A Rafter of Crankies

A Rafter of Crankies

About the show

Crankies are panoramic scrolls that are “cranked” on the handles of a box that the scrolls wind through. The effect is like watching the analog ancestor of a movie, or a comic strip that combines with a song or story. Together they create a performance that is charming, and often wildly funny or strikingly haunting. Although they are often associated with Appalachian folk tradition, today’s crankies embrace cultural, musical, and artistic expressions that are contemporary and as unpredictable as the weather!

This year’s performing artists included “Rafter” founders Eric Bass and Ines Zeller Bass, and Brendan Taaffe, all with new crankies created especially for this event.

New to the event were:

Emily Schubert, from Pennsylvania, who has enriched the national crankie scene as director of the famed Baltimore Crankie Fest.

Alexandra Gorlin-Crenshaw, from Montreal, performs with hand-made fold-out books, a cousin of crankies. And to add spice to the event, she performed in Yiddish!

And Brattleboro’s own John Ungerleider, known locally as a songwriter and social justice activist, entered the crankie arena with a first-ever scroll of his Mr. Mariposa, a work about climate change, illustrated by Maddy Conley.

And why a Rafter of Crankies? Rafter is the group name for turkeys (just as fish group in schools or geese in gaggles). Just look at the ceiling of Green Mountain Orchards and you’ll see why the name fits for a group of crankies as well. And on Thanksgiving weekend, what better way to tie the rafter together than with the traditional meal and a crankie performance!

Thank you to our funders

This project is funded in part by the Center for Cultural Vibrancy.