29 August 2011

A Successful Opening!

Ouroboros @ OutTheBox

After Cardenio – Jane Taylor @ Out the box

Woyzeck @ BITE Charleville Meziers, Bolzano, Budapest, Cardiff, Belfast, Coventry, Aberstywyth, Truro, Exeter and Oxford

 Making WarHorse to screen @ Out the Box

It’s a busy time for Handspring with local productions, events at Out The Box, the ever expanding War Horse and Woyzeck going on tour in Europe.
Don’t miss After Cardenio, written and directed buy Jane Taylor CEO of the HandspringTrust. Ouroboros is on at Out The Box for just 2 days on Sunday the 4 and Monday the 5th. Handspring is also doing a number of other things at Out The Box including Iqonga, The Handspring Awards for Puppetry and two hands-on workshops. We look forward to seeing you around many of these exciting events coming up in the next two weeks.

At Out The Box Festival of Puppetry and Visual Performance

Out The Box (3-11 Sept 2011) is South Africa’s premiere puppetry event. This year the festival is hosting 55 productions including international productions from 15 countries! Handspring is proud to be associated with several events on the festival, detailed below. For the full festival program visit www.outtheboxfestival.com. Booking through Computicket.

After Cardenio
This is a new work of puppet theater that arises from a commission by the world-renowned Renaissance scholar Stephen Greenblatt, who has charged a dozen playwrights around the world to make versions of a so-called “missing” Shakespeare play, Cardenio. Literary historians presume that the play originally explored the character “Cardenio” from Cervantes’ Don Quixote. The new work thus engages with the great traditions of the novel and the play in the West while making a piece of contemporary puppet theatre.
Writer/Director Jane Taylor winds the plot around a story from the archive about a girl who was hanged for infanticide in Oxford, and who resuscitated when her body was given over to surgeons for an Anatomy at the University. The play is a meditation the Body/Soul split and it seeks to expand the dialogue onstage between the puppet and the puppeteer.
After Cardeniois on in the Anatomy Theatre, Hindingh Campus UCT, at 8pm 25, 26, 27, 29, 30 Aug, 1, 2 Sep, and at Out The Box Sat 3/9 @14h00; Sun 4/9 @ 14h00 and on5/9 @ 21h00, booking through Computicket.

Another chance to catch Ouroboros in Cape Town if you missed it at the Baxter in June…or if you loved it so much you want to see it again!
Created by Janni Younge, Handspring’s Associate Director and 2010 Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner for Theatre,  Ouroboros is a tale of dreaming and the cycles of life. At its heart, it is a love story between a dancer and a poet finding the courage to commit.
Using the unique transforming powers of the puppetry medium, the two characters are able to appear as several versions of themselves.
In its recent run at the Baxter Ouroboros received outstanding reviews including 4* in Die Burger and Argus.

“Sometimes even the seasoned theatre-goers get to be surprised, elated and dazzled by the performance less expected…(I) encountered such brilliance at Ouroboros.” – Emily Gambade, Daily Maverick

Based on the work of US poet laureate Billy Collins the production is set to original music by Neo Muyanga and Eppelsource with choreography by Mamela Nyamza and lighting by Mannie Manim. Ouroboros is not to be missed!
4 shows only on 2 days: Sun4/9 @15h30 and 19h30 and Mon 5/9 @11h00 and 20h00, booking through Computicket.

Iqonga is a once off performance featuring seven brand new puppetry works of 12 minutes each. Handspring is producing Iqonga 2011 in association with UNIMA SA at the Out The Box Festival.  The project aims to encourage experimentation with puppetry by artists who might otherwise not work in that medium. Audiences can expect to see the weird, wonderful and completely wacky.  Distant planets, quirky crows, deadly sins and a puppet talking about the ups and downs of life as a puppet… all in one show!  This year participants include: Mwenya Kabwe; Hearts and Eyes Theatre Collective; Handspring Puppet Company; Jungle Theatre Company; The Instant Arts Collective; Yawazzi Theatre Productions and others. Iqonga explodes onto the Little Theatre stage @ 20h00 on Sat 10 September.
Don’t miss this once-off big bang, booking through Computicket.

The Handspring Awards for Puppetry
Very few awards exist specifically for puppetry. In 2010, Handspring launched the first such awards in this country. Handspring committed to the awards being exclusive to productions at Out The Box for the first 3 years in order to encourage the important platform for puppetry that the festival represents. Established to encourage the art form in Africa, the awards are a project of The Handspring Trust (more about the Trust below).
Each prize is valued at R7,000 and the first four categories are awarded only to African companies. The Best Puppet Production award is open to all productions showing on the festival, including those from beyond the African continent. The panel of judges faces a daunting task this year as there are about 60 shows to see!

Handspring Workshops
Hidden Life: An Alchemy of Objects is an exploration into materiality and the fundamental principles of puppetry.  Facilitated by Jason Potgieter, participants will work with pre-sculpted materials in a hands-on process as they learn about the art and science of puppet manipulation. Wed 7/9, 14h00-18h00.

