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Our Story Begins, Cape May storytelling program

By On Deck Staff

On Saturday, April 25, Cape May’s Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts (MAC) will launch a new storytelling program called “Our Story Begins…”
This program will be offered for free and will use trained storytellers to bring alive 300 years of Cape May history, from the pirates of the 17th century to the auto races and rum-runners of the 20th century. The program is modeled after the highly successful “Once Upon a Nation” series in Philadelphia’s Independence National Park.
With research provided by the MAC staff, Sandra Mackenzie Lloyd wrote the scripts for 20 stories in the course of 2008.
Then, she and theatrical director Geoffrey Berwind auditioned actors for Cape May’s storytelling program in January.
From these auditions 11 talented storytellers were hired for the program and extensively trained in the following months. Some of the actors hired include Cape May area locals like John Alvarez, Parker Smith, Joe Fulginiti, Ray Crewe and Frank and Ginger Killino.
The storytellers will be outfitted as early 20th century newsboys and will tell highly interactive stories with a lot of public participation. Civil War hero Colonel Henry Sawyer who built the Chalfonte Hotel, the great fire of 1878, the threat of a German invasion during World War II, and Cape May’s Lighthouse keepers are among the topics covered in the program’s stories.
The program will gradually expand from a weekend focus during the springtime to a seven-day-a-week schedule with the start of the summer season in mid-June.
Storytellers will be located at three strategic spots in Cape May including the Washington Street Mall at Jackson Street, the Beachfront Promenade at Gurney Street and the Welcome Center, as well as two of Cape May’s popular historic landmarks, the Emlen Physick Estate and the Cape May Lighthouse.
On Saturday, April 25, the first Saturday of Cape May’s 10-day Spring Festival, the storytelling program will be offered for free at the Washington Street Mall and the Beachfront Promenade from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. as well as on the grounds of the Emlen Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St., from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Spring Festival Crafts Show will also be held on the grounds of the Emlen Physick Estate on Saturday, April 25 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“Our Story Begins…” is funded by a grant from the New Jersey Cultural Trust. For information about MAC’s year-round schedule of tours, festivals, and special events, call 609-884-5404 or 800-275-4278, or visit MAC’s Web site at www.capemaymac.org.

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