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Arizona Arts Live welcomes Manual Cinema’s ‘Frankenstein’ to Tucson for the first time

Jaidyn Martinez
Arizona Arts Live promotion desk taken in the Arizona Arts Live office on Oct. 2. Manual Cinema’s “Frankenstein” show will take place on Oct. 26 in Centennial Hall.

Arizona Arts Live will host Manual Cinema as they combine live music and video, puppetry and actors to present, for the first time in Arizona, the classic “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley in Centennial Hall on Oct. 26 at 7:30 p.m

Manual Cinema is bringing the residents of Tucson a unique display of the classic novel “to take you on a twisted journey like you’ve never experienced,” as described on the Arizona Arts Live website. This specific production of “Frankenstein” adds a mythical element to the cinematic experience.

“You get to see a movie made live in front of your eyes. So, you get to see an incredible live band creating this giant immersive sound. Five puppeteers and actors changing wigs and pumping puppets and sprinting in front of cameras,” said Sarah Fornace, one of Manual Cinema’s artistic directors.

Ben Kauffman is another founder and owner of Manual Cinema alongside Fornace. Kauffman handles the composing side of the show and described the feeling of the audio as “you’re bathed in it. It washes all over you.”

“Experience unexpected” is Arizona Arts Live’s main goal. 

“We bring artists from around the world to southern Arizona and in doing so, put their work on our stages. When we talk about our stages, Centennial Hall is one of our stages, but we really look at southern Arizona as a whole as our stage,” said Chad Herzog, associate vice president and executive and artistic director of Arizona Arts Live.

He described “Frankenstein” as an immersive experience. 

“There are nine people on stage for ‘Frankenstein.’ There are over 400 different puppets or things that make the puppets, so when you watch it, it’s pretty amazing because you’re watching these four or five puppeteers on stage. You’re watching the band, also on stage, and everything both groups are doing is being projected onto a big film screen,” Herzog said. 

“There’s a lot of different elements on stage, in the visuals and the puppetry and the music, so the audience has a lot of agency as far as what to look at and what to pay attention to,” Kauffman said. “So, each audience member is kind of going to have a slightly different experience of the show, depending on what they’re focusing on. So, it’s not as passive an experience as just going into a movie.”

This is a show for family and friends. Each audience member will see different elements depending on what they want to focus on, allowing attendees to compare their unique experiences.

The show will be 65 minutes of immersive, never-before-seen content. Arizona Arts Live recommends the production for those who are 8 years old and older. 

As an actor in the show, Fornace rates the show at about PG-13 for loud sounds and loud music, especially during the “creature coming alive laboratory sequence.” 

Shelley’s inspiration for “Frankenstein” was the loss of her baby, which will be portrayed in the opening of the production, pushing Fornace’s rating up a little bit. 

“[The production includes] some intense emotional moments and then also intense sonic visual moments in the show. But you know, we’ve had all ages, I would say from 7 and up enjoy it. Whenever people ask us about bringing kids, we say it depends on the kiddo. Especially because there are some scary moments and there are some intense, sudden sounds,” Fornace said. 

Tickets for the production start at $29 and continue up to $49. If you are a UA student, you pay a flat rate of $10 for entrance into the production. Buy tickets at

“I think most people who come will never have seen anything like this, and I would say it’s sort of the best of both worlds as far as an experience of going to the movies and an experience of going to the theater,” Kauffman said.

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