It has been almost a year since Chicago-based theatre troupe Manual Cinema stunned Boston with their magical performance of Ada/Ava. This multimedia masterpiece, which showcased Manual Cinema’s unique use of shadow puppetry, live-action silhouettes and overhead projections, ran for a brief yet sold out weekend in January 2018. Audiences were “blown-away” by Manual Cinema’s ability to “create a new art form” and raved about the beauty and poignancy of the show. WBUR remarked, “In the nimble hands of Manual Cinema, the story is as precise as it is poetic — and utterly open in its execution.” After the successful run last January with Ada/Ava, ArtsEmerson is thrilled to welcome back Manual Cinema and their new production, The End of TV, at the Emerson Paramount Center JAN 16 – 27, 2019.
The End of TV explores the decline of the Rust Belt in the Midwest through the relationship between an elderly white woman who is obsessed with home shopping advertisements on QVC and a young black woman, recently laid off from her job at an auto plant, who finds a new job making deliveries for Meals On Wheels. This story is told through beautiful live-action silhouettes, video feeds, overhead projects, and a five-piece band performing original songs and score. The show differs from previous Manual Cinema shows in that there is dialogue, however, none of this spoken word originates from the characters themselves. Instead, the puppeteers humorously lip-synch words from vintage TV commercials and QVC broadcasts, creating light-hearted moments throughout this bittersweet show. The End of TV premiered in June 2017 as a commission by The International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven, CT and has recently toured to Minnesota, Missouri, and California.
Since performing in Boston, Manual Cinema continued touring Ada/Ava around the United States and overseas, where they performed in Portugal, the Czech Republic, and China. Once they were back in Chicago, the company developed a number of new shows including Frankenstein, which is premiering this November at the Court Theatre. The troupe has also created short videos like Poem (I lived in the first century of the world wars) and We Real Cool, both sponsored by the Poetry Foundation. These videos are stunning animated retellings of famous poems by Muriel Rukeyser and Gwendolyn Brooks; in fact, Manual Cinema honored Gwendolyn Brooks, one of Chicago’s most beloved figures, in another original show called No Blue Memories, which utilizes silhouette puppetry as well as intricate paper puppetry.
As a master of their trade, Manual Cinema makes audiences laugh, cry, and contemplate life and love. Their shadow and silhouette puppetry, in tandem with their unbelievable overhead projections, produce one of a kind stories that have enthralled audiences all over the world. Be sure to witness the wonder of The End of TV JAN 16-27 at the Emerson Paramount Center. Tickets are on sale today!