Multi-media show celebrates the life of African-American poet Gwendolyn Brooks

A musical salute to the first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize is coming to the Chan Centre.

On Sunday, Feb. 24, Chicago’s Manual Cinema presents No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks. The multimedia production features shadow puppets, video projection, and a six-piece live band. Find out more about Brooks and the show dedicated to her below.

Gwendolyn Brooks was born in Kansas in 1917 and raised in Chicago. She published her first poem at the age of 13, and by 16 had written 75 poems. She published her first book of poems, A Street in Bronzeville, in 1945. By then, she’d picked up encomiums from the likes of literary stars Langston Hughes and Richard Wright.

In 1949 Brooks published Annie Allen, for which she received the Pulitzer Prize. Besides winning the Pulitzer for Annie Allen, a collection of portraits, Brooks was the first black woman to become a poetry consultant for the Library of Congress, the first to be inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and was appointed Poet Laureate of Illinois in 1968. She also mentored aspiring poets and advocated for schoolchildren

In Manuel Cinema’s No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks, the innovative art-collective collaborates with Chicago-based poets Eve L. Ewing and Nate Marshall to trace the political arc of Brooks’ career and the development of her craft. The show features projections, puppets, and a live six-piece band performing an original score by Chicago-based soul singer Jamila Woods and multi-instrumentalist Ayanna Woods.

“Manual Cinema creates magic, pure and simple. Through the unlikely pairing of high-tech digital equipment and old-school overhead projectors they are known for completely captivating audiences,” says Wendy
Atkinson, Programming Manager at the Chan Centre. “Two years ago they
performed here to rave reviews and when I heard about their most recent project… I couldn’t resist inviting them back!”

Chan Centre is also presenting a couple of ancillary events in conjunction with the show. They include:

• Telling Stories with Shadows: A Workshop with Manual Cinema (Sat, Feb 23, 7 p.m. at the Vancouver Art Gallery, 750 Hornby St.)— Manual Cinema presents a look at their storytelling techniques and cinematic language in this two-hour interactive workshop. $25.

• Pre-Show Talk with Jillian Christmas (Sun, Feb 24, 6:15 p.m. in the Royal Bank Cinema at the Chan Centre)J—Local poet Jillian Christmas explores Brooks’ legacy and literature. Free for ticket holders.

No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks
Date: Sunday, Feb 24 at 7 p.m.
Ticket Prices: From $20
Address: Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, University of British Columbia, 6265 Crescent Road
Box Office: 604-822-2697 /

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