100 World Class South Africans: Handspring Puppet Company

2013-10-10 12:00

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Magical movers and shakers

During the Queen’s jubilee last year, HRH and her flotilla were saluted by Joey, the star of War Horse.

The acclaimed show, by the Handspring Puppet Company, has been playing at London’s Royal National Theatre and to sold-out theatres around the globe since 2007.

Handspring is the 30-year-old brainchild of Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones.

What began as art students making puppets for children’s shows grew into an extraordinarily powerful form of visual theatre.

The genius behind Handspring – the complex cane sculpting and evocative artwork, together with the poetic micro-movement in performance – sees lifesize (and bigger) puppets magically, wondrously come alive.

Handspring has worked with major local and international directors and fine artists on productions, and partnered with puppeteers, composers and choreographers from West Africa, Europe and the US.

They’ve won multiple awards, including an Olivier and London Critics’ Circle award, and a Special Tony in 2011.

Despite being in demand internationally, Handspring remains based in South Africa.

Kohler and Jones have also started a nonprofit Trust for Puppetry Arts, for training, workshops and supporting projects in townships and rural areas.

Their latest production, Midsummer Night’s Dream, opened in February in Bristol to rave reviews.

Handspring, it seems, has the world on a string.

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