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.

Ada/Ava premiered in 2013.


Directed by Drew Dir
Sound Design and Original Score by Kyle Vegter and Ben Kauffman
Designed by Drew Dir, Sarah Fornace, and Julia Miller
Additional Drums, Synthesizer, and Piano by Michael Hilger
Wigs and Costumes by Mieka van der Ploeg
Mask Design by Julia Miller

Original Cast
Lizi Breit (Ava/Puppeteer)
Sarah Fornace (Puppeteer)
Evan Garrett (Puppeteer)
Julia Miller (Ada/Puppeteer)
Maren Celest (Vocals, Clarinet, Live Sound Effects)
Michael Hilger (Synthesizer, Guitar)
Kyle Vegter (Cello, Keyboard)

Additional cast of Ada/Ava includes

Puppeteering by Kara Davidson (Ava), Drew Dir, Sam Deutsch, Charlotte Long, Myra Su, and Vanessa Valliere (Ada)
Music Performed by Alex Ellsworth (Cello, Keyboard), Ben Kauffman (Synthesizer, Guitar), Izzy Olive (Vocals, Clarinet, Live Sound Effects), Eric Streichert (Synthesizer, Guitar), and Jacob Winchester (Synthesizer, Guitar)


“an exquisitely precise piece of visual storytelling”
Lyn Gardner, The Guardian August, 2016

“. . .a brilliant mix of hi-fi and lo-fi”
Mike Wade, The Scottish Times August, 2016

“. . . this Chicago troupe is conjuring phantasms to die for in an unclassifiable story of spectral beauty…”
Ben Brantley, New York Times Critics’ Pick June, 2015

“Manual Cinema is talent incarnate”
Helen Shaw, Critics’ Pick Time Out New York June, 2015

“. . . DIY work that’s anything but rustic and simple.”
Monica Westin, Flavorpill Editor’s Pick

“. . . extraordinary technical sophistication—a rich quadraphonic sound design, cinematic transitions. . . the overall effect is gentle, lovely, fascinating.”
Tony Adler, Chicago Reader, 2011


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Photos by Yi Zhao and Howard Ash


The soundtrack for Ada/Ava was released on limited edition cassette tape by Teen River in February 2012. It is available here on CD, tape or digital download.