An Evening of Crankies, songs and storytelling


PUTNEY >> The weekend of Dec. 4 through 5 will bring together a dynamic collection of artists to share their work, song, and magical cranking devices in the celebration of the story telling medium which has recently become so popular across New England—Eric and Ines Zeller Bass of Sandglass Theater, Coni Richards, Brendan Taaffe, Dejah Leger, Anna Patton with Annie Winker, and Claire Dolan will share the mystique and low-tech charm of pairing song and story with rolling pictures.

With the serenade of ballads, stories, comic songs and originally composed music, this exciting team of artists will present an assortment of beautifully handcrafted crankies for your delight and entertainment. Crankies are scrolling illustrations, wound inside a wooden box and then hand-cranked so that the images move across a viewing screen. Once called 'moving panoramas', crankies were as close as it got to films in the early 19th century.

Recently crankies have made a fresh and invigorated appearance throughout the nation, appearing in circuses, music events and yes ... puppet theaters. On this special evening Brendan Taaffe will premier two stunning cut paper crankies: "Leatherwing Bat" and "The Man of Double-Deed." Brendan Taaffe is a musician and crankie artist based in Brattleboro. A multi-instrumentalist on guitar, banjo, fiddle, and mbira, he performs with The Waxwing Four, The New Line, and The Bright Wings Chorus and travels around the world teaching singing workshops.

Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, Dejah L├ęger began making Crankies four years ago when she was asked to play a bilingual festival in Canada. Her first Crankie show was such a success that she was invited back for the next two years, and has since played Folklife Festival. Festival du Bois, the first Children's Festival in Seattle, and helped found the Seattle Crankie Festival, and she has been featured in two documentaries. Her intricately-cut Crankies are in both English and French, drawing from both American ballads and French-Canadian traditional songs. Dejah is a graphic artist for Hearth Music in Seattle Wash, which she co-founded with her husband Devon Leger. She also plays traditional Acadian music with her family band, La Famille Leger. This is her first visit to the Northeast.

Musician/Composer/Crankie Creator Anna Patton arrived at crankie making through the love of combining music with visual storytelling. She jumps at the chance to be involved in theatrical and multimedia collaborations whenever possible amidst her touring schedule with the dance band Elixir and other groups. Anna composed the score and recorded the soundtrack for Spybird Theater's production "The Eye of the Storm," which debuted at Sandglass Theater's International Festival of Puppet Theater in 2012. Anna's crankie, "Feed" is a rumination on connection, loneliness, and social media. It's a collaborative work including art by several guest artists (including co-performer Annie Winker), and a song by Ben Patton.

Clare Dolan is a painter, director, and performer of cantastoria, toy theater, outdoor puppetry, and stilt dancing, while simultaneously living a secret double life as a nurse in her small Vermont town. She's a veteran of the Bread and Puppet Theater, co-curator of Banners and Cranks (an annual festival of cantastoria performance), and Founder/Chief Operating Philosopher of The Museum of Everyday Life (

Coni Richards, board member of Sandglass Theater will be presenting her first ever crankie, "Crankie Cat". Finally Co-directors of Sandglass Theater, Eric and Ines Zeller Bass will present Babylon, a cinemascope crankie inspired by a sacred harp song and the journey of a caterpillar.

Performances are Friday, Dec. 4 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 5 at 7:30 p.m, and Sunday Dec. 6 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $16 general and $13 for students and seniors, payable by cash or check at the door. Tickets are available online at Getting tickets in advance is highly encouraged as seating is limited. Sandglass Theater is and accessible venue located in the heart of Putney, For more information, please call 802-387-4051 or visit


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