Friday February 5th marks the 40th anniversary for the Handspring Puppet Company, collaborators in the aesthetic endeavours of the CHR, most particularly as creative mentors to the Ukwanda Puppetry and Design Collective, as well as the Laboratory of Kinetic Objects (LoKO).
For the past ten years Handspring have been engaged with the CHR in the significant project in arts, puppetry and performance in the rural village of Barrydale. Their first collaboration with Professor Jane Taylor, A.W. Mellon Chair in Aesthetic Theory and Material Performance at the CHR was the production of Ubu and the Truth Commission, in 1996.
In their extraordinary career, they have won many distinctions for their artistry; and are perhaps most celebrated for their work designing and engineering the astonishing life-sized horse puppets for War Horse, an anti-war exploration, that also considers inter-species relationships. That production went on to become the most successful play in the history of the National Theatre, UK (who commissioned the work) and won an Olivier Award, the London Critics’ Circle Award, and the highly esteemed TONY AWARD, in addition to being performed in dozens of countries on most of the continents of the world. They are currently working together with Goodchance on a puppetry project on the predicament of refugees with a giant girl-child puppet, Little Amal who will make her way from the Syrian-Turkish border to Manchester, UK.
Handspring has been exemplary in its commitment to working across the continent from Mali to Botswana and across Southern Africa, and globally, and for this outstanding citizenship, as well as their artistry, they won the John F Kennedy Gold Medal For the Arts.
Handspring pioneered a ground-breaking performance aesthetic, leading an experiment in puppetry for adults, taking on themes around social justice, sexuality, colonialism, militarism and inter-species communication.
Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones have been outspoken advocates of LGBTQI rights and their marriage was a celebration of legal transformation in South Africa. Friday 5th February marks the 14th Wedding Anniversary of the two pioneering artists, Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones, who are at the helm of the company.