CHICAGO – Manual Cinema has announced a three-week summer run of The End of TV, July 19- August 5 at the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division, in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood.
The End of TV – an art pop song cycle with live visuals in post-industrial Rust Belt America – is a multimedia, theatrical meditation on late 20th century advertising, TV culture and the pre-internet American imagination, about two women who become unlikely friends as one approaches the end of her life, while the other is about to reinvent a new one.
A critical and box office hit when it debuted last summer at The International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven, CT, Manual Cinema’s summer run at Chopin marks the Chicago premiere of The End of TV.
The End of TV has one preview, Thursday, July 19 at 7 p.m. Press opening is Friday, July 20 at 7 p.m. Performances continue through August 5: Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m. Run time is 70 minutes. Tickets are $30; $20 for students and seniors. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at manualcinema.com/cal.
Manual Cinema was founded in 2010 by Drew Dir, Sarah Fornace, Ben Kauffman, Julia Miller, and Kyle Vegter, all close collaborators on The End of TV. Manual Cinema has turned heads in Chicago ever since, combining handmade shadow puppetry, cinematic techniques, and innovative sound and music to create immersive visual 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.
More about The End of TV
The End of TV premiered in June, 2017 at the The International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven, CT, and was met with substantial critical acclaim:
“The End of TV’s artistry is awesome. Its impact is profound, unique, indescribable.”- Christopher Arnott, Hartford Courant
”a fascinating theatergoing experience blending live music, old TV video clips and shadow puppetry” – E. Kyle Minor, New Haven Register
“the audience gets to experience…a moment of live artistic creation, playing out on the stage in front of them, with little to hide and lots to show” – Thomas Breen, New Haven Independent
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, The End of TV explores the quest to find meaning amongst the increasingly constant barrage of commercial images and advertising white-noise. Two sides of the American Dream — its technicolor promise as delivered through TV ads, and its failure, witnessed in the dark reality of industrial decline — are staged in cinematic shadow puppetry and lo-fi live video feeds with flat paper renderings of commercial products. The show is driven by a sweeping chamber art pop song cycle performed live by a seven-piece band.
The End of TV depicts the rise and fall of the American rust belt through the stories of Flo and Louise, both residents of a fictional Midwestern city. Flo is an elderly white woman, once a supervisor at the thriving local auto plant. Now succumbing to dementia, the memories of her life are tangled with television commercials and the “call now” demands of the QVC home shopping network. Louise, a young black woman laid off from her job when the same local auto plant closes, meets Flo when she takes a job as a Meals-on-Wheels driver. An unlikely relationship grows as Flo approaches the end of her life and Louise prepares for the invention of a new one. Their story is intercut with commercials and TV programs, the constant background of their environment.
The End of TV is a Manual Cinema production. Credits are: screenplay by Kyle Vegter and Ben Kauffman; direction and storyboards by Julia Miller; adapted for the screen by Lizi Breit, Drew Dir, Sarah Fornace, Julia Miller, Ben Kauffman and Kyle Vegter; music by Ben Kauffman and Kyle Vegter; sound design by Kyle Vegter; puppet design by Lizi Breit; associate puppet designer and storyboard artist Drew Dir; assistant director Sarah Fornace; costumes by Mieka van der Ploeg; lighting design by Claire Chrzan; lighting associate Shelbi Arndt; masks by Julia Miller; stage manager Shelby Glasgow; production manager Mike Usrey; puppet build interns Zofia Lu Ya Zhang and Kathryn Ann Shivak.
The cast is Kara Davidson (Flo/puppeteer), Aneisa Hicks (Louise/puppeteer), Jeffrey Paschal (ensemble/ puppeteer), Vanessa Valliere (ensemble/puppeteer), Shalynn Brown aka RED (drums), Maren Celest (vocals, live sound FX, live video mixing), Deidre Huckabay (flutes, vocals), Ben Kauffman (vocals, guitar, keyboard), Lia Kohl (cello, vocals), Marques Toliver (vocals, violin) and Kyle Vegter (bass).
