In this edition we have news of current and upcoming Productions:

  • Ubu tours to Sao Paulo and Bogotá
  • Dream at the Barbican in London and tours to Hong Kong, USA & South Korea
  • Ouroboros presented in India
  • War Horse in Amsterdam, Berlin and UK Touring


  • Washington
  • San Francisco
  • London

Handspring Trust

  • Luyanda visits Bristol
  • Barrydale Parade

Ubu To Tour South America

Sao Paulo and Bogotá will present Ubu on their theatre festivals this year

15 & 16 March Sao Paulo
16 – 19 April Bogotá

William Kentridge’s Ubu and the Truth Commission is being revived with Janni Younge as Associate Director, led by original cast members Dawid Minnaar and Busi Zokufa with Gabriel Marchand, Mongi Mnthombeni and Mandiseli Maseti joining the team.

Ma Ubu (Busi Zokufa) holding Niles, the infamous document catcher

Photo: Ruphin Coudyzer

Ubu will have it’s first performances in Brazil and Colombia at The Sao Paulo International Theatre Festival (Mostra Internacional de Teatro de São Paulo) 15+16 March and the Iberoamerican Theater Festival 2014 Bogota, 16-19 April. Tours are planned for Europe, Asia and USA. To book this production for your theatre, kindly contact Sarah Ford at Quaternaire, Paris

The Constitutional Court has generously loaned the Dogs of War puppet to Handspring for the revival of Ubu and Truth Commission.

Dogs Of War, Constitutional Court, Pretoria

Photo: Ben Law-Viljoen, courtesy David Krut Publishing, Johannesburg

The puppet incorporates a suitcase given by Bram Fischer to William Kentridge’s father Sir Sidney Kentridge, in a gesture of gratitude for defending him during his trial as the leader of the South African Communist Party. Bram Fischer led Nelson Mandela’s legal defense team at the Rivonia Trial of 1963–1964.The Constitutional Court Trust owns and maintains an extraordinary collection of artworks to celebrate the Court’s role in the transition to democracy. The collection was primarily assembled by Justice Albie Sachs, who was appointed to the Court by Nelson Mandela in 1994 and retired in 2009.

Dream in London, Hong Kong, USA & South Korea

A Midsummer Night’s Dream continues to other cities

Till 15 February, Barbican Theatre, London, UK

21 Feb – 1 March Hong Kong City Hall, Hong Kong

6 – 15 March Cutler Majestic, ArtsEmerson, Boston, USA

20 – 23 March Eisenhower Theater, Kennedy Center City, Washington DC, USA

3 – 19 April The Broad Stage City, Los Angeles, USA

25-27 April The National Theater of Korea, Seoul, South Korea

Oberon played by David Ricardo Pearce

Photo: Simon Annand

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Handspring’s latest collaboration with Tom Morris, Artistic Director of the Bristol Old Vic, opened this week at the Barbican Theatre in London and runs till 15 February.

The show has been positively received at the Bristol Old Vic, Spoleto Festival USA and the Barbican. It tours to Hong Kong, the USA and Korea after London.

Watch the making of Dream
To Book Dream for your Theatre contact Catherine Morgenstern at the Bristol Old Vic

“A supremely inventive fist of Shakespeare’s ‘Dream’” – Daisy Bowie-Sell, Time Out London

“A haunting, off-kilter escapist delight. End-of-the-pier hysterical” – Giles Broadbent, The Wharf

“A more inventive, magical and creative production would be hard to find…Everything comes together seamlessly as the drama unfolds around them.. and it all fits together like one living, breathing theatrical organism.” – Danny Hilton, Londonist

“It’s a marvellously inventive approach, a glorious mixture of props, masks and puppets” – Maxwell Cooter – Whatsonstage

“Uniquely brilliant production…nothing like this experience can be found on land or sea…it is beyond my ability to sufficiently praise all the deserving performers by name..” – E. Kyle Minor, New Haven Register

“Incredible coup de my 26 years of reviewing I have never been as shocked as I was by the first sight of this miracle of machinery!” – Perry Tannenbaum, Spoleto Creative Loafing

Ouroboros in Mumbai

Handspring’s Ouroboros was warmly received at the World Puppetry Festival and completed a successful tour of Belgium and France where it played to consistently full houses and was enthusiastically received. We’d like to thank the NAC and the South Africa/France Season for their support. Ouroboros was also presented at the historic Bollywood Mehboob Studios in Mumbai in December last year. It was the first time the Handspring presented in India.

Jessica McCarthy, Mathew Lewis, Beren Belknap, Cindy Mkaza, Ncedile Daki, Nieke Lombard, Gabriel Marchand, Jason Potgieter, Alude Mahali, Janni Younge, Mannie Manim, Roshina Ratnam


“The production draws on the rare talent of the members of Handspring Puppet Company, with performers visible throughout. The “magic” effect of the movement of the puppets is developed with breathtaking mimicry, independently of the manipulators, and is complimented by their presence. The expressivity and intensity of their performance and of their handling brings soul and meaning to each action. We live all the adventures as if they are happening to us!

