Announcements / Apr 2nd, 2024

Announcing the 2024 Baltimore Crankie Festival Lineup

Baltimore Crankie Fest

2024 Baltimore Crankie Festival | FRI MAY 3 – SUN MAY 5 | Times Vary

Watch the world’s greatest stories unroll before your eyes! Baltimore’s beloved festival of scrolled panoramas, known as “crankies,” returns for its 10th year of fireside wonder! The festival, the largest of its kind in the country, works with artists to showcase crankies from Baltimore and beyond!

A crankie is basic in concept: it is a scroll that provides the visual narration to a story or song. Versions of the crankie have been around for hundreds of years, if not longer; their most recent iteration is directly linked to moving panoramas popular in the 19th Century. In recent years, artists have begun to embrace the intimacy of the format, creating multi-layered, immersive experiences for audiences.

Performer Bios

Elizabeth LaPrelle is a scholar and singer of Appalachian Ballads from Rural Retreat, Virginia. She built her singing style and repertoire from mentors like Ginny Hawker and Sheila Kay Adams, research into archival recordings, and family and friends. She received her undergraduate degree from the College of William and Mary with a major in Southern Appalachian Traditional Performance. In the experimental folk duo Anna & Elizabeth, she and collaborator Anna Roberts-Gevalt made 11 crankies and performed them on 3 continents. She’s also a banjo-player, and an interdisciplinary artist. She lives with her husband Brian Dolphin and their young son.

Drawing inspiration from traditional music, myths and legends, West of Roan weaves stories which reflect on and explore relationships to self, other and place. Their puppets walk, swim and fly through landscapes crafted of shadow and light, journeying in and out of the subconscious world of images and creation.  Annie Schermer and Channing Showalter returned to their roots in the Pacific Northwest after a three year period of collaboration in the mountains of Western North Carolina, where they created and performed multiple award-winning puppet shows. Their experience of life, music, place, and lineage in both regions informs their searching and soulful music and art.

Emily Schubert

Crankie Fest Co-Curator & organizer Emily Schubert is an interdisciplinary artist, maker, farmer, and forager. She hails from the borderlands of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Northern Kentucky and currently resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She earned a degree in fiber and textile art from the Maryland Institute College of Art and has worked on costumes for traveling Broadway shows and participated in puppet theater festivals and workshops in Europe, Indonesia, and the United States. She is inspired by the fantastical and the everyday and how these shape peoples’ perception of the world. Drawing from mythology, folktales, memories, and personal experience, she creates narratives and characters that aim to make some sense of our existence by giving form to our collective anxieties and desires.

The Lantern Sisters are Katherine Fahey and Dan Van Allen. Baltimore artist Katherine Fahey is a storyteller, puppeteer, and papercut artist who has been making crankies for 10 years. She has taught crankie making and has performed throughout the United States, earning her the affectionate title of “the Jane Appleseed of Crankies.” Her crankies are based on songs and tales drawn from the Inuit territories of Northern Quebec and the swamps of Louisiana to the streets of her home in Baltimore City. Performing with Katherine is puppeteer, foley artist, craftsman, and visionary artist in his own right, Dan Van Allen.

Chico Johnson is a 1-year-old French bulldog born in South Carolina May 18, 2023. Beyond his cuteness and size, Chico has the heart of a polar bear. His first moments were here in Baltimore and at Creative Alliance. When he was a puppy he sprained his arm climbing on the steps, got hit by a car, fell down the stairs, and is still a crazy fun fella. Chico will give you all his heart in one go, snores like an old man, and will nibble on you if he likes you. His birthday is in May and I think this would be the best way to bring it in. I am kolpeace, a resident artist here and his father in supporting the performance illustration.

Marty Allen is a multi-disciplinary artist, writer, performer, musician, teacher, and creative producer living in Brooklyn, New York. He is perhaps best known for making up The Sock Puppet Portraits (as Sock Puppet City), writing the related book, Sock Puppet Madness, and for performing with rock band/multimedia art collective/giant monster/sock puppet, Uncle Monsterface, though he does lots of other things including walking his dog and making occasionally great sandwiches.His most recent works include co-creating Adventure Pizza for The Object Movement Festival and La Mama Puppet Slam and writing and co-creating A Perfect Party for Trees for Trusty Sidekick Theater Company, as well as the publication of his sixth book, 50 Knots for Every Adventure (Simon & Schuster/Dog ’N Bone Books, 2023)In addition to working as a practicing artist, Marty also works as a teaching artist specializing in early childhood development, with a deep interest in neurodiverse and underserved communities. Devoted to creating experiences that are accessible and inclusive, Marty’s work is committed above all else to chasing a sense of wonder and moments of real and honest connection. Wonderful connection. To you!

