International Storytelling Festival (Since 1999)
Storytelling is as old as mankind and is considered to be one of the most ancient arts. Storytelling celebrates the art of communication, of talking and listening, and of conveying information, whether lighthearted or profound. In Gimistory, professional storytellers come from all over the world telling stories that illuminate their heritage, stories that explore myths and legends, stories that provide laughter, drama and wonderment. Their stories engage audiences and stimulate the imagination.
Save the Date!! The Cayman Islands International Storytelling Festival, GIMISTORY is happening from 24th November – 2nd December 2023!
Each of the Grand Cayman districts, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman enjoy a FREE night of storytelling at picturesque venues of beaches under the sea grape trees, or at a park or open field under the moonlight. Local and overseas storytellers take to the stage and tell a tall tale or two while the crackle of a wood burning hints at the hot, delicious fried fish and fritters available after the stories.
- 25 November – Cayman Brac, Spot Bay Park
- 27 November – West Bay, Jefferson Beach (West Bay Public Beach)
- 28 November – East End, East End Public Beach
- 29 November – North Side, Q.E. II Botanic Park
- 30 November – Bodden Town, Coe Wood Beach
- 1 December – Savannah, Savannah/Newlands Playfield (Pedro Castle Rd.)
- 2 December – George Town, Smith’s Barcadere
All events begin at 7pm, with the gates opening at 6:30pm, with the exception of the Brac event which begins at 6pm.
GIMISTORY features a wide variety of local and international talented storytellers, who share tales of all genres that cater to the entire Caymanian community.
The festival brings over 2,500 people together from virtually every sector of Cayman’s multi-generational, multi-national community. In addition to visitors from abroad who return time and again.
Revitalizing the art of storytelling, which was the main community entertainment and means of transferring cultural mores before the advent of radio and television, through storytelling workshops in schools and district community centers and the tri-island events of the festival.
By its very nature, the festival celebrates the arts of communication, of talking and listening, and of conveying information, whether lighthearted or profound.
During past years storytellers have done visits to schools, making special presentations to students in each of the three Cayman Islands.
To Be Announced
Meet the tellers
Rita Estevanovich was born and raised in Grand Cayman, where she has been recognised nationally for her work as an actor and cultural animateur, and internationally as a performer. Currently residing in London where she works as a professional actor, Rita is honoured to return home to share tales from near and far with local audiences of all ages.
Her continued involvement with Gimistory dates back to 2004, following Hurricane Ivan. She recalls it as one of the most magical events she has ever experienced, and is passionate about the unifying power of storytelling, and its ability to give the community hope in the face of pain and loss. She accredits much of her artistic development to CNCF and Dr. Henry Muttoo. For Gimistory this year, Rita will also be leading a series of youth acting workshops at the Harquail Theatre on 21 22 and 23 November, where admission is completely free.
Nasaria Suckoo Chollette
Nasaria Suckoo Chollette is a celebrated multidisciplinary artist and Caymanian storytelling legend, who has been involved with Gimistory for over 20 years.
Throughout her career, she has always sought to understand her journey through artistic expression. Nasaria’s work is intuitive, passionate, and bold. Nasaria has published two books, “Storytelling Rundown” and “All the Joy in the World”, and has had her poetry published locally and internationally. In her work, Nasaria closely explores themes of culture and social issues, with noted focus on women’s experiences. She does so with vivid colours and texture and with aim to be accessible to all sectors of her community. Her determination to deepen her practice stems from the desire to incite dialogue around these themes in Cayman and throughout the Diaspora. Outside of storytelling, Nasaria is also a celebrated and awarded visual artist, having been represented in many exhibitions both nationally and internationally over the last 25 years.
Lesley-Ann Bernard Ricketts
Lesley-Ann Bernard is a professional actress and teacher of Drama. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of the West Indies and The Edna Manley School of Drama.
She has been performing on stage for over 25 years both in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, and is looking forward to participating in Gimistory 2023. Outside of Gimistory, Leslie-Ann is also an active creative partner of CNCF, where she recently starred in the first ever iteration of “Wha Happening Comedy Show” this year, and previously worked as a drama instructor in 2022 for CNCF’s after school workshop series.
Hylton S. Grace is an author, poet, and storyteller, who has participated in Gimistory on several occasions. Originally from Jamaica, but now calling the Cayman Islands home, he credits his love for storytelling to being born in a rural village that had three great components; strong African retentions, a laid-back setting conducive to the imagination, and access to elders who enthusiastically shared their stories and adventures. As a professional, he is trained in clinical social work and life coaching and works as a counselor at Her Majesty Cayman Islands Prison Service. He is also a husband and a father, who enjoys beach outings and movies with his family.
