Handspring Puppet Company’s Artistic Profile
Handspring Puppet Company is widely recognized as South Africa’s pre-eminent puppet theatre company. The company’s work spans three decades of creating theatre for adults and children. Recently, the run-away hit play War Horse, produced by The Royal National Theatre in London, has established Handspring as one of the most important puppet companies in the world. This success has afforded the company the opportunity to further develop the art form we are so passionate about.
Handspring’s work has established its signature of artistic excellence through the use of finely crafted puppets within a live theatrical context. The marriage of the disciplines of Fine Art and Theatre is at the heart of the discipline of puppetry in general and Handspring’s work in particular. Founded and run by Fine Arts graduates, the artistry of the performing object has always been a priority for the company. The poetry, innate in the expressive and finely crafted objects, forms an integral part of the dramaturgy of the productions we create.
Theatre is always a collaborative process. We believe that a synthesis of disciplines and collaborative creation leads to some of the most exciting artwork. The multidisciplinary nature of puppetry has led Handspring to collaborate with some of the finest artists from South Africa and abroad. In the creation of the work Handspring seeks to draw in the skills of artists including musicians, sound designers, lighting designers, choreographers and, of course, the actors. The play of messaging between these different art forms creates a web of communication, each element as important as the last. In creative collaboration, Handspring always looks for the unique contribution of the medium of puppetry to the content of the production.
The content of the theatre Handspring creates varies greatly. Ranging from the lighthearted children’s theatre of the early days, to socially relevant political content, to the series of pieces with animals at the heart of their dramaturgies and to the personal and interpersonal dynamics of age and relationship, Handspring’s theatrical creations are marked by a our mission of producing excellence in the art of puppetry. Whether the content is drawn from external events or interior landscapes, what characterizes Handspring’s work is an honest emotional investment in the subject and a commitment to giving voice to our humanity.