…Ouroboros, the ancient symbol representing the repetitive cycle of life places at the forefront the courage of the characters seen at three stages of life. African animals and the valuable use of shadow theatre carry the public, gently into the thoughts, dreams and fears of Andre and Nokobonisa: the heart that escapes and is offered, an evocation of death taking the loved old woman, fish flying over the family bed and though the Styx….To suffer, to love, to age and to start all over again.” – Par Irina Schrag, Poly Magazine Nov ‘13

Find out more

Three New War Horses

Holland Tour, Berlin, and the UK TOUR

The Holland Tour opens 15 June in AmsterdamBerlin & UK Tour

Ongoing: US Tour & London

Gefährten (War Horse) plays at Theatre des Westens, Berlin

The Dutch version of War Horse will open in Amsterdam on 15 June 2014 and will tour to 7 centres in Holland. In October last year the UK Tour opened to critical acclaim in Birmingham and at the same time the Berlin production opened with the German title Gefährten. Every seat was sold for the UK Tour‘s recently completed season in Edinburgh, where the production became the highest grossing production in the Festival Theatre’s 20-year history.War Horse has now been seen by over 4,7 million people worldwide. It passed it’s 2000th performance at the New London Theatre in Drury Lane earlier this year, where it continues to run. A major tour of North America continues through 2014. Basil & Adrian are due to visit the cast of this production when it performs in Fort Myers, Florida.

Joey celebrates the National Theatre’s 50th with Her Majesty in October 2013


Raw To Real: Carving Theatre

Installation by Handspring Puppet Company, Hall of Nations – Kennedy Center, Washington

10 – 30 March 2014

The Marching Band from Faustus in Africa

Photo: Ruphin Coudyzer

Raw to Real: Carving Theatre will showcase over 20 years of Handspring’s work. The exhibition is presented as part of the WORLD STAGES Festival. A special selection of puppets from some of Handspring’s most popular shows, including Woyzeck on the HighveldFaustus in AfricaThe Chimp ProjectTall Horse and War Horse.

Public Intimacy

Or You Could Kiss Me puppets exhibited – YBCA & SFMOMA, San Francisco

February 21 through June 29, 2014

Puppets from left: Mr A & Mr B

Puppeteers from left: Tommy Luther, Mervyn Millar, Basil Jones and Finn Caldwell Photo: Simon Annand

Jointly curated by the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)Public Intimacy: Art and Other Ordinary Acts in South Africa brings together 25 artists and collectives who disrupt expected images of a country known through its apartheid history. The exhibition features an arc of artists who look to the intimate encounters of daily life to express the poetics and politics of the ordinary act, with work primarily from the last five years as well as photographic works that figure as historical precedents. Handspring is represented with puppets from Or You Could Kiss MeMore on the play, Or You Could Kiss Me..

Joey at the V&A

National Treasure, War Horse star goes on permament display

Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The V&A announces the installation of Joey

On 17 October it was announced that Basil & Adrian had donated the original West End Joey to the Victoria and Albert Museum. The horse now has his own room in the museum and three handsome mannequins have been created to hold him in a realistic pose.The setting up of this exhibit involved a good deal of meticulous work by the model makers, 59 Productions, who installed the video, Rae Smith and Johanna Coe who saw to the costumes, David Cauchi and Alan Edwards who made sure that Joey looked his best. Read more about the acquisition…

Handspring Trust

Luyanda goes to Bristol

Luyanda Nogodlwana visits the Bristol Old Vic Young Company

Luyanda Nogodlwana is a puppet sculptor who has worked at Handspring Puppet Company in Cape Town on the puppets for War Horse for the National Theatre in London and is a co-founder of theMasiphumelele Youth Development theatre organization, where he serves on the board and as Artistic Director.Luyanda will be joining the award-winning Bristol Old Vic Young Company whilst they devise and workshop a new piece based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Tinderbox – a story of blood, magic, love and violence. The two intensive weeks will take place with young people during the UK school holidays.

Barrydale Parade & Performance 2013

The Handspring Trust / Net Vir Pret / Magpie Barrydale Parade coincided with Madiba’s funeral at the end of last year

This collaboration is fast becoming a much anticipated event on the Barrydale calendar. This time there were two puppet parades, each led by a life-size elephant puppet. The one parade started at the Barrydale Hotel and the other went through Smitsville. The two elephants met at the BF Oosthuizen School, where we carried the elephants into the playground and set up for the performance of the play.The play had been devised by Net Vir Pret’s Young Leaders and was centered on the rescue of a baby elephant from drowning by a mermaid. The story was set in a pool near Barrydale where mermaids are said to live.Making all this happen involves many people. In November, Jill Joubert (one of Handspring’s four founders) goes to Barrydale to teach the Young Leaders how to make the puppets and then they in turn teach the younger school children. Between 100 and 200 puppets are made in all, using discarded plastic bottles, plastic bags and the like. Meanwhile the guys at Magpie were busy making the sea out of similar materials as well as designing the tree which traditionally is lit at the end of the show and the following evening is the focus of the traditional tree lighting ceremony in the newly constituted Magpie’ public space.This year seven of the Young Leaders came to Cape Town to help in the making of the elephants, the mermaid and her mother, a large fish. Handspring Trust put them up at the Muizenberg Backpackers and they were able to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show on one of their free evenings. The elephants were designed by Andy Jones and Luyanda Nogodlwana and were a magnificent success: easy to manipulate and very lifelike and graceful. 
Carol and Gerald very kindly allowed Handspring to set up in their Karooltjie Kelder, where we completed the making of the giant puppets, again with the help of the Young Leaders at Net Vir Pret. In the afternoons we rehearsed the puppets on the werf outside. This was the two-week period prior to the march itself.Our major sponsor this year was the Blumberg Family Trust. Marcia and Henry Blumberg, who live and work in Toronto, had helped us to raise the funds by organising an illustrated talk which Adrian and Basil gave prior to the opening of War Horse in Toronto. This meant selling 200 premium tickets – a huge task achieved with great dedication of time by both Henry and Marcia, both of whom have very busy careers. Their son Sean helped with the sound and made a video recording of the talk. Sean’s untimely passing last year was a great great loss to the Blumberg family. Basil and Adrian personally dedicated their work on this parade to the memory of this sweet and generous man.