Manual Cinema: Mementos Mori

15 — 18 Jan 2015 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, United States

Lula Del Ray. Photo: Katherine Greenleaf.
Lula Del Ray. Photo: Katherine Greenleaf.
25 NOV 2014

MCA Stage presents the premiere of Manual Cinema's Mementos Mori, a cinematic shadow puppet play. Commissioned by the MCA, this feature-length work combines overhead projectors, intricate paper puppets, and live actors to tell a cinematic story about digital culture and our relationship with death and dying. The live soundtrack is created with sound effects and an onstage chamber ensemble. The performance takes place January 15 to 18 in the Edlis Neeson Theater as part of the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival.

The plot of Mementos Mori weaves together three stories: an elderly film projectionist finds romance in the arms of a bewitching stranger; a bike messenger explores the afterlife with her iPhone; and a seven-year-old discovers her own impermanence. The experiences of these characters intersect as issues of technology and mortality are considered. The title Mementos Mori is a play on the Latin phrase that means "remember death."

Manual Cinema is a Chicago-based cinematic shadow puppetry ensemble, acclaimed for their works using handmade puppets, cinematic motifs, and live sound manipulation. Founded in 2010 by five Chicago multidisciplinary artists with eclectic backgrounds in theater, visual arts, and music, Manual Cinema creates works that transform the experience of attending the cinema, imbuing it with ingenuity and theatricality. The company has performed in Chicago at the MCA, Links Hall, the Logan Center, and the Hideout, and nationally at the New York International Fringe Festival and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, among others. Manual Cinema has also held residencies and taught at the University of Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The company works collaboratively across a visual and performance team--Drew Dir, Sarah Fornace, and Julia Miller--and a sound and music team--Ben Kauffman and Kyle Vegter.

MCA presents Manual Cinema on the opening weekend of the new Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, which was founded to establish Chicago as a center for the art of puppetry. The festival features twenty projects and celebrates contemporary puppetry with the work of local, national, and international artists. The festival runs January 16-25, 2015. More information is at chicagopuppetfest.org.