Feb 16–Feb 17

Burlington, VT

Feb 22–Feb 26

Boston, MA

Feb 25

Austin, TX

Mar 07

Seattle, WA



A round table discussion of Candyman and the impact of black horror featuring vignettes designed by Manual Cinema | Universal Pictures 2021

Behind the Screens: Mariko's Magical Mix: A Dance Adventure | Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival 2016

Behind the Scenes: Disarming A Robbery . . .With A Glass of Wine | Invisibilia | NPR 2016

Honors & Awards

Emmy Award logo
Peabody award logo
Jeff Awards
NY Times Critics Pick logo
Time Out NY Critic Pick
The Public
Under the Radar


“a tour-de-force shadow-puppet play that condenses generations of suffering into a few painful vignettes”

Candyman, 2021

“beautifully executed …so effective they could constitute a mini-movie by themselves”

Candyman, 2021

“A gorgeous mixed-media adaptation”

Manual Cinema’s Christmas Carol, December 2020

“This richly inventive adaptation of the Charles Dickens story is specifically themed to our shared painful year, so it will stir your emotions even as it offers a message of hope.”

Manual Cinema’s Christmas Carol, December 2020

“A Decade of Puppets in Organized Chaos”

Manual Cinema’s 10th Anniversary Retrospectacular, July 2020

“Here’s your last chance to catch up with Manual Cinema before ‘Candyman’ hype”

Manual Cinema’s 10th Anniversary Retrospectacular, July 2020

“Manual Cinema celebrates a decade of innovative work”

Manual Cinema’s 10th Anniversary Retrospectacular, July 2020

“A production that defied all the notions and preconceptions of what theater is supposed to be”

The End of TV, December 2019

“A piece of theatre that is full of boundless imagination, ingenious technique and beautiful storytelling that packs an emotional punch … simply outstanding.”

Frankenstein, August 2019

“…an unforgettable experience that transports its audience to the dark realm of Mary Shelley’s tragic tale.”

Frankenstein, August 2019

“…an exquisitely stylized, self-contained reality that seems to belong both to the early 19th century, when Shelley’s novel was written, and to the dark corridors of its author’s imagination.”

Frankenstein, January 2019

“…impossible to look away”

Frankenstein, January 2019

“…an experience like none other…ingenious”

Frankenstein, January 2019

“Chicagoans of the Year: Directors of Manual Cinema have created a whole new art form”

December 2018

“a complex visual treat…impressive in scope and execution, entertaining, and (especially if you’ve never seen Manual Cinema before) absolutely fascinating to watch.”

Frankenstein, November 2018

“…an ingenious merger of live music and captivating visuals. No matter where you look, you’ll find beauty and intrigue.”

Frankenstein, November 2018

“ambitious…the epitome of what creative theater can be.”

Frankenstein, December 2018

“brimming with accomplished performances and imaginative images, colored with sights and sounds, light and shadow…a majestic accomplishment that boggles the mind.”

Frankenstein, November 2018

“Puppets, green screens: How did Manual Cinema become the toughest ticket in Wicker Park?”

The End of TV, August 2018

“With puppets, projections and a Rust Belt story, Manual Cinema works magic”

The End of TV, August 2018

“‘No Blue Memories’ gives glimpse of Gwendolyn Brooks’ literary life, legacy.”

No Blue Memories, November 2017

“You’ve Never Seen Gwendolyn Brooks Like This Before”

No Blue Memories, November 2017

“Manual Cinema turns Gwendolyn Brooks into poetry magic”

No Blue Memories, November 2017

“The End of TV”‘s artistry is awesome. Its impact is profound, unique, indescribable.”

The End of TV, June 2017

” a fascinating theatergoing experience blending live music, old TV video clips and shadow puppetry”

The End of TV, June 2017

“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”

The End of TV, June 2017

“Incredibly ingenious and utterly unusual: Manual Cinema has invented a new genre”

Lula Del Ray, March 2017

“…one would have to lack a pulse to not be transported back to a state of childhood wonderment at the universe Manual Cinema creates”

The Magic City, March 2017

“Manual Cinema’s ‘Magic City’ lets everyone in”

The Magic City, February 2017

“Lula del Ray,’ a Spectral Parade of Fantastical Images”

Lula Del Ray, January 2017

“Lula Del Ray shattered the perceptions of what theatre should and can be.”

Lula Del Ray, January 2017

“a special sort of brew—a multimedia hybrid of shadow puppetry, cinematic arts, physical acting, living music… and that is simplifying it all a great deal”

Lula Del Ray, January 2017

“the writer’s psychological center … was beautifully evoked by the spare melancholy of Manual Cinema’s visuals”

Monday or Tuesday, October 2016

“an exquisitely precise piece of visual storytelling”

Ada/Ava, August 2016

“…a brilliant mix of hi-fi and lo-fi”

Ada/Ava, August 2016

“a feat of sophisticated shadow puppetry”

My Soul’s Shadow, November 2015

“wildly imaginative”

Mariko’s Magical Mix: A Dance Adventure, October 2015

“… this Chicago troupe is conjuring phantasms to die for in an unclassifiable story of spectral beauty…”

Ada/Ava, June 2015

Manual Cinema Presents the Semi-Gothic ‘Ada/Ava’

Ada/Ava, June 2015

“Manual Cinema is talent incarnate”

Ada/Ava, June 2015

“Welcome to a brave new sensibility that’s corny and cutting-edge, backward and forward looking, at the same time.”

Ada/Ava, June 2015

“an immersive, engaging experience”

My Soul’s Shadow, April 2015

“One of the most intriguing productions this spring…”

La Celestina, Marhc 2015

“Manual Cinema’s remarkable sleight-of-hand goes far beyond puppetry”

Mementos Mori, January 2015

“Calling Manual Cinema “shadow puppetry” doesn’t do it justice.”

Lula Del Ray, February 2015

“a hybrid of live acting and puppetry that results in something like a vintage silent film”

Lula Del Ray, February 2015

“American performers get standing ovation in Iran”

Ada/Ava, September 2014

Manual Cinema mixes puppets, projectors, and live music


“the most creative thing you’ve seen all year”

Ada/Ava, February 2013

“ingenious multimedia performance”

Ada/Ava, 2013

“…the boundaries between cinema and live theater, puppetry and reality”


“I feel like I’m not doing justice to explaining how magical this all was … unimaginably intricate”

Lula Del Ray, 2013

“strangely mesmerizing and thoroughly modern”

Fjords, 2012

“extraordinary technical sophistication”

Ada/Ava, 2011

“Their works completely re-enchant me with the moving image”