Handspring Puppet Company

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 eleven 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.

In support of this project, William Kentridge has made two limited-edition prints based on his work with Handspring. Please view them here.

Edited by Jane Taylor, with essays by Jane Taylor, Adrienne Sichel, Adrian Kohler, William Kentridge, Gerhard Marx, Lesego Rampolokeng and Basil Jones
Soft cover
280 pages
250 photographs
ISBN: 978-0-9814328-3-0
Price: $60