Puppets in Action: Theory, Practice, and Possibilities
The CHR warmly congratulates Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler of the Handspring Puppetry Company on receiving honorary doctorates from the University of Toronto.
Basil and Adrian co-founded the Handspring Puppet Company in 1981, and their influence on puppetry worldwide has been huge. Handspring designed and constructed the life-sized horse puppets for the musical War Horse and was involved in the design of Little Amal. Beyond these major productions, Handspring has provided critical support and inspiration for the Ukwanda Puppet and Design Company, the resident puppetry company at the CHR, and have produced a number of productions linked to the CHR. These include Ubu and the Truth Commission (written by Jane Taylor and directed by William Kentridge), which visited CanStage in Toronto in 2015. This production was a powerful impetus for the Mellon-funded project, Aesthetic Education: A South-North Dialogue (2016-2020) which connected scholars through the Jackman Humanities Institute (JHI) and the Centre for Humanities Research at the University of the Western Cape.
The partnership between the CHR and Handspring includes a twelve years collaboration with Net vir Pret arts education CBO in the rural town of Barrydale to develop an annual giant puppetry parade; an endeavour that has brought more than eighty school leavers associated with the partnership into institutions of Higher Education across the province, including UWC.
To mark their Honorary Doctorates the JHI will host a series of events in early June. On 7 June Basil Jones, Adrian Kohler and Professor Lawrence Switzky (UTM English and Drama) will provide a scholarly look at Handspring Puppet Company’s development and effects in a public panel discussion. And, on 8 June, the University of Toronto will recognize the accomplishments of Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler with honorary doctorates, and Little Amal will visit the University of Toronto and Sick Kids Hospital.