Program Books/Manual Cinema

Manual Cinema

Manual Cinema is an Emmy Award-winning performance collective, design studio, and film/video pro­duction company founded in 2010 by Drew Dir, Sarah Fornace, Ben Kauffman, Julia Miller, and Kyle Vegter. The company combines hand­made shadow puppetry, cinematic tech­niques, and innovative sound and music to create immersive stories for stage and screen. Using vintage overhead projectors, multiple screens, puppets, actors, live feed cameras, multi-channel sound design, and a live music ensemble, Manual Cinema transforms the experience of attending the cinema and imbues it with “live­ness,” ingenuity, and theatricality. The company received an Emmy Award in 2017 for The Forger, a video created for the New York Times, and was named Chicago Artists of the Year in 2018 by the Chicago Tribune.

Manual Cinema has been presented by, worked in collaboration with, or brought its work to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Under the Radar Festival (New York City); the Kimmel Center (Philadelphia); the O, Miami Poetry Festival; Arts Emerson (Boston); the Yale Rep­er­­­tory Theatre; the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; the Kennedy Center (Washington, DC); the Ace Hotel Theater (Los Angeles), La Monnaie–DeMunt (Brussels); the Noorderzon Festival (Netherlands); the Tehran International Puppet Festival (Iran); the King Abdulaziz
Cen­ter for World Culture (Saudi Arabia), the Hakaway International Arts Festival (Cairo), the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and elsewhere around the world. The company has also colla­borated with the three-time Grammy Award-winning Eighth Blackbird and Hub­bard Street Dance (Chi­cago); the New York Times and Story­Corps (New York City); Pop-Up Maga­zine (San Francisco); Nu Deco Ensemble (Miami); the New York Times best-selling author Reif Larsen; NPR’s Invisibilia; Topic magazine; the Grammy Award-winning Esperanza Spalding; Erratica (Lon­don); and the Belgian Royal Opera (Brussels).

In December 2021, Manual Cinema premiered its new adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Each show was performed live in the company’s Chicago studio in a socially distanced manner, and live-streamed to audiences at home, including on Cal Per­formances at Home (Dec 17–19, 2021). In signature Manual Cinema style, hundreds of paper pup­pets, miniatures, silhouettes, and a live original musical score combined in an imaginative re-invention of this cherished holiday classic.

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