The Centre for Humanities Research and partners Net vir Pret present the ninth annual Barrydale Giant Puppet Parade and Performance.
A highlight on the South African creative calendar for young and old alike, the parade and performance will take place on 15 December at 18:30 in the highly creative farming village of Barrydale on the famous Route 62 in the Klein Karoo. This inspiring event brings community performers together with leading artists from South Africa and around the world, offering a truly unique South African performance experience every year. The parade and performance combine inspirational large-scale puppetry, masks and puppets, local dance and music, and hundreds of young performers. This landmark public performance event is part of the Barrydale Arts Meander (BAM), organised by the award-winning Magpie Arts Collective, which is a feast of creativity in which many galleries and artists in the town open their doors to the public for the whole weekend.
This year’s parade titled The Final Spring will be using giant puppetry, original electro-acoustic musical compositions and fantastical masked creatures in a large-scale creative production exploring the concerns of our global climate crisis and the imminent threats of ecological disaster to our planet. The Final Spring weaves an electrifying story of survival and hope in an Afro-futuristic world after a planetary ecological catastrophe, which wipes out all of humanity. Leaving only the most resilient and quirky of insects to survive in the post-apocalyptic landscapes of the Klein Karoo, the last bees and plants become the greatest treasures of our dying planet. In recent weeks it has been reported that more than 6 million protestors around the globe, across time zones, cultures and generations, including thousands of school children, have joined in international movements calling for urgent action on the escalating ecological emergency facing the planet. As 350.org demonstration organiser May Boeve is reported as saying, “we will keep fighting until the politicians stop ignoring the science, and the fossil fuel companies are held responsible for their crimes against our future, as they should have been decades ago” (qtd in. Taylor, Watts and Bartlett). Activist Nick Lowles describes in another article how “although we think about climate breakdown as an environmental issue, for many people around the world its consequences will be felt as primarily social and political”.
The Final Spring invites us to imagine what the world will look like for our children and our children’s children, if humanity continues on their course of overuse and abuse of the planet and its resources. Journalist Astra Taylor also writes that “young people around the world recognise that the disastrous repercussions of the already present ecological crisis will fall disproportionately on their shoulders, and the shoulders of generations to come – in particular on those whose communities have emitted the smallest proportion of greenhouse gasses”. What will be left? In our story, it’s a giant, rusting pesticide machine and a curious visitor from another galaxy checking out the mess we’ve made! The Final Spring entices us to look at our planet through different eyes, from the micro view of insects, whom we mostly ignore, but who are left to clean up the consequences of our actions.
This unique annual public arts event is directed by CHR based puppetry artist and visual theatre maker Aja Marneweck with dramaturgy by Donna Kouter of Net vir Pret and assisted by puppetry directors Siphokazi Mpofu and Sipho Ngxola of Ukwanda Puppetry Arts and Design Company based in Cape Town. The production will showcase the latest puppet creations by Ukwanda’s Luyanda Nogodlwana. Performing amongst hundreds of puppets designed by Clarisa Jonas and created by local school learners through Net vir Pret, and under the mentorship of puppet maker Jill Joubert, an impressive cast of more than 150 performers will bring the story of The Final Spring to life. Original music for the production will be composed by local traditional music specialist and director, Peter Takelo, jazz musician Gary Crawford, and upcoming muso’s Dylan Hess and Selanvor Platjies.
The Final Spring was nominated at the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) 2022 Awards in the category of CREATIVE COLLECTIONS: BEST PUBLIC PERFORMANCE. The HSS Awards is an annual initiative run by the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS). The Barrydale 2020 production Reboot Eden also received an HSS nomination in 2022.
Nick Lowles, ‘The Climate Crisis Isn’t Just Causing Extreme Weather. It’s fuelling Extreme Politics, Too’ in The Guardian, 19 September 2019.
Astra Taylor, ‘Bad Ancestors: Does the Climate Crisis Violate the Rights of Those Yet to be Born?’ in The Guardian, 1 October 2019.
Matthew Taylor, Jonathan Watts, and John Bartlett, ‘Climate Crisis: 6 Million People Join Latest Wave of Global Protests’ in The Guardian, Fri 27 Sep 2019.