Handspring Puppet Company works with different creative partners, depending on the artistic project. What follows here is a list of our permanent staff and some of our most frequent performers.

Creative Production Team

The creative production team is the group of people within Handspring Puppet Company responsible for selecting, designing, writing, developing, producing and directing the work we create.

Adrian Kohler
Adrian KohlerCo-founder and Artistic Director of Handspring Puppet Company
Co-founder and Artistic Director of Handspring Puppet Company, Adrian Kohler is considered to be one of the world’s leading masters of his medium. His mother was a thoughtful amateur puppeteer, who with his father, as yacht builder and cabinetmaker, gave him a firm grounding in woodwork and the creation of moving figures. A BA Fine Art at the University of Cape Town followed. He then spent a year at The Space Theatre – the city’s only non-racial venue at the time and another in Birmingham U.K. at the Canon Hill Arts Centre and Weld Community Arts Centre. Kohler then moved to Botswana to run the National Popular Theatre Programme for three years. His puppets for Handspring have been widely acclaimed and exhibited. He has had a solo retrospective at the National Gallery in South Africa, and groups of his works have been shown at The Barbican Art Gallery, London and The Museum for African Art, New York. His puppets are held in public and private collections including the Constitutional Court in South Africa, the Munich Stadtmuseum in Germany, and the Old Mutual Art Collection. Kohler received the Michaelis Prize, a lifetime achievement award from Tshwane University [2006] and an honorary doctorate in literature UCT [2012].
Basil Jones
Basil JonesCo-founder and Executive Producer of Handspring Puppet Company
Co-founder and Executive Producer of Handspring Puppet Company, Jones completed his BFA at UCT where he met future husband, Adrian Kohler. In 1990, Jones set up a not for profit NGO Handspring Trust, which produced the award winning Spider’s Place, an innovative, multi-media science education series for TV, radio and comic aimed at young learners from disadvantaged backgrounds. He set up the Handspring Awards for Puppetry, which recognise and encourage puppet design, direction and performance in South Africa. The Handspring Trust is involved in a number of projects in urban township and rural areas, using puppetry as a means to educate and empower youth and bring communities together through street parades and performance. He speaks and writes on the subject of puppetry and is deeply interested in growing an international dialogue on the theatre of objects. He received the Naledi Executive Directors Award [2012], a lifetime achievement award from Tshwane University [2006] and an honorary doctorate in literature from UCT [2012].
Jane Taylor
Jane Taylor Dramaturge and Academic
Jane Taylor is a South African who has worked for two decades in cultural practice and cultural critique. In 1987 she edited (with David Bunn) From South Africa, a collection of graphics and writing covering the years of Emergency in South Africa (University of Chicago Press). In 1996 she curated Fault Lines – an exhibition conceived to engage with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In the same year she wrote Ubu and the Truth Commission for Handspring and William Kentridge. In 1999 she was a Rockefellow Fellow, and she curated Holdings: Refiguring the Archive (Forthcoming, 2002). In 2001 she wrote Zeno at 4am which has been absorbed into the larger work, Confessions of Zeno. She has a PhD from Northwestern University, Chicago USA, and currently holds the Skye Chair of Dramatic Art at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. She is currently writing a book on the history of affect and the performance of sincerity, and is working on a new play script.
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This book focuses on puppet theatre and the substance of various Handspring productions.

Handspring-Puppet-Company-Book-zoom-0None of these could have been realised without the support, over twenty-eight years, of many theatre professionals: lighting designers, stage managers, producers, funders, costume makers, set designers and builders, composers, sound designers, sound technicians, interns, sculptors,animatronics experts, musicians, singers, company managers and, of course, the directors, writers, puppeteers and actors.
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Handspring Puppet Company works with freelance professional puppeteers, actors and dancers to perform in productions. Several performers have worked with the company on numerous occasions and we consider them to be part of the current greater Handspring team. Below is a selection of such performers, people who have performed with Handspring on a regular basis and continue to work with the company:

