Detroit Cantastoria Fest

Detroit Cantastoria Fest is an annual festival featuring local artists and activists who collaborate on a group of short shows in the “cantastoria” and “cranky” traditions. Cantastoria and cranky shows are a wonderful medium for storytelling. These art forms are thousands of years old and still alive today in Detroit! Join us and tell your story!

“Cantastoria” is the Italian word for an ancient form of street theater involving a narrator singing or telling a story while gesturing to elaborate painted banners or scrolls. “Cranky” shows are a similar form using a painted scroll which is displayed using a “crank.”

The Detroit Cantastoria Fest comes to life through a series of free workshops hosted by members of Flying Cardboard Theatre. Workshops are for participants who want to learn about this ancient art form and participate in making or performing cantastoria and cranky shows.

After working together to build shows, we create a beautiful, raucous and thought provoking weekend of performances featuring a diverse group of new and classic cantastoria and cranky pieces. Flying Cardboard Theater and other artists from the Cantastoria Festival perform work throughout the year. Contact us if you would like a cantastoria show at your event.

Rorschach Cranky
Detroit Cantastoria Fest 2021
Poke your Pointer Finger Out Polka

More about Cantastoria

Cantastoria is a precursor to modern puppet theater, this practice originated in 6th Century India and spread East and West, with many different variations in style and subject matter.

Recently there has been a revival of interest in Cantastoria among puppeteers, artists, and activists in the West, who find that this ancient form has startlingly modern qualities and can easily be infused with fresh content. The use of the cranky-a sister to the cantastoria-has also lately grown popular among folk musicians and artists looking for new ways to perform their songs and display their artwork in a performance context.

This is a living and breathing folk performance practice that has its own particular place alongside the technology and media of the 21st century.

More information on cantastoria and crankies: