A Festival Rolls Out Stories By Hand | Arts News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Seven Days needs your financial support!

A Festival Rolls Out Stories By Hand 

State of the Arts


After the talkies come the crankies. Say what? Yes, Montpelier's 11th Green Mountain Film Festival literally winds up this Sunday with a quaint, no-tech entertainment: the Green Mountain Crankie Festival. A primitive "theater in a box," the crankie was reportedly created by Bread and Puppet founder Peter Schumann in the late '60s as another artistic, handmade medium for the troupe's countercultural message. So named because it is cranked by hand, the crankie - perhaps inspired by Japanese scroll paintings - is simply a roll of paper with pictures that tell a story as they're unfurled across a cardboard "window." Think hand-drawn, slow-moving 16mm film and you get the idea.

Younger fans of folk legend Tom "Banjo" Azarian, who "headlines" the GMCF, may be surprised to learn he's not the only crankie maker in Vermont. But he's certainly one of few who actively perform with one, using the crankie as a visual sidekick to his old-time songs. The first-ever crankie fest features a half-dozen other crankers, including Vermont folksinger and international teacher Karen Sutherland, who will lead a how-to-make-'em workshop; Justin Lander and Rose Friedman of the Bellows Falls-based Modern Times Theatre, who claim to make crankie shows for "the street, the school, the barn, the pasture and the subway"; Schumann himself, presenting a B&P classic or two; and fellow Glover residents Howie and Stephan Cantor with an 8-foot crankie show intriguingly titled "Jesus Went to Gitmo."

Oh, and expect guest appearances from out-of-staters, too: the RPM Puppet Conspiracy from Austin, Texas (a "bunch of stinky garbage men with trashy ideas"); and Wisconsin's The Dolly Wagglers, whose lowbrow stories are reportedly unscrolled on "the dirty sheets of America."

Sounds like a good time to me.


The Green Mountain Crankie Festival takes place at the T.W. Wood Gallery in Montpelier on Sunday, March 30, with shows at 10 a.m., and 1:30, 3:30 and 6 p.m. Admission by donation. Info, see the festival website.

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

About The Author

Pamela Polston

Pamela Polston

Pamela Polston is the cofounder, coeditor and associate publisher of Seven Days. In 2015, she was inducted into the New England Newspaper Hall of Fame.


Comments are closed.

Since 2014, Seven Days has allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we’ve appreciated the suggestions and insights, the time has come to shut them down — at least temporarily.

While we champion free speech, facts are a matter of life and death during the coronavirus pandemic, and right now Seven Days is prioritizing the production of responsible journalism over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor. Or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

Latest in Arts News

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative

All content © 2021 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401
Advertising Policy  |  Contact Us
Website powered by Foundation