Hylton has also been active in other areas of CNCF’s programming, and is currently partnering with CNCF on behalf of the local poetry group “Floetry” to facilitate monthly open mic events at our Studio Theatre. Stay tuned for announcements on the next installment!
Stuart Wilson is a storyteller who shares his art through the medium of music. Inspired largely by his passion for Caymanian heritage, his songs are a unique blend of Reggae, Blues, and Jazz, which he refers to as, ‘Reggae Renaissance Music’. In his career, the guitarist and songwriter has played all over the world, having opened for iconic acts such as John Legend, Air Supply, Damian Marley, Beres Hammond, Michael Bolton, Roberta Flack, Sean Paul, Morgan Heritage, Third World and many more.
Outside of Gimistory, Stuart is a frequent collaborator with CNCF, and will be presenting “Oh Cayman Islands” at the Harquail Theatre on Saturday, 18 November at 6pm in partnership with CNCF. This music concert will be an ode to Cayman’s culture and history, and will feature several other talented local artists – tickets are available here: https://www.ticketsplus.ky/en/event/oh-cayman-islands
King Navassa is a passionate performer who aims simply to bring joy to people’s lives. Originating from the Cayman Islands, King lives in Manchester, where he maintains a committed mission to promote Caymanian culture and heritage. He is the first recipient of the Making Waves Award, and was recently given funding from CNCF for his upcoming musical projects as part of our expanded Grants for the Arts programme.
King is very involved with Cayman Connection and currently hosts the Celebrating Caymanians Overseas podcast, which profiles Caymanians living throughout the UK. King can be found spending his time singing centre stage in jazz and blues clubs, and hosting events throughout Manchester. Locally, his voice is still played regularly on Cayman’s radio stations with songs such as Whine Go Down and We Need Love, and he is the former director of the Cayman Islands’ Folk Singers where he produced the vocals for their debut album in 2018.
Martin Keely grew up in a theatrical family, first appearing on stage when he was five, with many stage appearances during the next 25 years. He was involved in starting several theatre companies in his native Canada and uses his acting skills in his teaching. Outside of storytelling, Martin has been a Wetlander since the late 1980s, when he founded and ran a wetlands education and conservation organization in British Columbia and Northern Washington State, to protect freshwater wetlands and estuaries. On moving to the Brac full time in 1998, he morphed into a Mangroveman, adapting his temperate wetlands programs for use in tropical climes. His love of conservation and storytelling is bridged through his Marvellous Mangroves curriculum-based teaching guide, which has been part of the Cayman primary school curriculum – sponsored by CUC – since 2001. Marvelous Mangroves has now been adapted and translated for use in 17 countries in eight languages
Camille Angel utilizes her storytelling mostly through the medium of poetry. She writes poetry that blends Caymanian heritage with colourful metaphors, juxtaposing themes of cultural resilience and counter-narratives to the colonial legacies and over-development referenced in her texts. A youth worker by trade, Angel is a former CARICOM Youth Ambassador and a 2022 Rock Retreat participant for emerging children’s book authors. Angel is currently compiling a debut book of poetry, and another of children’s literature. This will be her second year participating in Gimistory.
As a Caymanian that has previously lived overseas, Giselle made great efforts to learn and be involved in programmes that promote Cayman and Caribbean culture. Giselle’s interest in arts and culture of the Cayman Islands led her to CNCF’s inaugural Young at Arts programme, and the Cayman National Dance Company (“Dance Unlimited”). These led her to represent the Cayman Islands in CARIFESTA in 2000 and 2003, and 2019, as well as the 2005 Aberdeen Youth Festival in Scotland for Dance Cayman.
Furthermore, she has acted in CNCF’s Rundown from 2009 to 2021, and most recently in the inaugural “Wha Happening Comedy Show” earlier in 2023. In previous years she was cast in several other CNCF productions such as Pirate Princess, Moon Over Rainbow Shawl, Downside SideUp, De Honeymoon Over, Fat Chance, and Gimistory, to name a few. Giselle is a passionate thespian, and when not in a show’s cast she has volunteered behind the scenes as stage manager, stage hand, and assisted with light and sound for other productions.