Accessing Bunraku-Style Puppetry: Bunraku is a form of Japanese puppetry where 3 visible manipulators control one puppet. In this workshop participants will learn the essentials of constructing a Bunraku-style puppet. Participants will learn the basics of manipulating this form of puppet, learning to work together to create life. Thurs 8/9, 10h00-14h00.

Handspring Films
Moving Things is the stop-motion and puppetry film program at Out The Box. As part of the 2011 line up Moving Things is screening what they call Handspring, A Celebration.  The films will include the Making of War Horse, The Puppet Factory(about the building of the horse puppets), the TED talk given by Basil and Adrian as well as a short clip of Handspring receiving the Tony Award. Basil Jones will be talking at the screening on Sat 3/9 at 12h00.

Thinking Out The Box
Jane Taylor of The Handspring Trust has curated the Out The Box conference, which encourages scholarly thinking and critical debate around puppetry and related questions. The day and a half of talks and conversations (Thurs 8/9 and sun 11/9) bring together topics ranging from puppetry and its therapeutic applications to puppets in post-metaphysics and a talk by Zapiro on the use of puppetry in political satire.

Our Puppet Factory
The 14 craftspeople who make up the puppet making team in the Handspringworkshop have just completed their third set of War Horse puppets. They are destined for the Toronto production of the show and will depart for Canada on 1st September with some fanfare. We are expecting quite a turnout of dignities and local children who will witness Topthorn walk up the ramp and into the bowls of the sea container mounted on a large truck. As it pulls away, we’ll be setting off 30,000 firecrackers and drinking a toast to a safe 15,350 km journey to Canada via London. (London is where the harnesses and saddles are added.)

The building of the Toronto set of War Horse puppets has been so much more efficient than ever before. We have Jessica Mias and Andy Jones’ excellent scheduling work to thank for that. We’re happy to see how well Luyanda Nogodlwana has come on as a creator of horse heads. This is cane bending at a very high level of artistry and a far cry of simple knotting and binding which is where he started two years ago. Newer members, Philip Roberts and Christian Johnson are showing steady promise in the profession, with Kyle Daniels and Ncedile Daki soaring beyond all expectation. Each production of War Horse includes four full horses, four half horses a foal, six soldier puppets, a goose, two crows and four swallow puppets. Each build is a great achievement, met with skill, enthusiasm and pride. One could not ask for a better team to work with.

Handspring Trust
The Handspring Trust is committed to developing puppetry through encouraging new work, promoting critical thinking around the art form and developing new skills amongst school children and young adults, particularly in Barrydale.

Puppetry scholarship: This year marked a significant new engagement with puppetry within the world of scholarship. A major conference was held at the University of Connecticut, and members of Handspring gave papers here and at a follow-up conference at the Segal Centre in New York. Basil Jones, Adrian Kohler and Jane Taylor spoke at the journal Cabinet in New York; and Kohler and Jones gave a public lecture at the New School. As a result of this international conversation, the conference at the Out the Box Festival (curated by Jane Taylor) has in 2011 attracted scholars from around the world.

Barrydale youth project:The 5-day June Puppetry workshop in Barrydale was a great success. Led by Handspring founder member and longstanding associate of the company Jill Joubert, the workshop combined drama, puppetry and music and the participants were facilitators working with Net Vir Pret under the leadership of Peter Tokela. Two more workshops are planned for later in the year culminating in the lighting of the Christmas Tree festival on the evening of the Day of Reconciliation on 16th December, organized by Magpie, Barrydale’s highly respected arts collective who’s found plastic chandeliers are to be found in Barak and Michelle Obama’s private Apartments in the White House.


Woyzeck on the Highveld
1st September sees the departure of the Woyzeck company for their final tour for 2011. They’ll be starting out at the Barbican Theatre’s BITE Festival in London, then on to Charleville-Mézières, forthe 50th Anniversary of their International Festival of Puppetry. (Janni Younge will be attending the whole festival.)  Other cities on the tour will be Rome, Budapest, Coventry, Belfast, Cardiff, Aberystwyth, Truro, Exeter and Oxford. Charleville-Mézières  is a very sentimental gig for us as it will be the first time we return to this city since our first ever international appearance which was in 1985.
Our Woyzeck company is made up of Hamilton Dhlamini, Wesley France,  Nkosinathi Gaar, Bruce Koch, Simon Mahoney (now based in Sweden), Jason Potgieter, Mncedisi Shabangu, Busi Zokufa, The company is directed by Luc De Witt who lives in Brussels and is William Kentridge’s assistant director.

War Horse
The West End and Broadway versions of War Horse continue to play to packed houses. A third production, destined for the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto, will soon be in rehearsal and opens on 28 Feb 2012.
Topthorn, one of the new Toronto puppets for War Horse, will make his first presentation in South Africa this year, at the Business Day BASA Awards, ahead of his departure for Toronto. Craig Leo from South Africa, Mikey Brett from the UK and Tommy Luther from Canada will be his puppeteers.