Established in 1998, Gimistory International Storytelling Festival is presented by the Cayman National Cultural Foundation as a free event for the community and is made possible by the generous support of local businesses. This year, Gimistory runs from Nov. 25-Dec. 2, visiting local districts and Cayman Brac.
The festival brings over 2,500 people together from virtually every sector of Cayman’s multi-generational, multi-national community, in addition to returning visitors and storytellers from around the Caribbean.
Storytelling is as old as mankind and considered one of the most ancient of arts. It celebrates the art of communication, of talking and listening, and of conveying information, whether lighthearted or profound, through laughter, drama and wonderment. For more than 30 years, the foundation has carried out its mission of stimulating, facilitating and preserving Caymanian cultural and artistic expression.
Every year at Gimistory, audiences enjoy a night of storytelling at picturesque venues on beaches under the sea grape trees, or at a park or open field under the moonlight. Tellers take to the stage and tell a tall tale or two while the crackle of wood burning hints at the hot, delicious fried fish and fritters made available by the best fish fry cooks competing in the Gimistory District Fish Fry Competition.
This year, Gimistory will launch the 7-day-long festival with a young storytellers night named “Butta-Fa-Fish,” featuring youth performers from the Young at Arts Theatre Intensive Programme and other talented and aspiring junior performers. The youth tellers include Aiden Watler (14), Zachary Watler (8), Jada Bodden (14), Jade Christian (11), Gabriella Watson (14) and Aimee Mckenzie (10).
Those who attend Butta-Fa-Fish will enjoy a free sample of Cayman-style fried fish and fritters, and in true Gimistory fashion, all attendees can enjoy a complimentary drink of Swanky. Butta-Fa-Fish will also feature the Cool Kids of Culture Competition, where anyone who comes dressed in an outfit or costume inspired by their heritage will be entered to win awesome prizes.
“As Gimistory enters its 18th year, CNCF will put the spotlight on local tellers,” says Henry Muttoo, artistic director of the CNCF. “[The festival] will complete 18 seasons in November. The tradition of having overseas tellers share their stories with local audiences is important and will continue, but we believe that local tellers must begin to take full responsibility for the future of the festival. We have tried to create this focus before, but it has never worked as well as we anticipated.
“This year, local tellers will be ‘carrying’ the festival on their shoulders, so to speak, and Gimistory audiences are in for a treat. The festival will open with a youth show at Dart Park and will include a number of local youth, including Aiden Watler who impressed in ‘Rundown 2017’.”
The festival welcomes back acclaimed international storytellers and entertainers and will also be headlined by local storytellers such as Virginia “Aunty V” Foster, Mirabelle D’Cunha and Martin Keeley (Cayman Brac). There will also be “Rundown Comedy Revue” performers such as Matt Brown, Rita Estevanovich, Jevaughnie Ebanks, Lesley Ann Bernard, Giselle Webb, and George Jones, as well as festival newcomers Nicole Durrant and Kingsley Donald Jr.
- Nov. 25: Butta-Fa-Fish – Dart Park
- Nov. 27: North Side – Kaibo Public Beach
- Nov. 28: Bodden Town – Nurse Josie’s Senior Home
- Nov. 29: East End – Heritage Field
- Nov. 30: Cayman Brac – Agriculture Grounds
- Dec. 1: West Bay – Public Beach
- Dec. 2: Duppy Story Night – Smith Barcadere
Gimistory School Tour
During the festival, the storytellers also perform at various local schools in the daytime providing students with the opportunity to interact and engage with the tellers. Local and international tellers visit select private and public schools on the islands. This year, the tellers will visit the following schools: First Baptist, Savannah Primary, East End Primary, Hope Academy, Cayman Prep and High School, Prospect Primary, Edna M. Moyle Primary, Bodden Town Primary, Clifton Hunter High School, Montessori School, Layman E. Scott Sr. High School and West End Primary.
A number of the international storytellers that have become favorites of Gimistory audiences are returning this year. Philip Murray, also known as Black Sage, is a calypsonian renowned as master of Extempo singing. He is a three-time national Extempo champion.
The Storycrafters – Barry Marshall and Jeri Burns – have been working together since 1991, and have been storytellers for even longer than that. They have been featured performers and have taught their art form in schools, libraries, and other venues all over the U.S. and internationally in the Caribbean and the British Isles.
Ken Corsbie is a Guyanese-born, multifaceted entertainer who has been performing for the past 55 years. He is a Caribbean storyteller, stand-up comedian, poet and dramatist, and has worked as a radio announcer/producer, television documentary presenter and arts journalist. Corsbie’s writing and performances tell of personal experiences with both humor and social perceptions as his stories are both nostalgic and of the present.
Amina Blackwood Meeks is Jamaican born and considers herself a Caribbean national and bona fide citizen of the world. She is a writer, director, performer, and custodian of the oral tradition, as well as lecturer, researcher and farmer. She is widely acknowledged for her instrumental contribution to the recent renaissance of the art form of traditional Caribbean storytelling.
For more information about Gimistory, visit the website at www.artscayman.org/gimistory.