Film ID:
YFA 1303



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This is a film made as part of the A4E Contemporary Video Collection that documents the dance, lives, and motivations of the Craven Flagcrackers, an unusual Morris team. The film includes footage of the dance and music group, showing them in performance as well as interviews with the members.

Title: ‘The Flagcrackers Of Craven’

The film opens with the Craven Flagcrackers performing a dance. They are dressed in extravagant multi-coloured costumes and hats and also have painted black faces. Dick Taylor, the founder and former Squire, is interviewed and he explains that the dancers perform the border Morris, one of the six traditions within Morris dancing. Within border Morris, there are only eleven notations recorded, but of these are sufficient to make up a full dance. The dancers have to recreate how they think it might have been. The Flagcrackers are performing in a street with a multi-instrumental musical band, including accordions, fiddles and saxophones. One of their members, Pauline Barnett, states that it starts when they put their make-up on. She explains that the anonymity (that the make-up provides), allows her to do it; otherwise she would be too self-conscious. The members, mainly women, apply the blackened face paint. Some of the members of the group are interviewed and explain why they enjoy performing, especially being able to dress up as they please.

Dick Taylor explains the rationale for the band, the music that they play, and its relation to the dancing. The band is playing in front of a crowd. He also states that the people who did the dances they perform were people who worked outside. These were people who were unable to get work in winter, and as a result, they danced and earned a living from collections. He goes on to explain the way in which the hats are decorated, and the film shows the highly decorated hats of the different members.

In the hall, the band members rehears the dances and the music. One of the members gives a demonstration of how to play a bodhran, another explains that the dances were used as celebrations. He also explains that they wrote a dance in memory of an ex-member, a cobbler they knew, Frank Baldwin. The dance is performed in a village square. The band relaxes after the end of a day performing, sitting outside by their vans and larking about. Members explain how it is good fun after a stressful week at work. They then have a sing-song in a pub, following by a public performance near a canal during which members talk about why they enjoy it so much.

End credits: ‘With thanks to The Flagcrackers Of Craven’ ‘Filmed and Edited by Chris Watson Acorn Video (BfD) Ltd’ ‘‘The Flagcrackers Of Craven is part of the A4E Contemporary Video Collection’