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Petrina Williams Wins Jamaica Monologue Slam

Petrina Williams performs at the Jamaica Monologue Slam

With an impromptu yet awesome performance of Joan Andrea Hutchinson’s ‘Dat White Witch Name Henny’ Petrina Williams walked away with bragging rights, and her purse slightly fattened at the end of the first Jamaica Monologue Slam. 

Indeed, with the exception of William’s performance, which brought some well needed hilarity to the night, the inaugural slam event, had not provided much to write home about from the six contestants who came to showcase their theatrical skills.

(l-r) Andre Newell and the three judges Russell Sams, Michelle Lonsdale-Smith and Peter AbrikianWilliams, was among the cadre hailing from the Jamaica Youth Theatre, of which two other contestants, Akeem Mignott and Samantha-Rae McLean were also members. Two of the other contestants, Kimberlyn Miller and Chantal Cogle came from the Eagles Christian Theatre Troupe while the final contestant of the night, Michelle Bennett was an independent.

Jamaica Monologue Slam put on by the Toronto Monologue Slam. The event, comprising two rounds of performances was judged by Russell Sams, Michelle Lonsdale-Smith and Peter Abrikian.

The evening, hosted by Noami Cowan, was kicked off with a hearty helping of overacting by Miller with the piece ‘Daddy’s Love’ which tackles incest then leap frogs into the cleansing and fortifying power of God. Miller has raw talent, but as the judges pointed out, had a penchant for overdoing it.Kimberlyn Miller, one of the night's finalists delivers 'Daddy's Love'

The night’s other actors were in the main faced with the same challenge, with the exception of McLean, who delivered a well-tempered performance but required more emotional honesty.

And then came Williams, who had been at the venue to support her troupe members and then at the last minute decided to try her hand at the event.

“You are f**king brilliant!” declared Lonsdale-Smith at the end of the monologue, which is a fabulous feat in malapropism as a guide gives a tour of the Rose Hall Great House. “I have nothing to say to you.”

Samantha-Rae McLean or Jamaica Youth Theatre with her untitled monologueNot surprisingly, despite the improvements in the performances of the other two finalists (McLean and Miller) Williams went on to win the event when in the second round she delivered a rendition of the monologue where this time she was asked to be ‘uptown’. 

"It was very impromptu for me, because I didn't come here knowing what the competition was about, but thought I have nothing to lose,” Williams told the audience.

Kingston born, Andre Newell, one of the founders of the Toronto Slam event, explained that the event had arrived on the island’s shores in large part because Lonsdale-Smith, a respected drama teacher of Jamaican and Trinidadian heritage, had long wanted to bring it here. She came with 12 students from the Lonsdale-Smith Studio where there were engaged in a two week long masterclass in Runaway Bay. There activities would culminate in a workshop at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, which also formed a part of the night’s prize.

The final performance of the night featured the students from the Lonsdale-Smith Studio who presented a theatrical montage of the pieces they had been workshopping, allowing the originally independent pieces to intermingle on the stage. While it stretched a little too long, it was an interesting piece.

Two of the students in the Lonsdale-Smith WorkshopNewell explained that the Toronto edition not only gives actors an opportunity to hone their craft but also to get in front of casting directors and agents. He noted that he wants to bring that possibility to Jamaica as well and hopes in the long run to establish a monthly event in Kingston, to showcase and develop local talent.

"We're doing a documentary on the entire process which will hopefully bring greater attention to jamaica and the talent here," Newell explained.

The Jamaica Monologue Slam took place at Redbones the Blues Cafe on Friday, January 24, 2014.