‘Banners and Cranks’ Features Traditional Asian and European Puppetry Storytelling at the Ballard

Amy Trompetter performing the Red Wing Black Bird Theater cranky Reading the Meter, based on a story by Robert Nichols. Photo by Meg Dolan.

The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry will present the grand opening of its new exhibition Banners and Cranks: Paintings and Scrolls in Performance on Thursday, February 23, 2017 at 5:00 p.m.

Banners and Cranks: Paintings and Scrolls in Performance will feature a global array of traditional and contemporary cantastorias and crankies—forms of sung picture story-telling that trace their origins to 6th-century India. Paintings mounted on sticks, flipped over and revealed, or unfurled on scrolls and moved by means of a crank, these performing objects were precursors to the popular puppet traditions of many countries. Today, even as advanced electronic technology becomes more and more integral to popular media and culture, a new dynamic engagement with the simple mechanical cranky and cantastoria has blossomed among contemporary artists, activists, puppeteers and musicians, who infuse this old form with diverse new content and bold variations in technique. Curated by puppeteer Clare Dolan, the director of Vermont’s Museum of Everyday Life, Banners and Cranks features a multitude of picture performance works from new young puppet theater companies, activist educators, folk musicians, visual artists, playwrights, and students, as well as historical examples of the form from Europe and Asia. The opening events will feature a tour led by Clare Dolan, and live performances of crankies and cantastorias by the curator, as well as by Great Small Works theater company.

As part of the Ballard’s Spring Puppet Forum Series, on Wednesday, April 12 at 7:00 p.m. Banners and Cranks curator Clare Dolan, and Puerto-Rico-based puppeteer, author, and visual artist Dave Buchen talk about the old-and-new international painting and performance medium they have nurtured since the first Banners and Cranks festival in 2010.

In connection with the exhibition, a Banners and Cranks Mini-Festival will present cranky and cantastoria performances created by puppeteers, musicians, and artists from throughout the Northeast on Friday and Saturday, April 14-15. Friday evening performances, starting at 7 p.m. in the Ballard Institute Theater, will feature productions geared for adult audiences; Saturday afternoon performances, starting at 2 p.m., are geared for family audiences.  Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Ballard Institute, by calling 860.486.8580, or online at http://bimp.ticketleap.com/.