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The Manual Archives space is described as a micro-theater.  The intimate space, about the size of an average bedroom, consists of four church type benches, each seating about six adults, that step down to a miniature 'stage'.  It is the most perfect setting to see small puppet theatre.

The shows use hand manipulated sculptural figures against mostly graphic backgrounds and props that move and reassemble while you watch.  The performances have ranged from invented myth to hidden los angeles history, all with a sharp critical eye that also understands the power of emotion and loss of self involved in simple storytelling.

I cannot recommend anything more highly although I'm a little afraid to post this because so far it has not been difficult to get tickets with just a little planning ahead!  I would suggest you get on the Manual Archives mailing list and then you will receive notices of all Manual Archives/Automata performances plus related events they sponsor around Los Angeles, sorry New Yorkers! (t.v.)


Imagined Spaces/Imagined Lives

A series of collaborations between architects and puppet theater artists
June 5-7 and June 26-28th

Ephemeral citizens inhabit impossible and impractical inventions. Building codes and zoning laws are dispensed with.  Spacial hallucinations are investigated and architectural archeology is unearthed.  These collaborations take the form of topographical maps, walking tours, puppet shows, installations and animated architectural models.
    June 5-7 at 8pm These three evenings will be presented in conjunction with Materials and Applications. Each night will begin at The Manual Archives and conclude a short distance away at Materials and Applications.
      NAME/HERE: a guided walking tour by DanRae Wilson and Julia Hiser
     EXHIBIT A by Tom Pejic, Monica Oller, Katie Shook and Susan Simpson 
             *All three performances will be presented each evening.*

    June 26-28 at 8pm
      THE BRIDGE THAT DENIED ITS BOTTOM by Ana Henton and Caitlin Lainoff
      GRIFFITH PARK INFERNO by Barbara Bestor and Janie Geiser
      HALFWAY TOWARDS A BEGINNING / HALFWAY TOWARDS AN END by Ken Ehrlich and               Darius Manino
            * All three performances will be presented each evening.*

This series curated by Katie Shook and Susan Simpson

Tickets $10 general, $8 students and seniors

For tickets and more information go to

Manual Archives
3320 West Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA

Materials & Applications
1619 Silver Lake Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026


The Manual Archives

From Osaka to Sicily from Mali to Liege, puppet theater has been a vehicle for preserving and regional history and myth. With disarming visual appeal and uncanny mimicry, puppets have passed on factual and fictional stories specific to the places from which they sprang. The Manual Archives seeks to bring this tradition to the sprawling global city of Los Angeles. Undaunted by the ridiculous impossibility of the task, The Manual Archives will gather statistics, anecdotal evidence, folklore, protestations, blatant fabrications, and legitimate oral histories. The findings of these efforts will be returned to the city in a series of overlapping and interrelated puppet plays, films, books, maps, and artifacts.

While inspired by traditional puppet theater this work is rooted in contemporary aesthetics and experimentation. Projected and manipulated film and video, mechanized and electronic objects, and all forms of technological avatars and mimics will play alongside manual puppets. The Manual Archives is a lens through which to view the city and its many doubles.

The Manual Archives is a project of the nonprofit organization AUTOMATA.



Automata is a Los Angeles based organization committed to the creation, presentation, and preservation of puppet and object theater, experimental film, pre-cinematic attractions, and other lost or neglected forms. Automata’s interests are centered in the intersection of objects and performance, artifacts and ephemera, magic and mechanics, artifice and interface. Formed in 2004 by artists Susan Simpson and Janie Geiser, Automata presents intimate performances of original work, film screenings of contemporary and historical work, lectures, and exhibitions in a variety of public and private spaces in the Los Angeles area. The Manual Archives is a project of Automata.

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