In 2007, Handspring Puppet Company’s War Horse, based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo and commissioned by the 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, Adrian Kohler, Jill Joubert and Jon Weinberg 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 which opened in over 200 venues in South Africa and abroad.
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.