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Financing Handspring Puppet Company

Basil Jones. African Theatre: 7 Companies, edited by Martin Banham. London: James Currey, 2008.

The longevity of any theatre company is dependent on two essential ingredients: continued artistic inspiration backed up by firm and flexible funding. When I was asked to contribute a piece to this issue of the Africa Theatre Series, I offered something on the financing of Handspring because this has been such a necessary aspect of our small company’s enduring success.

Puppetry is a rather eccentric career choice and we never expected to make money as such. Indeed we were often surprised when we did. What you will find below is a brief account of the changing ways in which Handspring has made a living over 25 years. I’d like to acknowledge the assistance of Estelle Randall, Tony Morphet and Nkosinathi Gaar, each of whom read this text and made valuable comments. Any errors it may contain are of course my own.