Arts & Leisure

Manual Cinema reinvents ‘A Christmas Carol’ Dec. 9-11

THE CHICAGO-BASED performance group Manual Cinema will present “A Christmas Carol” on Dec. 9-11, in a free streaming performance hosted by the Middlebury Performing Arts Series.

‏Following up on their smash 2019 presentation at Middlebury, the interdisciplinary performance collective Manual Cinema takes on Charles Dickens’s holiday classic “A Christmas Carol” with a visually inventive adaptation made for the screen. This production draws on hundreds of paper puppets, miniatures, silhouettes, and an original score to create an imaginative reinvention of a cherished holiday tradition.

‏The Middlebury Performing Arts Series will present this streaming-only event Dec. 9-11, with free streaming tickets available to all. Watch from home and create your own holiday memories.

‏In this version, avowed holiday skeptic Aunt Trudy has been recruited to channel her late husband Joe’s famous Christmas cheer. From the isolation of her studio apartment, she reconstructs his annual Christmas Carol puppet show — over a Zoom call, while the family celebrates Christmas Eve under lockdown. But as Trudy becomes more absorbed in her own version of the story, the puppets take on a life of their own, and the family’s call transforms into a stunning cinematic adaptation of Dickens’s classic ghost story.

‏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 named Chicago Artists of the Year in 2018 by the Chicago Tribune, and was awarded an Emmy in 2017 for “The Forger,” a video created for the New York Times. 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.

‏The Middlebury Performing Art Series’ free virtual presentation of Manual Cinema’s “A Christmas Carol” will begin on Friday, Dec. 9, at 7:30 p.m., and will be available for viewing through Sunday, Dec. 11. Register in advance for free streaming tickets. For tickets or information, call 802-443-MIDD (6433) or visit

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