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GAMPA wins top prize in Drama Festival

By Elena Scialtiel

The gala night of the 66th Gibraltar International Drama Festival saw the Gibraltar Academy of Music and Performing Arts scooping six trophies, including the top prize of £ 1,000 for Best Play.

Their production, Signed, Me, won the top accolade, as well as Best Original Script (Christian Santos and Hannah Mifsud), Best Director (Christian Santos), Best Actor (Christian Santos as ‘Adam’), Best Youth Actress (Luna Lee as ‘young teen Amy’) and Best Supporting Youth Actor (Ethan Benitez as ‘young Adam’).

Adjudicator Beverley Jenkins described the Festival as the “best she’s been to”, featuring some “cracking drama”, and praised the wide participation of young actors.

She bestowed the Adjudicator’s Award to Julian Felice for his delivery in A Series of Public Apologies, a modern-day satirical comedy by John Donnelly.

The Best Set Presentation went to The Magazine Studio Theatre for Hannah Mifsud’s play, Men Like That, one of the five original works performed at the Festival.

The Magazine Studio Theatre’s Nyree Robinson (as ‘Grace’) and Tanya Santini (as ‘Cheryl’) also won the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress awards respectively for their roles in this play.

The Best Technical Presentation was awarded to In Bloom Productions for their play Burnout, an original play by Maisy Beth Crunden, who also directed and starred in it.

Best Supporting Actor went to John Charles Guy for his role as Henry Irving in The Actor’s Nightmare, a comedy by Christopher Durang, presented by Theatre Makers and Rock Theatre, directed by Angela Jenkins assisted by Anthony Loddo.

Best Youth Actor was awarded to Nicholas Raggio, for his role as ‘C’ in Natives, a drama by Glenn Waldron presented by the Westside & Bayside Drama Group, directed by Natalie Bonavia.

Best Supporting Youth Actress was jointly awarded to Maisie Wilson, Emma Saccone and Julia Laguea for their roles as ‘Three Witches’ in One Last Chance, an original comedy written by Hannah Mifsud and directed by Tanya Santini.

The adjudicator had judged her seven hundredth play during this very festival and, in her speech, she mentioned how she had ever only ever awarded more than 90 points to three plays in all her career – and the GAMPA team scored 91.

As advice to all thespians, she encouraged them to learn the value of the dramatic pause, and use it effectively and wisely.

“It is so important in public speaking,” she said.

“It’s a powerful tool, a skill actually, to know how long the pause should last.”

So she suggested to dedicate a workshop to this theatrical element, and not to be in a hurry to deliver one’s lines.

The Minister for Culture, Dr John Cortes, thanked Medway Little Theatre for returning to the Rock every year to enter the Drama Festival; the parents and grandparents of all young actors, who taxi them to and from their rehearsal venues, thus supporting their budding acting careers and local drama in general; and last, but not least, Seamus Byrne and the Gibraltar Culture Services team for promoting this “artistic renaissance”.

He wished more adult actors participated in the Drama Festival alongside youth, so they could share their experience and be role models, as well as learn from each other.

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