The Garfield Center for the Performing Arts will host a variety of offerings on Saturday, May 28 during the Chestertown Tea Party Festival: a portrayal of Phyllis Wheatley, the first published African American poet, Crankies, a fascinating form of old fashioned storytelling art form, and a musical performance by Stephen Christoff on a variety of colonial instruments.
The Phyllis Wheatley portrayal, performed by Janice Curtis Greene, begins at 11 AM. Born around 1753 in Gambia, Africa, Wheatley was captured by slave traders and brought to America in 1761. Upon arrival, she was sold to the Wheatley family in Boston, Massachusetts. Her first name Phillis was derived from the ship that brought her to America, “the Phillis.”
The Wheatley family educated her and within sixteen months of her arrival in America she could read the Bible, Greek and Latin classics, and British literature. She also studied astronomy and geography. Although she supported the patriots during the American Revolution, Wheatley’s opposition to slavery heightened. She wrote several letters to ministers and others on liberty and freedom. Wheatley died in December 1784, due to complications from childbirth. In addition to making an important contribution to American literature, Wheatley’s literary and artistic talents helped show that African Americans were equally capable, creative, intelligent human beings who benefited from an education. In part, this helped the cause of the abolition movement.
Back by popular demand, with performances at 11:45 AM and again at 1:00 PM, is Katherine Fahey and her Crankie show. This is an old fashioned story telling art form using a long illustrated scroll wound on two spools – a moving panorama accompanied by live music. Fahey’s work is based on folk tales as far reaching as the southern swamps of Louisiana to the northern reaches of Inuit Quebec. Others are personal stories from her childhood in Virginia and the streets of her longtime home of Baltimore Accompanying her will be puppeteer, and foley artist, Dan Van Allen, and musician Mark Dykeman.
Virtuoso musician Stephen Christoff, a perennial Tea Party Festival favorite, performs at 1:00 PM. He will captivate families with the jaws harp, banjo, guitar, mandolin, hand whistle, the musical saw, and even the bottles. The Colonial times were filled with music and Christoff explores the fun.
For a full schedule of events and more information, visit https://www.chestertownteaparty.org/