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Home » News » Opening Nights Performing Arts Presents: Manual Cinema in “ADA/AVA”

Opening Nights Performing Arts Presents: Manual Cinema in “ADA/AVA”

Published March 7, 2017
ada ava image

Image Courtesy of Yi Zhao

Opening Nights Performing Arts will host Manual Cinema in their performance of ADA/AVA in the Richard G. Fallon Theatre on Thursday, March 23rd at 7:30pm. General admission tickets are available to the public and student tickets are available to FSU, FAMU, and TCC students.


Bereaved of her twin sister Ava, septuagenarian Ada solitarily marks time in the patterns of a life built for two. However, a traveling carnival and a trip to a mirror maze plunges her into a journey across the thresholds of life and death. Set in a landscape of the New England gothic, ADA/AVA uses a story of the fantastic and super natural to explore mourning and melancholy, self and other.


Directed by Drew Dir
Sound Design and Original Score by Kyle Vegter and Ben Kauffman
Designed by Drew Dir, Sarah Fornace, and Julia Miller

MANUAL CINEMA is a performance collective, design studio, and film/ video production company founded in 2010 by Drew Dir, Sarah Fornace, Ben Kauffman, Julia Miller, and Kyle Vegter. Manual Cinema combines 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.

To date Manual Cinema has created three feature length live cinematic shadow puppet shows (Lula Del Ray, ADA/ AVA, Mementos Mori); 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); two original site-specific installations (La Celestina, My Soul’s Shadow); 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 NYTimes Best Selling author Reif Larson; a live non-fiction piece for Pop-Up Magazine (SF); cinematic trailers; a short, self-produced 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’s work has been presented by the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC) The Tehran International Puppet Festival (Iran), La Monnaie-De Munt (Brussels) 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.

Currently, Manual Cinema is developing an original, immersive adaptation of Peter Pan with Randy Weiner (Sleep No More, The Donkey Show, Queen of the Night) that will premiere in an open ended run in Beijing in Fall 2016. The company has begun work on a similar adaptation of Little Prince that will premiere in an open ended run in Shanghai in late 2017. In early 2017 they will premiere their latest feature length, cinematic shadow puppetry show based on Edith Nesbit’s novel Magic City. This summer they will begin production on a second, self-produced short film based on Virginia Woolf’s The Haunted House to premiere in late 2017. They’ll also create a live performed companion piece to the film that will premiere in October 2017 as part of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNOW series.

Manual Cinema’s ADA/AVA will receive its European premiere with daily performances at the Underbelly’s Topside August 3-29, 2016.

Opening Nights Performing Arts at Florida State University aims to engage our university, local, and global communities in creative experiences.