Creative Theater: Manual Cinema

Written by Syed Ali

Last week at the Krannert Center for Performing Arts, Manual Cinema¬†performed a theatrical rendering of No Blue Memories – The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks. The performance involved a projector, puppets, and a live orchestra/band that brought various aspects together to create a vibrant display of Gwendolyn Brooks’ life.

The performance involved the use of shadows and primarily puppets translated on to a projector screen. The use of puppets and actual people added a layer of realism; the sudden movements and dialogue synchronized well and created a unique atmosphere. It made the storytelling more tense and formal. It wasn’t a movie, but rather a live performance with elements of cinema. It made me feel closer to Gwendolyn Brooks’ vision, but it also made the emotional impact greater with the use of live music and actors.

The music added even more uniqueness to the performance. Live singing and background music made the transitions smoother and the projector screen more alive. I enjoyed the smooth, jazzy music and the occasional drums.  The singing was also colorful as it brought even more life to the screen. The music allowed for more freedom in how the performance could be done and at what time the actors could do certain things.

Overall, the dynamic performance was extremely creative and unique. It allowed for a closer feel as it drew me into the life of Gwendolyn Brooks. The puppets, colors and music worked together well to create a memorable cinematic experience.

Photos by Syed Ali


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