Trinidadian-American playwright, director and actress, Marjuan Canady, released her debut children’s book, Callaloo: A Jazz Folktale on November 8. The book is based on her second original play, of the same title, which featured the music of Trinidadian trumpeter Etienne Charles.
According to Canady, the idea to write a children’s book based on the play came from her discussions with audiences in Washington DC. The play ran in DC in January and New York in July.
Callaloo tells the story of a young American boy named Winston, who travels to Tobago to visit his grandmother. During the trip, Winston learns about folkloric figures such as Papa Bois and La Diablesse. Canady teamed up with illustrator Nabeeh Bilal to complete the project.
“Originally, I created this story as a play because theatre is what I know. I have studied and performed in the theatre for over ten years. But I always envisioned this as an animated story and when Nabeeh approached me about the idea, I jumped at the opportunity,” she said.
Canady said she first learned of these folkloric stories as a child. “When my mom would tell me the stories, the characters sparked my imagination. The folkloric stories are so magical and full of danger, hope, fears and dreams, all in search of reclaiming memories. This folklore is rooted in the mystery of what else exists in the world.”
Canady also pursued the project because she wanted to write a book geared specifically towards children of colour.
“I thought it was important to re-create these stories through illustration because there are so few books geared towards black and brown kids, especially of Caribbean descent. Children of all colours should know about these Caribbean folktales and appreciate how they connect to the contemporary world. I hope this book inspires Caribbean-American children and all children to take pride in their culture and where they come from as well as to think twice before they disobey their elders.”
Canady will be taking the book on a reading series in New York and DC starting in December and may also participate in a special reading in Tobago in January. The book can be ordered online.
About MarjuanMarjaun Canady is a graduate of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Fordham University Lincoln Center and New York University Tisch School of the Arts. Her one-woman play, Girls! Girls? Girls, has been featured at the United Solo Festival, The Performing Arts Marathon Festival and was performed at over fifty colleges and community centres throughout the US. She has received Matteo Ricci and Schomburg Mellon fellowships. Canady is also a youth arts educator and image activist.
For more information about book orders and the reading series, visit: www.callalootheplay.com
SOURCE: Trinidad Guardian