Manual Cinema


Manual Cinema is an Emmy Award winning 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 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. The company was awarded an Emmy in 2017 for "The Forger," a video created for The New York Times and named Chicago Artists of the Year in 2018 by the Chicago Tribune. In 2020 they were included in 50 of Chicago theater "Rising Stars and Storefront Stalwarts" (Newcity). Their shadow puppet animations were featured in the 2021 film remake of Candyman, directed by Nia DaCosta and produced by Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions.

In 2022 they premiered Leonardo! A Wonderful Show About A Terrible Monster, an adaptation of two books by celebrated children’s author Mo Willems and a live adaptation of their 2020 streaming hit A Christmas Carol.


leonardo! a wonderful show about a terrible monster

Leonardo! A Wonderful Show About A Terrible Monster

A whimsical puppet show about a not-so-terrifying monster and his quest to scare!

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