Daphne Orrett (“Aunt Sookie”)
In 1976, at the invitation of young Pastor Alson Ebanks, Daphne Orrett and her three daughters first performed at a Youth for Christ Rally, held at The Town Hall in George Town, to overwhelmingly positive reviews. Shortly thereafter, “Uncle Zeekiel” (aka: Carlyle Ebanks) joined the Team; and this was soon followed by Claudia Welds and “Choppie” Delapenha. They became known as “Sookie, Zeekiel ‘n Dem”, and the team soon found their comedy routines in great demand.
Having produced several video and audio tapes, as well as their many performances at schools and other venues, the team has endeavored to use comedy to help in the preservation of Cayman’s unique culture and heritage. For Gimistory this year, you can find Aunt Sookie and friends at West Bay’s district event on 27 November from 7pm!
Evana Martinez is an avid local performer of the arts, with a Master’s Degree in Human Resources. Throughout her artistic career, she has graced both local and international stages, though states that nothing excites her more than performing for her Cayman audience.
Evana first started performing at the age of five through dancing, poems, choir, and acting. She has also been received CNCF accolades for her poetry skills in both writing and speech. She has acted in the productions “These Caymanian Women”, “Bernarda Alba” (directed by fellow Caymanian artist Nasaria Suckoo Chollette), “Fat Chance” and many of CNCF’s productions including “Rundown” and, most recently, “Wha Happening”. Evana has participated in Gimistory previously and is excited to be back on stage sharing her original pieces with the community.
Through the magic of storytelling over the years, Reshma developed a deep appreciation for the rich cultural traditions of her homeland, Trinidad and Tobago, which reflect the diversity of its people and their ancestral heritage from Africa and India and beyond. The local stories were not only a great teacher but a means of connecting to the world during her travels, exploring perspectives and nourishing the heart and mind.
A lover of the arts, Reshma has dabbled in various musical and theatrical pursuits over the years, most recently the production of “Beef, No Chicken” at the Prospect Playhouse. A huge fan of the beloved Gimistory, this will be her first year getting involved as a storyteller. To hone her skills, she has been performing to a tough audience of two little nephews who constantly remind her that the power of imagination knows no bounds.
Clifton Hunter High School Students
Some of the amazing students at Clifton Hunter High School will be gracing the Gimistory stage this year, to perform an excerpt from the play “For Honor We Fight!”. Students Abryl Miller, Sarah Medina, Jeane Richards, Keidy McLaughlin, and Clarice Warnock are all currently studying Theatre Arts in their final year, who tell the story of battling grief and relationships in the midst of slavery. Led by teachers Deborah Holgate and Nadine Thomas-Anderson, the students will be performing in East End and North Side Gimistory district events on 28 and 29 November, respectively.
Making her grand return to the Gimistory stage for 2023, Dr. Amina Blackwood Meeks hails from Jamaica, where she currently works as a lecturer in Caribbean Culture and Identity at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. Dr. Blackwood Meeks is also a celebrated award-winning writer, actress, and storyteller, and is also the founder/artistic director of multiple storytelling festivals and conferences in Jamaica. In her home country, she successfully petitioned for the proclamation of November 20 as National Storytelling Day, which falls right before the beginning of Gimistory’s festivities.
Dr. Blackwood-Meeks weaves tales from the loom of her knowledge of the Caribbean, her life as teacher-communication specialist, political scientist, social and cultural policy researcher/analyst-turned farmer. Her stories cover a range of issues affecting gender, the environment, children and the direction of human development. On an international stage, she has also performed and conducted workshops at storytelling festivals and a host of speaking engagements across the Caribbean, Africa, Europe and North America. She has been involved with Gimistory for many years, and the CNCF team welcomes her back for another exciting year of performances.
Phillip “Black Sage” Murray
Also returning to Cayman for Gimistory 2023, Phillip “Black Sage” Murray is a celebrated Trinidadian writer, performer, and Calypso artist that has been involved with many previous iterations of Gimistory. A Dimanche Gras Finalist, three times Extempo monarch, and Skinner Park semifinalist, Murray has performed at a wide array of international stages, including Canada, the USA, Trinidad, St. Lucia, Barbados, Guyana, Costa Rica, Scotland, India, and the Cayman Islands.
Also an accomplished actor, Murray has performed in a series of acclaimed plays, including “Ten to One”, “The Probe”, “The Roaring Seventies”, and “Sing D Chorus”. Earlier this year he was recognized as an Extemporama Honouree, and is delighted to be performing to the Caymanian community once again.