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 five-piece band.
The End of TV depicts the promise and decline 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 who was 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 QVC. 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 premiered in June, 2017 as a commission by The International Festival of Arts and Ideas, New Haven, CT.
A digital program for the July 2018 Chopin Theater run can be found here.
Screenplay by: Kyle Vegter and Ben Kauffman Direction and Storyboards by: Julia VanArsdale Miller Adapted for the screen by: Lizi Breit, Drew Dir, Sarah Fornace, JuliaVanArsdale Miller, Ben Kauffman and Kyle Vegter Music by: Ben Kauffman and Kyle Vegter Sound Design by: Kyle Vegter Puppet Designer: Lizi Breit Associate Puppet Designer and Story Board Artist: Drew Dir Assistant Director: Sarah Fornace Costumes by: Mieka van der Ploeg Lighting Design by: Claire Chrzan Masks by: Julia VanArsdale Miller Stage Manager: Shelby Glasgow Production Manager: Mike Usrey Puppet build interns: Zofia Lu Ya Zhang and Kathryn Ann Shivak
Kara Davidson (Flo/Puppeteer) Aneisa Hicks (Louise/Puppeteer) Jeffry Paschal (Ensemble/Puppeteer) Vanessa Valliere (Ensemble/Puppeteer) 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)
“Puppets, green screens: How did Manual Cinema become the toughest ticket in Wicker Park?” Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune The End of TV, August 2018
“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 June 2017
When Death takes an unexpected holiday, an elderly film projectionist finds a new lease on life; a ghost explores the afterlife with her iPhone; and a seven-year-old girl discovers her own mortality. In Manual Cinema’s most ambitious show to date, a cast of six puppeteers use hundreds of paper puppets, seven overhead projectors, two cameras, and three screens to create a live “movie” in front of the audience. Accompanied by four musicians and live sound effects, the result is a rich mosaic of cinematic storytelling all performed live with puppets. Mementos Mori is a lively, beguiling meditation on death and dying.
Mementos Mori was written by Manual Cinema Artistic Directors: Drew Dir, Sarah Fornace, Julia VanArsdale Miller, Kyle Vegter and Ben Kauffman Director: Julia VanArsdale Miller Puppet Designer: Drew Dir Associate Puppet Designer: Lizi Breit Score by: Kyle Vegter Sound Design by: Kyle Vegter Costume Designer: Mieka van der Ploeg Choreographer: Sarah Fornace Mask Design: Julia VanArsdale Miller Stage Manager and Live Video Editor: Mariana Green Company Manager: Shelby Glasgow Sound Engineer: Mike Usrey
CAST Puppeteers: Lizi Breit (Laura), Linsey Falls (Mel), Diane Maire (Anna Francesca), Sara Sawicki (Lady), Shay Turnage (Marie) Musicians: Deidre Huckabay (Flute, Vocals), Michael Hilger (Synthesizer, Guitar, Vocals) , Alex Ellsworth (Cello), Maren Celest (Vocals) Live SFX: Maren Celest
Mementos Mori was developed in part through the MCA Stage New Works Initiative, the University of Chicago Theatre and Performance Studies Summer, Inc. Residency, the National Museum of Health and Medicine Chicago, and the Almanack Farms Arts Colony. Mementos Mori was funded in part by a 2015 Project Grant from The Jim Henson Foundation.
La Celestina is a site-specific performance-installation piece, created in collaboration with UK based Erratica and composer Matt Rogers, and commissioned by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Through projected shadow puppetry and multi-channel sound sculpture, Celestina brings the museum’s early sixteenth-century Vélez Blanco patio to life, retelling the story of the celebrated, contemporaneous Spanish novel La Celestina, among the marble statues and behind the shuttered windows of the castle courtyard.
CREDITS Created by ERRATICA
Written and Directed by Patrick Eakin Young
Composed by Matt Rogers, with some additional arrangement by Victoria Couper and James Halliday
Video Design and Shadow Puppetry by Manual Cinema
Puppet Design by Lizi Breit, Drew Dir and Julia Miller
La Celestina was on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from March 20-29, 2015.
La Celestina Trailer
MARIKO'S MAGICAL MIX
It's the not-too-distant future, and the tedium of everyday life is making Mariko restless -- until one day when she discovers a crate in her attic, filled with vinyl records that her mother collected. Armed only with a pair of headphones, Mariko is suddenly transported to a vibrant world of music and shadow. Far from the monotony of home, she encounters new friends, navigates inscrutable machines, and evades capture by strange creatures, allowing her to build the inner strength to confront her own demons and discover the extraordinary rhythms of her "ordinary" life.
Created in collaboration with Manual Cinema // Co-commissioned by the John F. Kennedy Center and Hubbard Street 2, premiered September 2015
Choreography and original concept by Robyn Mineko Williams
Music Direction and Sound Design by Kyle Vegter
Puppetry and Projection Concept by Sarah Fonace and Julia Miller
Puppetry and Projection Design by Lizi Breit, Drew Dir, Sarah Fornace, and Julia Miller
Music Direction and Sound Design by Kyle Vegter
Music by Kyle Vegter, Kevin O’Donnell, BNL ANML, Potions, THIN HYMNS, Julie Byrne, Chandeliers (Chris Kalis, Scott McGaughey, & Harry Brenner), Bo Hansen, John Szymanski & Bethany Thomas, Verger (Robert F. Haynes & Tony Lazarra)
Behind the Screens: Mariko's Magical Mix: A Dance Adventure | Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival 2016
MONDAY OR TUESDAY
Monday or Tuesday is a meditation on the life and work of the celebrated English author Virginia Woolf. The piece’s central inspiration comes from a prose poem of the same name that was published in 1921 in a volume of short stories also called Monday or Tuesday. The book was largely overlooked, and is a small blip on what was a tremendously powerful literary career. However, Woolf sites it as a major stylistic turning point for her- through it’s creation she happened upon her trademark stream of consciousness writing style. Written in an early, highly poetic version of that style, the poem weaves together imagery and color into a distinctly modern Cezanne-like tapestry. Assembled in sharp angles, vivid snapshots, reds, blues, and blacks- the short story becomes a portrait of the writer awash in a tumultuous contemporary society, set in sharp contrast to a more serene natural world.
Our Monday or Tuesday gets both its form and visual style from Woolf’s Monday or Tuesday, but the character we follow throughout is Woolf herself. The piece also draws inspiration from what was a tumultuous and tremendous life full of literary achievement, powerful relationships, English countrysides, and London smokestacks, and darkly lit bouts with manic depression.
‘I attain a different kind of beauty, achieve a symmetry by means of infinite discords, showing all the traces of the mind’s passage through the world; and achieve in the end, some kind of whole made of shimmering fragments.’ -Virginia Woolf
Commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNOW program.
Monday or Tuesday premiered at the Harris Theatre October 10, 2016 as part of the EarTaxi Festival.
Original Concept and Score by Kyle Vegter Devised by Lizi Breit, Julia Miller and Kyle Vegter Directed by Julia Miller Puppets Designed by Lizi Breit and Julia Miller Puppetry Performed by Alexis Atwill, Lizi Breit, Dan Kerr-Hobert and Diane Mair (Virginia Woolf) Music Conducted by Cliff Colnut Musicians from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra: Cello – Katinka Kleijn Clarinet – Daniel Won Percussion – Cynthia Yeh Piano – Kuang-Hao Huang
*this section is under construction*
A selection of shadow masks I created to alter a performer’s silhouette.