More about No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks
The Poetry Foundation commissioned Manual Cinema in 2016 to visually represent the life and work of Gwendolyn Brooks in a way that would be accessible for new fans and enticing for Brooks appreciators alike. The resulting production, No Blue Memories, received its world premiere in November 2017, what would have been Brooks’s hundredth year.
The 70-minute show combines intricate paper puppetry, live actors working in shadow, and an original score played live on stage. The script was co-written by Chicago poets Eve L. Ewing and Nate Marshall. The music was commissioned from Jamila Woods and Ayanna Woods, who were granted permission from the Brooks estate for the first time to write a song using Brooks’s famous poem “We Real Cool.” The production also samples many of Brooks’s most memorable poems including “Eventide,” Beverly Hills, Chicago,” “Speech to the Young, Speech to the Progress Toward,” and “Chicago Picasso.”
“Manual Cinema turns Gwendolyn Brooks into poetry magic,” wrote the Chicago Reader when No Blue Memories premiered last September at the Harold Washington Library Center. Chicago Magazine promised “You’ve never seen Gwendolyn Brooks like this before.”
“Whether you’re a diehard Brooks fan or someone who is new to her work, we want everyone to walk away with a new favorite poem,” says co-author and poet Eve Ewing. “Her work continues to be relevant, and will always be relevant, because it will always be important for regular people to tell stories about where they’re from.”
“It was an honor to take Eve Ewing’s and Nate Marshall’s nuanced, detailed vision of Brooks’s life and realize it in paper and acetate,” said Manual Cinema Director Sarah Fornace. “We cannot wait to get our incredible team of actors together again and perform this epic live cinematic show bursting with poetry, puppetry, and live music in Chicago’s historic Studebaker Theater.”