It’s time for some tall tales

The wonderful possibilities of language and performance come together once more with the much-awaited Gimistory. 

The free week of storytelling starts on Saturday, Nov. 30, at Jefferson’s Beach in West Bay and features a host of Caribbean performers and storytellers providing entertainment, thoughtful commentary and a whole lot of culture. Best of all, it’s free. 

The festival, say organizers the Cayman National Cultural Foundation, is acclaimed by many who have attended storytelling festivals in North America, the U.K. and elsewhere, as being among the best in the world. The event, which typically spans seven to 10 days, brings together virtually every sector of Cayman’s multi-generational, multi-national community and has developed a following of visitors from abroad who return time and again. By its very nature, the festival celebrates the art of communication, of talking and listening, and of conveying information, whether lighthearted or profound. Audiences fill the picturesque venues – which include beaches and parks – to enjoy this annual festival which has become the unofficial start of Cayman’s winter season. During the day, storytellers visit schools, making special presentations to students.  

This year’s Gimistory will feature over a dozen performers from all over the world. Familiar faces such as Ken Corsbie, Amina Blackwood-Meeks, David Bereaux and Friends and Blacksage are crowd favorites, always leaving audiences wanting more Caribbean tales, sweet kaiso music and of course, lively extempo. The husband and wife storytelling duo, The Storycrafters, will also return to share their humourous renditions of classic stories. The festival welcomes three new visiting tellers this year: Michael Khan from Guyana, Alton Chung from Hawaii and Mike McCarthy from Ireland.

Among the local tellers featured are Nasaria Suckoo-Chollette and Lady Rabia, both children’s book authors, poets and artists; Rundown’s Priscilla Pouchie, and Auntie “V,” keeping the fable of Anansi alive. After an initial appearance at the Brac Gimistory in 2012, Dexter Bodden (“The Goldfield” song) joins Gimistory for the full circuit this year. 

Each night, the shows conclude with sampling of local cuisine from the annual district culinary competition. Now in its fifth year, the Fry Fish, Frittas and Swanky Competition will again highlight district teams who will be competing for honors of Best Fry Fish, Best Swanky (a Cayman-style citrus beverage) and Best Frittas. Bodden Town took all three titles last year, with the Cayman Brac team coming in a close second. 

 

Nasaria Suckoo Chollette   

Nasaria writes both standard English and dialect pieces for the Cayman Islands Children’s Festival of the Arts. She has won the Cayman National Cultural Foundation’s annual Cayfest Literary Competition several consecutive years and has already published two children’s books, Storytelling Rundown; a collection of Caymanian short stories and All the Joy in the World. Nasaria has been called on to write and perform pieces for many community events; The Miss Cayman Competition, Miss Teen Competition, Women’s Month Celebrations, Camana Bay events, and Human Rights’ events. She continues to be inspired by the journey of life. 

 

Lady Rabia Abdul-Hakim   

A prolific Caymanian author and illustrator, entrepreneur and poet, Lady Rabia is best known as the creator of Cayman’s first children’s media property, Kaa Kaa & Tokyo. Lady Rabia is the CEO of ContessaBlack Entertainment, which develops signature characters for the Caribbean and Middle East markets. She is a member of the prominent Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) and is also the patron of the Big Draw Cayman Islands, which is part of the global Campaign for Drawing. 

 

Auntie V   

Aka Virginia Foster, is a local storyteller who has participated in Gimistory since its inception. She specializes in Anansi stories – a magical spider-man – and has been writing and presenting stories of Anansi In Cayman, to the delight of the young and the old. 

 

David Bereaux & Friends  

Bereaux and other cast members have stayed together performing and presenting the excellence of the vintage calypsos of the decades spanning the 1920s to the 1970s using theatrical elements relying heavily on gestures and facial expression to bring meaning to their music and delight to audiences around the world. The wit, humour, intonations and inflections of the original artistes form the heart of the band’s presentations.  

 

Amina Blackwood-Meeks  

Amina is one of the more prominent leading storytellers from Jamaica who performs worldwide. Her stories, always entertaining, involve a political bent. Well versed in politics, Amina strives to entertain her audience while relating direct messages about politics and culture of the Caribbean and across the world. 

 

Alton Takiyama-Chung  

Storyteller and performer, Alton Takiyama-Chung grew up with the stories, superstitions, and magic of the Hawaiian Islands. This combined with his Japanese and Korean roots, gives him a unique perspective to tell cultural tales and personal stories with a deep sense of reverence and authenticity. 

 

Ken Corsbie  

In the 1980s Corsbie left Guyana for Barbados and spent two years working as the regional coordinator for the Theatre Information Exchange which is an association made up of dramatists throughout the islands. He then went on to spend more than a decade and a half working throughout the Caribbean as a solo entertainer, educator, journalist, storyteller, poetry performer, stand-up comedian, theater designer and director. He directed and designed theater in several of the islands, and narrated a 13-part documentary series on Caribbean life for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.  

 

The Storycrafters  

Barry Marshall and Jeri Burns have been working together as The Storycrafters since 1991, and have been storytellers for even longer than that. In addition to being nationally renowned storytellers, they are award-winning radio show hosts, recording artists, writers, and the parents of a fiddle-playing, tap dancing classical singer who accompanies them whenever his busy schedule allows. They perform and teach their art form in schools, libraries, and other venues all over the US and the British Isles. They have been featured performers at storytelling and folk festivals nationally and internationally.  

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Storyteller Amina Blackwood-Meeks and drummer Louis McWilliams.

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The popular storytelling duo, The Storycrafters, return for this year’s Gimistory.
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