Leigh Walter is a director, producer and manager based in NYC.  She is proud to be the Executive Creative Producer of Trusty Sidekick Theater Company, a TYA organization dedicated to creating bold and original theater for young people and their families.  With Trusty Sidekick, she most recently directed A Perfect Party for Trees, an outdoor promenade puppet performance made for and with neurodiverse audiences, featured in the NYTimes: “But perhaps the greatest gift this new play offers its audience is intangible: the freedom to be themselves.”  She has worked at Lincoln Center, Park Avenue Armory, The Public, Ars Nova, New York Theatre Workshop, St. Ann’s Warehouse and HERE Arts Center among a myriad of other theaters, warehouses, bars, museums, streets and parks.  This work has been focused on developing new theatre, with a verve for immersive/non-traditional productions and puppetry.  This work has also included Off-Broadway musicals, performance art, dance, opera and everything in-between. To learn more about Leigh, visit her website or better yet, find her after the show and introduce yourself. 

Marian McLaughlin is a musician, visual artist, and educator. She is a Resident Teacher at Social Studio where she enjoys working through the stages of the creative process with her students. In 2023, she was a Maryland Traditions Artist in Residence where she led a collaborative crankie project between two different schools. McLaughlin is also a Veteran Teaching Artist for Arts for Learning. She has toured extensively in the United States and the U.K., released four studio albums, and performed a NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert. McLaughlin was a Strathmore Artist-in-Residence in 2015 and led an ensemble for the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage series in 2018.

Marianne Ross is a dancer, director, puppeteer, and stilt-walker. Marianne is the Artistic Director of “Concerts in the Country,” directed “Moving Works” from 1970-1980, and has been a puppeteer with Bread and Puppet Theater for over forty years. Other company credits include The Puppet Co. and Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo, Maryland, Kids on the Block Puppets which toured schools area-wide dealing with social issues, Everyday Theater, and several dance companies. In the National Capital area Marianne has taught dance at Holton-Arms and Hawthorne schools, and currently conducts movement classes for Seniors. In addition to her many contributions to culture and to the performing arts, Marianne is a mother, a grandmother, and a great-grandmother.

Salvatore Geloso is a musician living in New Orleans, LA. Deeply inspired by the winding road and all that is carried along its endless meanderings, he has shared his experiences upon it through stories and songs.

Zach Serleth is a professional bassist and banjoist around the DC, MD, VA area who plays most of his gigs in Bluegrass Bands or Eastern European folk music groups. He started with the Highland Hill Boys, a Baltimore Bluegrass band then transitioned to the darker sound he found in Klezmer music. Studying with Margo Levert and the Klezmer Mountain Boys, Zach formed Baltimore based klezmer band, The World Fair. He later joined on with Evan Tucker’s creation, Schmuck and helped run the Baltimore Klezmer jam. Soon he was studying Django Reinhardt and began playing Slovakian Gypsy music and Gypsy Jazz with Orchestra Prazevica which you can catch monthly in DC at Bossa Bistro or Marx Cafe. His roots in Appalachia and Eastern European music helps him bring an interesting twist to traditional music and dixieland swing touching on songs from many different areas of the world.

Don’t Miss These Other Fun Crankie Activities!

Crankie Curiosities w/ Marian McLaughlin | WED APR 10, 17, & 24 | 6:30-8:30PM

Mixed media artist Marian McLaughlin guides you through the process of crafting your own multi-dimensional storytelling device with acrylic paint on fibrous Tyvek paper scrolls. Through crafting crankies, engage in visual, kinetic, and narrative concepts. And then take home a miniature crankie box of your own creation! Prompts are available, or come prepared with a simple story or song to base your crankie on. Materials are provided, no artistic experience is necessary.

Baltimore Crankie Festival: Open Crank | SUN MAY 5 | 11AM

We cordially invite you to join us for the first ever Baltimore Crankie Festival Open Crank! Perform with your peers, or sit back and take in the beautiful artistry of crankies made by artists and amateurs alike in the community!