The End of TV was co-commissioned by The International Festival of Arts & Ideas, New Haven, CT, and made possible in part with funding by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Theater Project, with lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
More About Manual Cinema
“this Chicago troupe is conjuring phantasms to die for…”-Ben Brantley, The New York Times
Manual Cinema was founded in 2010 by Drew Dir, Sarah Fornace, Ben Kauffman, Julia Miller, and Kyle Vegter. To date the company has created seven original feature length live cinematic shadow puppet shows (Lula Del Ray, ADA/ AVA, Mementos Mori, My Soul’s Shadow, The Magic City, No Blue Memories and The End of TV); a live cinematic contemporary dance show created for family audiences in collaboration with Hubbard Street Dance and the choreographer Robyn Mineko Williams (Mariko’s Magical Mix); an original site-specific installations (La Celestina); an original adaptation of Hansel & Gretel created for the Belgian Royal Opera; music videos for Sony Masterworks, Gabriel Kahane, three time GRAMMY Award-winning eighth blackbird, and New York Times Best Selling author Reif Larson; a live non-fiction piece for Pop-Up Magazine; a self-produced short film (CHICAGOLAND); a museum exhibit created in collaboration with the Chicago History Museum (The Secret Lives of Objects); a collection of cinematic shorts in collaboration with poet Zachary Schomburg and string quartet Chicago Q Ensemble (FJORDS); and live cinematic puppet adaptations of StoryCorps stories (Show & Tell).
Manual Cinema has been presented by, worked in collaboration with, or brought its work to The Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC), Under the Radar Festival (NYC), The Tehran International Puppet Festival (Iran), La Monnaie-De Munt (Brussels), BAM (NYC), Underbelly (UK), Adelaide Festival (AU), The Kennedy Center (DC), The Kimmel Center (Philadelphia), the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Noorderzon Festival (Netherlands), The O, Miami Poetry Festival, Davies Symphony Hall (SF), The Ace Hotel Theater (LA), Handmade Worlds Puppet Festival (Minneapolis), The Screenwriters’ Colony in Nantucket, The Detroit Institute of Art, The Future of Storytelling Conference (NYC), the NYC Fringe Festival, The Poetry Foundation (Chicago), the Chicago International Music and Movies Festival, the Puppeteers of America: Puppet Festival (R)evolution, and elsewhere around the world.
Manual Cinema was ensemble-in-residence at the University of Chicago in the Theater and Performance Studies program in the fall of 2012, where they taught as adjunct faculty. In 2013 Manual Cinema held residencies and taught workshops at the School of the Art Institute (Chicago), The Future of Storytelling Conference (NYC), RCAH at Michigan State University, and Puppeteers of America: Puppet Festival (R)evolution (Swarthmore, PA), Southern Illinois University, and the Chicago Parks District. In Spring 2016 Manual Cinema held workshops at Yale University as visiting lecturers in the theater department.
In Fall 2016, they contributed visuals, music, and sound design for an immersive adaptation of Peter Pan with producer Randy Weiner (Sleep No More, The Donkey Show, Queen of the Night) which premiered in Beijing in December 2016. In February 2017, Manual Cinema premiered The Magic City, a new show for children and their families, adapted from a novel by Edith Nesbit, and the inaugural production at the new Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Station. That was followed in September, 2017 by No Blue Memories, about the life and work of poet Gwendolyn Brooks, commissioned by the Poetry Foundation and based on a screenplay by Eve Ewing and Nathaniel Marshall, presented at the Harold Washington Library, and remounted last March in partnership with the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival and the Poetry Foundation. The company also debuted in Australia, France and Germany in 2017 and returned to the Edinburgh Fringe with Lula del Ray.
Currently, Manual Cinema is touring its production ADA/AVA in Holland. Following its summer run of The End of TV, Manual Cinema will present its world premiere production of Frankenstein at Court Theatre in Hyde Park, November 1-December 2, 2018, as part of Court Theatre’s 2018-19 season.
For more, visit manualcinema.com, follow the company on Facebook at facebook.com/manualcinema, on Instagram at instagram.com/manual_cinema and on Twitter @ManualCinema.