Manual Cinema brings the Story of Gwendolyn Brooks to Life

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Manual Cinema, a Chicago-based theater company, celebrates its tenth anniversary with a month-long virtual birthday party streaming four shows for free.  No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks will stream 24/7 starting at noon on Monday, August 10th, until noon on Monday, August 17th.

The story brings to life one of the most influential poets of the 20th century using illuminative paper-cut puppetry to visually represent Brooks’ life and work in Chicago.

Chicago Defender Gwendolyn BrooksBorn in Topeka, KS in 1917, Brooks and her family moved to Chicago when she was young. At age 13, she published her first poem “Eventide,” At age 17, she frequently published poems in the Chicago Defender. Brooks’ poetry focused on the Black urban experience comprised in her first collection, “A Street in Bronzeville” in 1945.  Her acclaimed poem, “We Real Cool,” was first published by Poetry magazine, a Poetry Foundation program. In 1950, Brooks won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, making her the first African American to receive a Pulitzer Prize for her second book of poetry, “Annie Allen.”

Brooks was a Distinguished Professor of English at Chicago State University for over a decade.  In 1990, the university founded The Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing.  Brooks passed away on December 3rd, 2000.

The stream comes with a suggested donation to compensate for the loss of touring due to the pandemic. Money raised, 10% will go to the performers in the archival videos and the artist who would have performed in the originally planned live performances.

Saturday, August 15th, at 8:00 p.m. CST there will be a live virtual talkback reuniting each production’s creators, collaborators, and fans.

To watch No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks, go to manualcinema.com/watch.

Tammy Gibson is a travel historian and writer. Find her at www.sankofatravelher.com, Facebook, Instagram @SankofaTravelher, and Twitter @SankofaTravelHr.

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