Come move mountains at the Barrydale annual giant puppet parade and performance, Saturday 16 December 2023 at the Barrydale Sports Ground Dahlia Avenue Barrydale.
Moving Mountains is a public puppetry parade and performance happening on the 16 December 2023 in Barrydale in the Klein Karoo. The annual puppetry event is a much anticipated feature of the longstanding partnership between Net Vir Pret in Barrydale and the Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape This year’s performance is directed by Sudonia Kouter and created in collaboration with CHR artists, Luyanda Nogodlwana, Sipho Ngxola and Siphokazi Mpofu of the Ukwanda Puppet Company. Moving Mountains is the 14th production of the annual Barrydale Giant Puppet Parade which takes place every year around Reconciliation Day and which for the past decade has been one of the leading puppetry events in South Africa.
The annual giant puppet parade and performance was originally created between The Handspring Trust for Puppetry Arts, The Centre for Humanities Research at UWC, Net vir Pret and the Magpie Arts Collective around the Day of Reconciliation, as a yearlong process of aesthetic education in puppetry, research and material performance between rural and urban publics, environments and participants. Through the years the annual parade and performance in Barrydale has brought together artists, scholars, researchers and publics not only from across Barrydale and Cape Town, but nationally and internationally as well.
Moving Mountains takes the impulse of transforming spaces and spaces of transformation, of moving the immovable, as its guiding thematic and creative concern. It draws inspiration from the elemental force of mountains, directly or symbolically, gesturing to the mountains that surround the Tradouw Valley (Tradouw which in San means the ‘footpaths of the women’) and form a significant part of the living imaginaries, heritage and herstory of the valley in which Barrydale exists. Through puppetry, movement and music, something as immense as a mountain, might be set in motion. It is said that to move a mountain is to attempt the impossible but through this project, the artists attempt to question society and the many mountains it manifests. Through the creative art of giant puppetry we ask, what mountains do we face today and where do we wish to move them? The piece draws inspiration from the reimagined life and story of Koos Sas, a sheep rustler from the early 1900’s in the Klein Karoo, who was accused of murder and then, without trial, was hunted down through South Africa, eventually being shot in Springbok in the Northern Cape in 1922. Sas, whose bodily remains were put on display in the Montagu Museum, is regarded locally as a hero and a symbol of resistance to the devastations of colonial subjection. Immersing in the imagined journeys of Sas through the landscapes of the mountains, directly or symbolically, the project gestures to the mountains that surround the Tradouw Valley, using puppetry and metaphor, to explore the relationship between Sas, the landscapes and creatures he encounters along the journey and within the psychic and physical landscapes of the Tradouw, raising questions about freedom and knowledge, ownership and justice, access and exclusion.
This year’s production showcases brand new puppet creations including a giant leopard by the CHR based award-winning Ukwanda Puppet Company. Performing amongst hundreds of puppets designed by Clarisa Jonas and created by local school learners through Net Vir Pret, with puppetry and set design and making by Herman Witbooi, an impressive cast of more than 150 performers will bring the story of Koos Sas in Moving Mountains to life. Original music for the production will feature compositions by Peter Takelo as well as Garth Erasmus.
The annual puppet parade and production, Moving Mountains will be performed on Saturday 16 December. The parade of this year’s puppets kicks off at 6pm outside of the Karoo Art Hotel in Van Riebeeck Street Barrydale and progresses to The Sports Grounds on Dahlia street for the full production at 7pm.
Moving Mountains is proudly supported by the National Arts Council of South Africa, the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS), and The Centre for Humanities Research at the University of the Western Cape.