The Baxter to premiere an adaptation of JM Coetzee’s Life and Times of Michael K

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The production is adapted by Lara Foot in collaboration with the Handspring Puppet Company. (Fiona McPherson)
The production is adapted by Lara Foot in collaboration with the Handspring Puppet Company. (Fiona McPherson)
  • This June, The Baxter will stage its largest and most illustrious undertaking in the decade. 
  • Adapted from Life and Times of Michael K,  the production will combines puppetry, performance, film and evocative music.
  • The production is adapted by Lara Foot in collaboration with the Handspring Puppet Company. 


The Baxter Theatre Centre is proud to announce its most ambitious and exciting production in recent years, the world premiere of Nobel Prize-winning author JM Coetzee’s Life and Times of Michael K, adapted for the stage by Lara Foot, in collaboration with the Handspring Puppet Company. 

The highly anticipated co-production between The Baxter, Theater der Welt Düsseldorf 2020, Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus and Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, debuts from 7 to 19 June 2021, and brings together some of South Africa’s most revered, multi-award-winning artists. 

Written and directed by Foot, it is the largest and most illustrious undertaking by the theatre over the past decade and is the culmination of two years of planning. It marks the first time that she will be working with the Tony award-winning Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler from the hit production War Horse-fame, along with a formidable cast and creative team.

South African theatre legends Sandra Prinsloo and Andrew Buckland lead the impressive cast comprising Fansiwa Yisa, puppet master Craig Leo, Roshina Ratnam, Carlo Daniels, Marty Kintu, Billy Langa, Nolufefe Ntshuntshe, along with German puppeteer Markus Schabbing.

Epic in scale, Life and Times of Michael K, is a multi-layered theatrical staging which combines puppetry, performance, film and evocative music, bringing to life Coetzee’s Booker Prize-winning novel.

The production was invited to debut at the Theater der Welt festival at the Düsseldorf Theatre in Germany, in June last year. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdown and travel restrictions, the festival was postponed to 2021. With the uncertainty of travel bans currently impacting many countries, the organisers decided to open in South Africa at The Baxter with plans to transfer to the Theater der Welt festival when restrictions are lifted. 

The hauntingly beautiful story follows Michael K, a simple man who embarks on a journey through South Africa, ravaged by civil war, to return his mother to die on the farm, where she was born. He finds strength in his own humanity, his profound connection to the earth and his unique path which, as it unfolds, reveals to him, his reason for living.

The creative team is made up of Handspring Puppet Company (puppet directors, design and makers), Patrick Curtis (set design) Kyle Shepherd (original music composition), Joshua Cutts (lighting), Fiona McPherson and Barrett de Kock (directors of photography and film), Yoav Dagan (videography and editing), Kirsti Cumming (projection design), Phyllis Midlane (costumes) and Simon Kohler (sound design).

Seating is limited and all performances will be limited to 250 capacity, with COVID-19 protocols in place as regulated at Adjusted Level 1 during the national state of disaster. These include the availability of hand sanitisers, tracking and tracing recorded, wearing of masks and physical distancing. Patrons and audience members are advised to arrive at least an hour before the start of the performance to avoid delays.

Life and Times of Michael K, runs at the Baxter Theatre from 7 to 19 June at 7pm nightly, with Saturday matinees on 12 and 19 and Wednesday 16 June at 2pm.

Tickets can be booked through Webtickets or at any Pick n Pay store. 

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