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Fringe Online 2020

Low Down

“Love, loss, and creation merge in unexpected ways in this thrilling classic gothic tale conceived by Manual Cinema. Stories of Mary Shelley, Victor Frankenstein, and his Monster expose how the forces of family, community, and education shape personhood—or destroy it by their absence.”


Manual Cinema performs Frankenstein as part of Cal Performances at Home, streaming premiere Thursday, October 29 at 7pm PDT; Performance will be available on demand until January 27th, 2021. Pictured: Sarah Fornace (credit: Drew Dir)

Manual Cinema’s latest show, Frankenstein, is produced by Cal Performances at Home, UC Berkeley, California with its streaming premiere on October 29, 2020 and the performance will be available on demand until January 27th2021. Frankenstein is adapted from the novel by Mary Shelley with Concept by Drew Dir and devised by Dir, Sarah Fornace, and Julia Miller, with original music by Ben Kauffman and Kyle Vegter.

Sepia shadow play brings alive the tenderness of a young woman as she awaits a happy time. This is none other than Mary Shelley who is also writing her novel Frankenstein, with quill pen in hand. Enchanting music and delicate imagery transport us to 1815 London in this seventy minute show. 

Suddenly there is a rain storm with lightening…and a visitor in a top hat…in the shadows…and everything changes!

Manual Cinema performs Frankenstein as part of Cal Performances at Home, streaming premiere Thursday, October 29 at 7pm PDT; Performance will be available on demand until January 27th, 2021. Pictured: Creature and Victor

Manual Cinema from Chicago creates shows in their unique style of cinematic shadow puppetry – they weave their magic through imaginative handmade slides, puppets, objects, shadows, live actors, overhead projectors, inventive staging with outstanding music. There is a mesmerizing filmic quality to their non verbal visual storytelling which appeals to audiences of all ages and languages.

Elements of Mary Shelley’s life together with the Frankenstein story about creation and abandonment are told through the live action puppetry of hundreds of slides, character silhouettes and a bunraku style creature puppet by an all female acting ensemble of five actor puppeteers and four musicians. Shadow puppet design by Drew Dir and Lizi Breit; Projections and scenic design by Rasean Davonte Johnson.

The visuals move and transition seamlessly – and sometimes linger with exquisite emotive moments enveloped by the vibrant sound score. A special feature of the music is the addition of 10 percussive robot instruments that have a wondrous life of their own and produce a rich sound together with the musicians.

Another fascinating element of Manual Cinema’s productions is that they show the shadow play storytelling on a huge fabric screen above the stage, as well as the mechanics of how they are creating the show below, actors and musicians in front of the audience.

Manual Cinema’s Frankenstein is a wonderful and exceptional theatre experience and should not be missed – it is visual storytelling at its best!

For more information about the company and how they developed Frankenstein, listen to our interview with Sarah Fornace, one of Manual Cinema’s Co Artistic Directors and actor in Frankenstein: