Manual Cinema: The End of TV

Saturday, January 12, 2019 - 8:00pm

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Told through original 70’s R&B-inspired art pop songs and set in a post-industrial Rust Belt city, The End of TV explores the quest to find meaning amidst a constant barrage of commercial images. Two sides of the American Dream - its technicolor promise as delivered through TV ads, and its failure, witnessed in the dark reality of industrial decline - are staged in cinematic shadow puppetry and lo-fi live video feeds with flat paper renderings of commercial products. The show is driven by a sweeping chamber art pop song cycle performed live by a five-piece band.

True to its name, Manual Cinema brings handspun cinema to life in real time using intimate, unassuming technologies. With vintage overhead projectors, shadow puppetry, actors, live-feed cameras, multi-channel sound design, and an onstage music ensemble, Manual Cinema creates cinematic wonderment imbued with immediacy, ingenuity, and theatricality—all within audience view.

The End of TV depicts the stories of Flo and Louise, both residents of a fictional Midwestern city in the 1990s. Flo is an elderly white woman who was once a supervisor at the thriving local auto plant. Now succumbing to dementia, the memories of her life are tangled with television commercials and the “call now” demands of QVC. Louise, a young black woman laid off from her job when the same local auto plant closes, meets Flo when she takes a job as a Meals-on-Wheels driver. An unlikely relationship grows as Flo approaches the end of her life and Louise prepares for the invention of a new one.

The End of TV premiered in June 2017 as a commission by The International Festival of Arts and Ideas, New Haven, CT.

This performance is funded in part by the New England Foundation for the Arts' National Theater Project, with lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Manual Cinema