‘Frankenstein’ viewed through Manual Cinema eyes

Cast and production crew of Manual Cinema's Frankenstine at Court Theatre (Michael Brosilow photos)
Cast and production crew of Manual Cinema’s Frankenstine at Court Theatre (Michael Brosilow photos)

4 Stars

It is supposed that our most ancient cave dwelling predecessors told supernatural cautionary tales of adventure that included encounters with fantastic creatures.

Their flickering fires casting out-sized, ominous, and at times, grotesque shadows on the wall amplified the sense of dread and danger. Add the slow beating of a drum mimicking the ever increasing beating of hearts, mixing with the mysterious sounds of nature lurking in the darkness and you begin to see the primeval recipe that Manual Cinema has tapped into in the telling of their version of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.”

Manual Cinema is a singular theatrical experience that has elements of street theater and silent film. The company mixes live action, silhouettes, puppets, shadow puppetry, masks, video, slide projection and all manner of theatrical techniques, ancient and modern to create a captivating monochromatic video mash-up, reminiscent of a nickelodeon feature, assembled and projected on stage before your eyes.

Continue reading “‘Frankenstein’ viewed through Manual Cinema eyes”

Around town: Ethnic and scary events end the month of October


See Young Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein at the CSO (Photo courtesy of CSO)
See Young Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein at the CSO (Photo courtesy of CSO)

Frankenstein is back in town

See the scary “Bride of Frankenstein” and funny “Young Frankenstein” movies with background music by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave.  Oct. 26 For tickets and other information call (312) 294-3000 and visit CSO.

Or see Remy Bumppo’s scary production of Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein,” Oct. 28-30 (Oct. 27, 27 and 31 are sold out) at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. For tickets and other information call (773) 975.8150 or visit RemyBumppo.


Historic African American Design exhibit

“2019 African American Designers in Chicago: Art, Commerce and the Politics of Race” opens Oct. 27, at the Chicago Cultural Center. The exhibit runs the advertising gamut from illustration, cartoons, and graphic design to architectural signage, product and exhibit design and sign painting.

Located up on the fourth floor and continuing   through Mar. 3, 2019, the exhibiti s part of the current Art Design Chicago events that explore the city’s art and design history. Art Design Chicago is partially funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art and The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.

The Chicago Cultural Center is at 78 E. Washington St. For more information visit City of Chicago.


Historic designs by African Americans on exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center. (Photo courtesy of City of Chicago)
Historic designs by African Americans on exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center. (Photo courtesy of City of Chicago)


Hobnob with mummies

The Oriental Institute, an internationally known center for study of ancient Middle Eastern civilizations, is holding Mummy Tours every half hour Oct 27 from 4 to 7 p.m. Space is limited so registration is  needed. Admission is free but adults are asked for a $5 donation.  The event also includes Mummy Simulations. Tickets to the Mummy Simulations (also every half hour) are free to adults, $3 per child, and can be purchased at the event.  For registration and other information visit Oriental Institute. .For questions call the OI Public Education Office at (773) 702-9507. The Oriental Institute is at 1155 E. 58th St. on the University of Chicago campus..


Dia De Los Muertos

Maxwell Street Market is celebrating the Day of the Dead Oct. 28 from 10:30 a.m. to-2 p.m. with the dedication of a surrealist Mexican mural, pumpkin carving. An ofrenda (altar) workshop, other arts and crafts and live music. The Maxwell Street Market is at 800 S. Des Plaines Ave. For event times and more information visit Maxwell Street Market.

Jodie Jacobs




Four freakishly fun Halloween happenings

Godfrey Hotel has haunted rooms. (Godfrey Hotel photo)
Godfrey Hotel has haunted rooms. (Godfrey Hotel photo)


Party in the Haunted Hotel

Some Chicago hotels are reputedly haunted such as the Congress Plaza on Michigan Avenue. But seeing ghostly figures there is not guaranteed. Thus, to be sure to come across spooky guest rooms, visit the Godfrey on West Huron, Oct. 27, 2018 when it holds its annual Haunted Hotel. The fourth floor rooftop lounge will be serving bewitched potions. Daring guests are welcome to explore the 20 haunted rooms on the fifth floor. The event goes from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. Tickets start at $45 per person. For ticket and other information visit Godfrey events.  The Godfrey Hotel Chicago is at 127 W. Huron St.

Or party with the real Frankenstein

Before the Court Theatre holds Manual Cinema’s world premiere of its version of “Frankenstein” on Nov. 1, it is opening the show’s final dress rehearsal to a limited number of ticket holders who are ready to party Oct. 31, 2018.  Attendees should come dressed ghoulishly creepy or creatively spooky to compete in a costume contest and hungry enough to wolf down strange hors (or is it horror) d’oeuvres and cocktails. Tickets are $75 and cover the pre-show party at 6:30 p.m., performance and then a post-show artists’ mingle. Purchases of two or more tickets drop the price by $5. The Court Theatre is at 5535 S. Ellis Ave. at the west end of the University of Chicago Hyde Park campus. For tickets or other information visit the box office, call (773) 753-4472, or visit Court Theatre.

Continue reading “Four freakishly fun Halloween happenings”

Lookingglass does ‘Frankenstein’ and the story behind it


Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Cordelia Dewdney at Lookingglass. (Photo by Sean Williams)
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Cordelia Dewdney at Lookingglass. (Photo by Sean Williams)

In January, 1818 British author Mary Shelley first published “Frankenstein (subtitle The Modern Prometheus).” This season, Court (Manual Cinema), Lifeline, Lookingglass and Remy Bumppo Theatre Companies are recognizing the 200th anniversary by each doing their version of “Frankenstein.”

Anyone interested in the similarities and differences that the four excellent Chicago companies will emphasize in their productions should try to snag a ticket to “Frankenstein: Unearthed,” Sept. 30, 2018, a 1 p.m. program at Lookingglass Theatre, 821 N. Michigan Ave. in the Chicago Water Tower Water Works. For tickets and information visit Lookingglass Theatre.

Moderated by Chicago Tribune  Critic Chris Jones, the event features a panel of Manuel Cinema’s Drew Dir, Lifeline’s Robert Kauzlaric and Ann Sonneville, Lookingglass’ David Catlin and Cordelia Dewdney and Remy Bumppo’s Ian Frank and Eliza Stoughton.

Among the issues examined will be “How is this story told?” To answer that from the Lookingglass perspective, Chicago Theater and Arts talked with ensemble member and the production’s writer/director, David Catlin, about the route traveled to write the script, what his research uncovered and what audiences can expect when the show premieres in 2019.

Lookingglass Theatre writer/director David Caitlin. (Lookingglass photo)
Lookingglass Theatre writer/director David Catlin. (Lookingglass photo)

“Heidi (Stillman, ensemble member and artistic director) had an existing script. I looked at it and read it but it was not grabbing me as I thought it should. So she said we’ll commission you to do an adaptation.

“I’m sure the points were present in the script but they not stick out so I went back to the book. I had missed reading it in high school and didn’t get it in college,” said Catlin.

He did more than read the book. Catlin also researched its author.

“I was amazed this could get out of an 18 year-old and a woman in that time period when women were not encouraged. It was a powerful piece.” Continue reading “Lookingglass does ‘Frankenstein’ and the story behind it”