In 1969, Lily Herzberg established the first South African links with UNIMA. She travelled abroad and returned to South Africa with news of the innovative rod-puppet work being done in Eastern Europe, thus opening up a whole new area of direct-controlled puppets. She herself was a leading exponent of shadow and glove techniques. In 1972, she established the Puppet Space within Cape Town’s Space Theatre – the theatre that broke the apartheid era ban on non-racial performance. She continued the development of puppet plays with local themes and was a much-produced scriptwriter, during her lifetime.

Jill and Tony Fletcher mounted periodic marionette productions at the Nico Malan Theatre in Cape Town, centered on their loveable character, Mrs Em, in the early ‘70s, and in 1975 Keith Anderson teamed up with Toby van Eck for a countrywide tour of a new marionette production of Hans Anderson’s Little Mermaid. A year later, also in Cape Town, Gary Friedman founded The Royal Puppet Company, beginning a long and dynamic career.