Manual Cinema combines handmade shadow puppetry, cinematic motifs, and live sound manipulation to create immersive theatrical stories. Using overhead projectors, paper puppets, actors in silhouette, and a live band, Manual Cinema transforms the experience of attending the cinema and imbues it with liveness, ingenuity, and theatricality.
Manual Cinema was founded in 2010 by five Chicago artists with diverse backgrounds in theater, visual arts, and music. In their first two years of spectacle-making, they have created two feature-length, live-scored cinematic shadow puppet shows, Ada/Ava and Lula del Ray, a large-scale installation piece for the University of Chicago; FJORDS, a feature-length collaboration with the string quartet Chicago Q Ensemble based on the poems of Zachary Schomburg; and Meanwhile, a music video commissioned by contemporary music ensemble eighth blackbird.
Manual Cinema’s work has been performed in Chicago at the MCA, Links Hall, the Poetry Foundation, the Hideout, and the Charnel House, in addition to various bars and found spaces around the city. Nationally they have performed at the NYC Fringe Festival, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Eric Carle Museum, St. Marks NYC, and the Tank NYC. Their work has been commissioned by the Logan Square Arts Center, the University of Chicago, and eighth blackbird.