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Thursday, January 28, 2016


Durban’s very first Family Theatre Puppet Festival, the Nandogam EcoVillage iKHO! Festival takes place at Seabrooke’s Theatre on February 26, 27 and 28. This exciting festival, which is supported by the National Arts Council and ASSITEJ SA, runs over three days and offers a feast of local puppet theatre productions with a strong ecological awareness theme.

Six productions make up the programme, starting on February 26 with Happy go Lucky’s Sunshine Babies, performed by Sibo Masondo and Mlu Ngidi. This is an Early Year’s play suitable for children from two upwards. The recipient of the Musho! 2016 Runner Up Audience Favourite Award, Sunshine Babies is a charming and lively production that holds children spellbound. Peter Court’s new Creative Madness production about water conservation, Drip Drop Drip, launches the festival and is aimed at families with older children.

On February 27, the programme includes Lucky Strike, an international award winning script by Gisele Turner which is a SA Grade 7 English setwork. This local drama, which features a marionette puppy and two large mouth puppets, follows the heartwarming story of the day in the life of a little township boy. It is performed by Mlu Ngidi, Makhosozana Mkhize, Kho Kwela and Mpume Mpembe, all members of the Community Theatre group Lashona Arts Creation from Luganda Township.

Lucky Strike will be followed by a free pop up rod puppet theatre Chippi and the Gang, written and directed by Gisele Turner and performed by Phillipa Savage. This comic piece, with loads of local characters, helps everyone understand where the household rubbish needs to go! The day finishes with Nandogran EcoVillage’s production Nstwaki’s Adventure, which features giant marionettes and tells the story of Ntswaki and his search for advice on sustainable living. With Puppet Master Laghu Hari Das, Mayapur Chandra and Ramashna Naidoo performing a wide range of exciting colourful characters, this show is suitable for children over eight years of age.

On February 28, there will be two performances of Blue Boy.  Inspired by the mystic stories of India, Blue Boy focuses on the joy of childhood’s innocent yet mischievous playfulness. With lifesize puppets handcrafted by Laghu Hari Das in the Japanese Bunraku tradition, this charming and engaging production engenders a love for natural living. The puppeteers are Laghu, Mlu Ngidi and Makhosozana Mkhize from Lashona Arts Creation.

NPC Nandagram EcoVillage promotes and tutors sustainable living and their iKHO! Festival is a vehicle to bring families together in the spirit of conservation and love for the planet and all its creatures.

The iKHO! Festival runs at Seabrooke’s Theatre from February 26 to 28. Tickets R35 available at the door with a portion of the proceeds being donated to Acting for Rhinos. Bookings and more information from Laghu on 079 633 3892.