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Sunday, December 27, 2009


First full-length book on Handspring Puppet Company explores their work in adult puppet theatre.

In 2007, Handspring Puppet Company’s War Horse - based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo and commissioned by the Royal National Theatre in London - won Olivier, Evening Standard and Critics’ Circle Awards. The extraordinary success of this production has drawn attention to Handspring’s decades-long experiments and innovations in the art of puppetry and their remarkable contribution to theatre in South Africa.

Handspring Puppet Company was founded by Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler in 1981. They have produced 11 plays and two operas, collaborated with many different artists, including Mali’s Sogolon Puppet Troupe and South African artist William Kentridge and opened in over 200 venues in South Africa and abroad. They have won numerous accolades, including an Olivier Award for War Horse at the Royal National Theatre in London.

Handspring Puppet Company is the first full-length book on Handspring published in South Africa. It explores their work in adult puppet theatre, from Episodes of an Easter Rising (1985) to War Horse, providing insights into their philosophy of puppetry and their technical innovations. It is richly illustrated with images from the Handspring archive and includes essays by theatre practitioners and writers who have collaborated with the company over the years.

Handspring Puppet Company is edited by Jane Taylor, with essays by Jane Taylor, Adrienne Sichel, Adrian Kohler, William Kentridge, Gerhard Marx, Lesego Rampolokeng and Basil Jones. It is published in full colour by David Krut Publishing in soft cover (R480 - ISBN 978-0-9814328-3-0) and hard cover (R650 - ISBN 978-0-9814328-5-4)

In support of this project, William Kentridge has made two limited-edition prints based on his work with Handspring. These are available from David Krut Projects. Contact Bronwyn Law-Viljoen in Johannesburg on +27 (0)11 334 1209, or Genevieve Lowe in New York on +1 212 255 3094, or visit

(Watch this space for forthcoming review)