A Chicago-based performance collective, design studio, and film/video production company, MANUAL CINEMA is celebrating its Tenth Anniversary with a month-long celebration of film. Four free shows screen virtually between July 27, 2020, and August 22, 2020, beginning at 11 a.m. (PST) and 12 p.m. (CST). Each week’s show will be posted on Monday at noon, where it will be available for free 24/7 on-demand viewing until the following Monday at noon, when it will be replaced with the next week’s show. The birthday party culminates in a live tele-FUN-draiser on Saturday, August 22 at 7 p.m. (PST) and 8 p.m. (CST). MANUAL CINEMA’s one-night-only variety show will feature new 15-minute work created and performed live by their five co-artistic directors featuring shadow puppetry, toy theater, cinematic techniques, and innovative sound and music.
The MANUEL CINEMA virtual spectacular first presents LULA DEL RAY from July 27 to August 3, 2020. Set in the mid-century American Southwest and inspired by the music of Hank Williams, Roy Orbison, and Patsy Cline, LULA DEL RAY is a coming-of-age story developed at the University of Chicago. It includes puppetry, actors in silhouette, and live music – and is almost without dialog, a profound tale of a lonely adolescent girl who becomes obsessed with soulful country music. It was filmed in 2016 at Raritan Valley Community College in North Branch, New Jersey.
THE END OF TV runs from August 3 to August 10, 2020. It is set in a post-industrial Rust Belt city in the 1990s and told through a collection of original 70’s R&B-inspired art pop songs. It is the story of Flo, an elderly white woman who was once a supervisor at a local auto plant, and Louise, a young black woman laid off from her job at that same local auto plant when it closes for good. When the two meet, an unlikely relationship develops as they try to work around incessant commercials and TV programs, the constant background of their lives. THE END OF TV was filmed in 2018 at the Chopin Theatre in Chicago.
NO BLUE MEMORIES: THE LIFE OF GWENDOLYN BROOKS runs from August 10 to August 17, 2020. This is the true story of Gwendolyn Brooks, one of Chicago’s icons – a poet laureate, Pulitzer Prize winner, and educator and mentor. The film features intricate paper puppetry, live actors working in shadow, and an original score. NO BLUE MEMORIES is an exploration of Brooks’ Chicago, as well as a tale of how Brooks navigated identity, craft, and politics over the course of her career. It was filmed in 2017 at the Harold Washington Library in Chicago.
FRANKENSTEIN runs from August 18 to August 22, 2020. This innovative approach to Mary Shelley’s classic tale is interwoven with her biography, a thrilling gothic story about the horrors possible when science clashes with morality and ego. FRANKENSTEIN received the 2018 Jim Henson Workshop Grant and captured five Jeff Award nominations, including new work, sound design, original music, puppet design, and projection design. It was filmed in 2019 at McEwan Hall at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland.