of the awards, which recognises excellence in local theatre, was originally set for April 1, at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel but had to be postponed due to ‘issues beyond the organiser’s control’.
“Those issues have been remedied, according to Maurice Bryan, co-producer of the event.
Bryan told The Gleaner that with the ABAs being the only premier awards show in the local theatre space, he and his team pulled out all the stops to ensure the show would go on.
This year’s event will take on a more intimate format than usual, but Bryan said that those who have been working hard in the local theatre space will be recognised and that is all that matters. “It’s no secret that we have been having a difficulty with sponsorship over the last few years, and this year has been particularly challenging, more than any other year, we’ve had so far,” he said. “But as we say in theatre, ‘the show must go on,’ so we decided that regardless of what we were going through, or what format the show takes, we still have to put on a show to award those who put their heart and soul into performing last year.”
Bryan also indicated that cancelling the show would have been a grave disappointment to the judges, who had already invested their time. “The judges we have at ABA work without pay, and having already judged all the shows, giving freely of their time, we didn’t want their work to be in vain. We may not have the show that people are used to, but being the only event of its kind in the industry, we have to have the event. It will be a smaller event this year, but everyone is happy that it’s still on,” he said.
“The nominations had already come out, and we have a lot of new actors and playwrights who we’re excited about for their first nomination and that’s why we have to keep this going. We have to reward new talent when it has been unearthed and the ABAs does that every year.”
The Gleaner understands that over 50 nominations have been announced, with the School of Drama at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts earning the largest number of nominations, with 30 this year from three major productions for the period under review - Bellywoman, Bellywoman Bangarang, and Ti Jean & His Brothers. One Blood, a production from Dredz Productions, has 12 nominations.
Jambiz Productions’ Romi & Julie has 11, with theatre royalty Glen Campbell and Sakina Deer up for Best Actor and Actress in a supporting role. Fabian Barracks’ Black Sheep came in with 10 nominations; Jeezum Peas with seven; Sugar Daddy with five; Basil Dawkins’ Maas Matt Comes to Town with five nominations and Bone of Contention also with five nods. The musical Beauty and the Beast goes into the awards night with four nominations, Young & the Wreckless with three, As He Watches with two and What Goes Around with one. Bryan told The Gleaner that while sponsors may not be able to immediately recognise a return on their investment when they sponsor events in the theatre space, they should be open to the idea, as investing in Jamaica’s talent will be worth it in the long run. “Theatre to me, always seems like it’s not the ‘sexy one’ to look at in terms of sponsorship.
“Sponsors don’t readily invest in things they can’t see their returns on right away. But what I will say is that an investment in theatre is an investment in our people, in their talent. Talent is something worth investing in.
“It might not give returns right away, but when that talent starts growing and producing, it will be worth it,” he said.