Ncedile Daki
Ncedile Daki Puppet Builder, Assistant Engineer
Nced is from an informal settlement called Masiphumelele. Prior to working for Handspring he was an assistant at the local library. It was there that he took up art classes on the weekend and met the woman who introduced him to Handspring. Ned entered the team as a Studio Assistant but has quickly progressed to independently building puppet components from plan. Ned builds his own puppets for the Masiphumelele Youth Development theatre group. Working at Handspring he finds he is able to do what he has wanted to do all his life – make art.
Gabriel Marchand
Marchand is an actor and puppeteer who graduated from UCT’s Theatre and Performance programme in 2009. Since then he has toured India with Pieter Dirk-Uys’s Macbeki, the UK and the Netherlands with Asanda Phewa’s A Face Like Mine and played alongside Oscar Peterson and David Isaacs in Damon Galgut’s production of Waiting for Godot. Marchand rejoins the cast of Ouroboros a year after its successful debut at last year’s National Arts Festival. This is also his first time working with Handspring Puppet Company. He wrote the music for The Suitcase Stories, a NAF Main Festival show and The Golden Ring which premiered at last year’s Out the Box Festival. Gabriel will perform in Jaqueline Dommisse’s Sadako at the National Arts Festival later this year.
Wesley FranceTechnician
He has twenty years experience in production, company management and lighting design for the performing arts. He was senior production manager for the Market Theatre in Johannesburg for eight years and has been nominated numerous times for a Vita Award for Best Lighting Design, most recently for Lara Foot’s production of Waiting for Godot. France has been company manager and lighting supervisor for many international tours. Since 1991 he has toured internationally with Handspring for their productions Woyzeck on the Highveld, Faustus in Africa, The Chimp Project, Ubu and the Truth Commission, Il Ritorno d’Ulisse, Zeno at 4am and Confessions.
Bruce Koch
Worked extensively at the Market Theatre since 1980. Highlights include ‘Laughing Wild’. ‘Telegrams from Hell’, ‘Struts and Frets”. ‘Gomorrah’ ”Wangashaya Wangashaya”. ‘Shakespeare at the Market’. Was the Coordinator and lighting designer for ‘The Barney Simon Young Directors Festival’ 1998 and 1999.Coordinated the Barney Simon Young Writers Festival in 2001 and 2002. Stage Management credits include ‘Diepe grond’ ,Athol Fugard’s ‘A lesson from Aloes’ Barney Simons’ Silent Movie’ and ‘Black Dog Ngemyama.’ Woman of Africa – Inyanga’ ‘Forbidden Fruits’ ‘Night Mother’ ‘The Last Trek” ‘Jack and the beanstalk’ ‘Sexual perversity in Chicago’ Amampondo’ ‘Johnny Clegg’ ‘Mswake Mbuli’ ‘World summit conference launch’ Pieter Dirk Uy’s’Evita’s Ballot Bus Tour’ ‘Siyavuma” ‘Endgame’ ‘Shopping and Fucking’ ‘Fanon’s Children’ ‘ Mooi Street Moves’ ‘Amabali – it’s storytime’. International highlights include ‘Woyzeck on the highveld’ ‘Faustus in Africa’ and ‘Ubu and the truth commission’ For William Kentridge and the ‘Handspring Puppet Company. ‘Black Dog – Ngemyama’ ‘Starbrites’ Robyn Orlyns ‘Orpheus, I mean Euripides, I mean the natural history of a chorus girl’. Was a technical host for the cultural city of the year in Antwerp, Belgium and worked with companies from Turkey, Slovenia, Belgium and Canada. Was attached trainee director for the Royal National Theatre Studio in London and Edinburgh. Founder member of SPANK productions. Directorial credits include ‘Ward Music’ ‘A murder of crows’ ‘Umlungu – Beauty Bound’ and ‘They shoot extras don’t they’ . Has co – written three productions at the Market Theatre. ‘Best Wedding Ever,’ ‘They shoot extras don’t they. And most recently ‘Loving Lulu’.
Busi ZukofaPerformer
Born into a family of musicians, Busi Zokufa’s early professional work was as a vocalist. In 1987 she joined Sibikwa Players in Daveyton where her first stage role was in So Where To? at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg. The play also toured abroad. Zokufa then worked briefly with township-based bands at Mega Studios. In 1990 she performed as a puppeteer for the first time with Handspring in Barney Simon’s Starbrites at the Market Theatre and which also went on to tour abroad. Since Starbrites, Zokufa has performed as a puppeteer with Handspring in A Spider’s Place, Woyzeck on the Highveld, Faustus in Africa, The Chimp Project, Ubu and the Truth Commission, Il Ritorno d’Ulisse, Zeno at 4am and Confessions. She also does television drama work.
Simon Mahoney
Has worked extensively in the theatre, film and television studio on sound. His live theatre experience includes engineering sound for the Handspring/Kentridge productions Faustus in Africa!, Ubu and the Truth Commission, Zeno at 4 am, Confessions of Zeno and Handspring’s production The Chimp Project. He has also engineered sound for musicals such as A Chorus Line and Fiddler on the Roof.