Ananse Sound Splash ‘Tell It for Haiti’

Jamaica Gleaner - - ENTERTAINMENT - Mar­cia Rowe Gleaner Writer en­ter­tain­ment@glean­erjm.com

IT WAS a gala even­ing of sto­ry­telling at Ananse Sound Splash 2016, An in­ter­na­tional sto­ry­telling fes­ti­val and con­fer­ence.

The even­ing’s theme was Tell It for Haiti. The per­form­ers bear­ing folk and con­tem­po­rary tales, catchy jin­gles and rhythms came from far and near to re­in­force a cul­tural tra­di­tion that, some might say, has lost its edge to tech­nol­ogy. But from the spell­bound look and the at times laugh-out-loud re­sponses from the mixed-age au­di­ence, it was clear that sto­ry­telling still has its place in Ja­maica.

Among those in at­ten­dance was Dr Carolyn Cooper. She shared her views on the event with The Gleaner, say­ing, “I think sto­ry­telling is a won­der­ful art form. And it so good to see that Amina has pulled to­gether peo­ple from across dif­fer­ent cul­tures to cel­e­brate this won­der­ful craft.”

Myrtha De­sulme` of the Ja­maican Haitian so­ci­ety, in ad­dress­ing the au­di­ence, voiced her ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the fes­ti­val or­gan­is­ers to em­bark on a ven­ture to sup­port her na­tive coun­try. She said the role Haiti played in history de­fined the cul­ture of the re­gion. Un­for­tu­nately, she said, the sto­ries of Haiti are sup­pressed by the dou­ble-edged sword of tech­nol­ogy in­stead high­light­ing the na­tion’s re­al­ity TV Pres­i­dent.

The even­ing, how­ever, be­gan with a wel­come from Ananse Sound Splash di­rec­tor Amina Black­wood Meeks. She told the in­ti­mate gath­er­ing at the Lit­tle, Lit­tle The­atre that as a group of sto­ry­tellers, they have grown into a nice fam­ily. She also ac­knowl­edged and thanked all for their sup­port in help­ing Haiti.

Her fit­tingly ti­tled story, One Hand Cyaan Clap, came af­ter the in­ter­mis­sion. In an al­mosst scripted-like tim­ing, she started the song, even­tu­ally get­ting the

au­di­ence to join her in singing. Sat­is­fied, she com­menced the pa­tri­otic Ananse story, en­cour­ag­ing au­di­ence par­tic­i­pa­tion through­out.

TAK­ING THE SPOT­LIGHT

But it was the US-based Denise Valen­tine who got the sto­ry­telling feast started. Against the back­drop of a ve­ran­dah set­ting, with her col­leagues seated on stools on and off the ve­ran­dah – on the steps and on the ground – the award­win­ning sto­ry­teller be­gan her act. It was a story on Ananse and Tiger’s Soup, but ended up ex­plain­ing why mon­keys live in trees.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Ein­tou Springer was next. She com­menced with the tra­di­tional call and re­sponse as­so­ci­ated with her coun­try. Hav­ing es­tab­lished that she was there to tell a story, she went to the heart of the theme, ‘Tell it for Haiti’, by read­ing some of the Ja­maican slave Book­man’s fa­mous lines to mu­sic while pre­sent­ing the case for the Haitians. She asked, “What you go­ing to do about Haiti?”

Michael Kerins, the first of the United King­dom (UK) pair, fol­lowed. De­spite say­ing he was not go­ing to tell a story about politi­cians, he ended up do­ing just that. Work­ing ev­ery level of the set, he had the au­di­ence crack­ing up about a poor politi­cian’s plight af­ter he died.

Prior to Ja­maica’s Yam­ina Clarke tak­ing the spot­light to tell of Banga’s grand­mother’s state of alarm at en­coun­ter­ing tech­nol­ogy, an­other Ja­maican, Roy Rayon, per­formed. The high-en­ergy vo­cal­ist had the au­di­ence singing to some of his pop­u­lar songs.

South Africa’s Nomsa, UK’s Jan Blake and the USA’s Story Crafters were just as en­gag­ing and en­ter­tain­ing as their coun­ter­parts. Nomsa’s vil­lage tale spoke of free­dom to be who you are, and Blake’s Ghana­ian story im­plores the au­di­ence to lis­ten care­fully and take heed.

And so the clos­ing of the fifth in­stal­ment of the fes­ti­val was left up to the Story Crafters. Be­fore telling their story to the beat of a drum, they vol­un­tar­ily told the au­di­ence, “No we did not vote for him” (re­fer­ring to US Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump). They then de­liv­ered a fine per­for­mance, end­ing the third of the four-day fes­ti­val on a high note.

Michael Kerins Roy Rayon From left: No­masa, Ein­tou Springer, Jan Blake and Denise Valen­tine.

PHO­TOS BY MAR­CIA ROWE

A sec­tion of the au­di­ence re­acts to a story be­ing told.

Yam­ina Clarke

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