Some of Cayman’s favourite performers will return to beaches and parks on all three islands this November and December to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the very popular Cayman Islands International Storytelling Festival, Gimistory. After a year’s hiatus, the events will take place from 29 November until 7 December 2019, helping to usher in the Christmas holiday season by reminding attendees of some of the simpler things in life such as sitting in Granny’s backyard listening to stories. Gimistory is a free event presented by the Cayman National Cultural Foundation (CNCF) which brings together over 2,500 people from virtually every sector of Cayman’s multi-generational and multi-national community, in addition to visitors from abroad, who return time and again.
Scheduled to appear this year is storyteller Amina Blackwood-Meeks from Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago Extempo performer Philip Murray aka Black Sage and calypso band David Bereaux & Friends, The Storycrafters from the US and local storytellers Matt Brown, Quincy Brown and Virginia Foster. More names will be confirmed closer to the event.
Past Gimistory audiences will be familiar with some of this year’s international storyteller lineup, who have been regaling Festival attendees with stories and music for years.
Amina Blackwood Meeks describes herself as a “Jamaican-born, Caribbean national, bonafide Citizen of the World”. She is a writer, director, performer, and custodian of the oral tradition as well as a lecturer-researcher-farmer, widely acknowledged for her instrumental contribution to the recent renaissance of the art-form of traditional Caribbean storytelling. A teller of traditional and contemporary tales, her deep, rich, dramatic and deliberate voice brings stories from the heads of the ancestors, connecting ancient wit and wisdom with modern needs. (Source: http://aminablackwoodmeeks.com/index.php)
David Bereaux is a Vintage Calypso Artiste who began his professional performing career in 1991 in the calypso musical play entitled “Sing the Chorus.” Since then, he has done numerous theatrical productions before his career as a Vintage Calypso Singer took off in 1995. The David Bereaux and Friends Vintage Calypso Ensemble is now a well-established Vintage Calypso Band doing performances all over the Caribbean. David himself has toured numerous times across North America and Europe.
Black Sage, a title holder on the Trinindad & Tobago carnival Extempo stage, is also a regular Gimistory performer. Extempo is a lyrically improvised form of calypso in which performers take turns at ad-libbing in song on a theme randomly chosen by their audience. They often engage in a humourous “war of words” with other calypsonians adept at the artform. This type of storytelling is always a hit with Gimistory attendees.
Barry Marshall and Jeri Burns, PhD have been working together as The Storycrafters since 1991. They are the 2018 recipients of the National Storytelling Network's "Circle of Excellence" Award. The Storycrafters have produced twelve award-winning CD recordings. Their 2018 book, "Storytwisting", published by Parkhurst Brothers Publishers, was the winner of the 2019 'Storytelling World' Award.
In addition to their work as performers, Jeri and Barry are healing storytellers at the Stamford CT Hospital psychiatric unit and were adjunct college faculty at Southern CT State University. They perform and teach their art form in schools, libraries, and other venues all over the US and internationally in the Caribbean and the British Isles. They have been featured performers at storytelling and folk festivals nationally and internationally.
Jeri and Barry believe in the time-tested wisdom of traditional stories and share that wisdom with today’s audiences. They strive to honour world cultures by telling the old stories in respectful ways, often integrating the musical instruments, songs or dances indigenous to that region.
Caymanian Matt Brown is a gifted public speaker and talented performer. He utilises his degree in Professional Recording Arts and Social Studies to write and perform his own music, but is equally gifted on stage, receiving accolades for his work in Gimistory and Rundown. In 2017, he was chosen to represent the Cayman Islands at CARIFESTA 13 in Barbados, acting in the lead role of the drama, “Playground” by Frank McField.
He developed his own media company and brand, Geezum TV, which has produced an animated children’s show, Bobo & Teedee, a comedy sketch variety show which is now carried by Tempo networks and is seen in over five million households internationally.
Brown is excited about the Festival’s return. “Gimistory is coming back with all the audience's favourites! It’s really several shows in one. Your eyes and ears will be glued to the stage. No holding back this time. I’m bringing out some new ideas for you and I can’t wait!”
Born on Cayman Brac, Quincy Brown started singing solos in church at age six and performing Louise Bennett pieces at age 12 on the Harquail Theatre stage for National Children’s Festival of the Arts. He has won many awards in the performing arts over the years in theatre, drama, speech and singing. In 2017 he marked his 25th anniversary on stage. A CARIMAC trained radio broadcaster, he has worked for Radio Cayman, Vibe 98.9FM and Rooster 101.9FM as an announcer, DJ and News Reporter. This year will be Quincy's "COME BACK" to the Rundown Production after seven years of absence. He is a Cultural Tourism Ambassador at The Owen Roberts International Airport and hosts his own show on the internet called "Brac Caribe Gardens." He is often invited into schools as a Storyteller sharing Caymanian stories and Caymanian folksongs with students. His voice can be heard on many commercials on radio and he's often asked to be The Master of Ceremonies for various shows.
Better known as “Auntie V” at CNCF’s annual Gimistory Festival and on “Caymanian Stories” aired on Radio Cayman on Saturday mornings, local storyteller Virginia Foster’s other creative outlets include ceramic art, fashion designing, conducting storytelling workshops, and mounting culture and heritage exhibits of her many private collections in schools and other venues. Ms. Foster received an Emerging Pioneer Certificate at the Heroes Day Award Ceremony in January 2014 and is a 2012 recipient of the CNCF Gold Star for Creativity in the Arts.
“Cayman’s audiences look forward to the entertainment CNCF has been bringing to their doorsteps every year, as we tour through the districts with stories and music to kick off the holiday season,” said Marcia Muttoo, CNCF Managing Director. “The purpose of the Festival is to provide family entertainment for locals and visitors in a relaxed setting; pass on the tradition of storytelling; build the local population of storytellers; encourage reading, writing and performing; share a variety of stories (and stories through music) from Cayman and the world; celebrate local food culture and encourage and celebrate community involvement in arts and culture. We look forward to getting back on the road and engaging with the community.”
Dates for Gimistory 2019
• Friday, 29 November – Agriculture Grounds, Cayman Brac
• Monday, 2 December – Gerald Smith Park, North Side
• Tuesday, 3 December – Coe-Wood Beach, Bodden Town
• Wednesday, 4 December – East End Public Beach, East End
• Thursday, 5 December – Little Cayman Beach Resort, Little Cayman
• Friday, 6 December – Jefferson Beach, West Bay
• Saturday, 7 December – Smith Barcadere, George Town
All shows begin at 7:00pm. Fried fish and fritters will be on sale.
For more information about Gimistory call 949.5477 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.