Friday, January 12, 2018

ArtsEmerson Presents "Ada/Ava" by Chicago's Manual Cinema - Riding on the Wings of Unfettered Imagination

Before the weekend is over, make your way to Emerson's Paramount Center to see the astonishing  "Ada/Ava" by Chicago-based Manual Cinema, and presented by ArtsEmerson. There remain only four more chances to see this innovative and moving production - this evening, Saturday afternoon and evening, and Sunday afternoon.

The story is of spinster twin sisters who are keepers of a remote lighthouse. Ada and Ava are mirror images of one another, We see them changing the bulb for the lighthouse, playing chess, and sharing their lives. Then one of the twins dies, and the story becomes one of death and loss and adjustment. What makes this such a remarkable theatrical event is that the gifted artists of Manual Cinema tell the story without words, using a large screen that hangs from the proscenium onto which are projected shadow images - some from puppets, some from props, and some from live actors. Ada is portrayed by Julia Miller, Ava by Lizi Breit, with additional puppetry provided by Drew Dir, Sam Deutsch, and Sarah Fornace. The action is accompanied by live music and sound effects provided by Maren Celest,Ben Kauffman, and Alexander Ellsworth.

The production is Directed by Drew Dir, Score and Sound Design is by Kyle Vegter and Ben Kauffman, and Production Design is by Drew Dir, Sarah Fornace, and Julia Miller.

The overall effect is a fascinating combination of 17th century "lanterna magica" - the magic lantern - and Balinese shadow puppets - the "Wayang kulit."

Wayang Kulit - Shadow puppets
In his program notes, ArtsEmerson Artistic Director David Dower says that when the audience finishes watching this production, "You have been riding on the wings of unfettered imagination." He is so right, for it is the creativity, artistry, and imagination of this troupe, using simple and primitive tools, that allow us to suspend disbelief.And that allows us to attach real feeling to two dimensional shadowy images that magically transform into fully realized human beings in the photosynthesis that occurs in our souls. Such is the power of great art. Like the beam of light projected by Ada and Ava's lighthouse, illuminating dark and dangerous places, great art shines a light of warning and of hope. I hope that you will be drawn to the light the shines brightly this weekend emanating from the Paramount Center.



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