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Tallawah Drama Festival 2013

Osisi Abathathu winner of Best Production, Tallawah 2013

The Commuting Students bubbled to the top of the 2013 Tallawah Festival, taking home the night’s top honours with the three-hander Osisi Abathathu (an excerpt from The Escape of Three Sisters). The production copped awards for Best Production, Best Director as well as Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress.

“This was the year of the woman,” said Tallawah Chief Judge, Michael Daley. He pointed out that the four days of competition had featured several pieces with all-female casts. The strength of female driven products were in great evidence at Best of Tallawah on Sunday, November 9, 2013.
Ramone Gordon and Kalia Ellis in Maya Wilkinson's Vessel
Daley, noted however, that there could have been greater diversity in the representations. Indeed, the number of spread legs (for childbirth, rape or expression of sexual freedom) that took place in the six productions comprising Best of Tallawah underscored his point.

Osisi Abathathu was among the female centred productions. It is a moving tale of three sisters who are attempting to evade pursuers but are unable to outrun the demons they carry within. The production copped the Best Director award for Tyane Robinson, who also wrote the piece while Carlyn Telfer earned the award for Best Actress and Paula Bird snagged the award for Best Supporting Actress. The third member of the cast, Shanese Watson, earned a high commendation for her performance.
Honica Brown in Hell Got No Fury Like a Scorn Woman
Maya Wilkinson’s Vessel also mopped up several of the night’s awards. The production, a two-hander focusing on a woman whose postpartum psychosis leads to tragic results, went home with four awards including those for Best New Play and Best Set.

The Jamaica Youth Theatre once again proved to be a hotbed of talent, copping a few major awards and several high commendations. Additionally, although they lost out on the top spot, JYT got to share in the glory as Tyane Robinson, is also of their number.

Robinson also copped a Best Actor Award for his role in JYT’s Hell Got No Fury Like a Scorn Woman. Despite the play’s badly worded name which wobbles between English and Jamaican Creole, it was an engaging production which benefited from solid performances, good direction, lighting and costuming.

There were 24 productions in this year’s installation of the tertiary students drama festival. Festival coordinator Dr. Brian Heap, noted that the organizers made the deliberate decision to scale back and focus on student drama. Heap pointed out, that Tallawah provides an opportunity to experiment that is generally not available in commercial theatre where failure can be expensive.
University Dramatic Arts Society with 'Dem Gyal'
“Sometimes it can be a very important thing to fail,” Heap said, explaining that failure can be a crucial part of an artist’s development.  

Interestingly, Hell Got No Fury Like a Scorn Woman, Vessel and Osisi Abathathu are all new works. Along with these three short plays, Best of Tallawah also presented two ensemble poetry pieces which were radically different from each other. First up was the dark ‘Only the Good Die Young’ presented by Preston Hall. Later the University Dramatic Arts Society delivered the riotous ode to sketeldom ‘Dem Gyal’.

The evening also included Anancy and Fyah, a vibrant retelling of the folk tale peppered with pop references. Delivered by Michael Lewis of Taylor Hall, it was absolutely hilarious.

The 2013 Tallawah Festival took place at its home the Philip Sherlock Centre, University of the West Indies, Mona, November 5 - 10, 2013.

Full List of Winners:

Best Production - Osisi Abathathu - Commuting Studens
Best Director - Tyane Robinson - Osisi Abathathu
Best Actress - Carlyn Telfer - Osisi Abathathu
Best Actor - Tyane Robinson - Hell Got No Fury Like a Scorn Woman
Best Supporting Actress - Paula Bird - Osisi Abathathu
Best New Play - Vessel - Maya Wilkinson
Best Set - Vessel - Maya Wilkinson
Best Costumes - ‘Dem Gyal’ - University Dramatic Arts Society
Best Lighting - Hell Got No Fury Like a Scorn Woman - Jamaica Youth Theatre
Best Make-Up - ‘Only the Good Die Young’ - Preston Hall
Best Sound - ‘Only the Good Die Young’ - Preston Hall
Best Use of Music - Agnes of God - Centrestage Theatre Workshop
Best Use of Stage Properties - Vessel - Maya Wilkinson
Best Multi-Media - Vessel - Maya Wilkinson
Best Group Poetry - ‘Only the Good Die Young’ - Preston Hall
Best Male Storyteller - Anancy and Fiyah - Michael Lewis (Taylor Hall)