Red Sky At Night, put on each year by the Cayman National Cultural Foundation, is a wonderful feast of Cayman’s culture and its heart of never-ceasing creativity, expressed through visual arts, music, drama, dance, and food. Culture is not something extra: it is everything that makes up a country. It is Cayman’s D.N.A. No people could have survived long on these three little rocks in the Caribbean without embracing everything they could find around them, and making it into something wonderful. It is happening today too, and Red Sky is a great, rich, melting pot of ideas and expressions of individual, national and regional identity.
It is like a great Caribbean street-market, where flavors and scents mingle in the air; not just foods but flavours of style, of soul, of spirit: lights, and melody and magic of half-remembered dreams come to life before your very eyes. Inside the Harkquail Theatre there was poetry from Cayman’s great poets such as Leonard Dilbert and Lorna Reid, and Hylton Grace. Soul messages bubbling to the surface; their energy now disturbing, now enchanting, now reaching out to feed the secret longings of the inner-you.
On the Moon Stage outside, made to look like the Cayman of yesterday could be felt Cayman’s pulse: Pan N Riddim, Bonafide and the Parade of Nations got the party going. Erica Assai brought past and present together with her wonderful, soulful singing. Mas Azucar brought some spicy Latin/Caribbean flavor to the mix, before Swanky Kitchen Band brought everyone dancing and clapping with their upbeat ska-style medley of praise songs, Caribbean blues, and other offerings which do what kitchen music does best: take melodies and rhythms from all around the world, just like the seafarer’s did, and make them Cayman’s own.
On the main stage inside the theatre was yet another culture feast, as dancers and singers and musicians kept the audience entertained and enchanted. There were the Philippines Dancers, the Radiance Dance Studio, Dreamchasers, Cayman Islands National Dance Company and Cayman Islands Folk Singers. Quincy Brown was there too, performing some funny skits taken from this year’s Rundown. On the little Studio stage, around the back of the theatre were some fine performances, including an original play written by Kristy Halliday and performed by the Proud Thespian Theatre Company, called Risk Assessment, where three young women discuss issues surrounding female empowerment.
But let’s not forget all the stalls and stands filled with artists and entrepreneurs selling their paintings ornaments and ornaments. Junior Achievement, and their programme of getting young people to start off real businesses, was well-represented. One company, Tropico, was selling coconut shells which had been made into beautiful jewelry-boxes. Another company, called Caps Off, were selling all kinds of artwork made from recycled bottle-caps.
Artist Dubadah Baldeau had some beautiful paintings, full of vivid colours: “I’ve been painting for almost 20 years and I get inspired by everything that happens during the day, and I like to have uplifting messages in my paintings, sometimes spiritual, and sometimes emotional and I try to incorporate themes of unity, peace and fellowship and connecting the past to the present,” she said.