All posts filed under: Collaborations

The Tempest Puppets

Overview Set on a fictitious island off the coast of Africa, this Royal Shakespeare Company production of The Tempest interpreted the text from a post-colonial perspective, reading into the role of Prospero and Caliban the power dynamics of oppression. I created the tempest puppets to capture some of the more magical characters and qualities in this most magical of Shakespeare’s plays. Tempest Puppets The enchantment of the island is captured in the doings of the spirits and made concrete in the form of puppets, masks and props. Forces, spirits, the seemingly ‘inexplicable’ are carried in on the wind from all across the continent. In creating the piece we drew on images from animistic and ancestral traditions from various parts of Africa. In working with this eclectic African aesthetic we aimed to evoke the power of these traditions rather than illustrating any culturally specific rituals or objects. The Gardian (UK) gave the production 5 stars and said of it: “…brilliant…combines racial politics with visual playfulness in a way that liberates this all-too-familiar play” Credits Producer: Royal …

War Horse Puppets in ‘Horse Life’

Horse Life was originally created for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. Featuring Joey and Topthorn, the lead puppets from War Horse, the production captures the energy and life of horses interacting in a pastoral environment. Set in the countryside, day breaks and Topthorn stands alone in a field. Joey is ridden into the field an let loose with Topthorn. The horses confront each other in a battle for dominance and when the appropriate hierarchy has been established between then they settle down to graze. A storm builds in the afternoon and the horses run wild as thunder and lightning break about them. Finally in the evening they are able to show each other affection as the storm clears and the sun sets. Horse Life brings the complex vitality of the larger than life horse puppets to the stage in a simple portrait of animal life. Credits Produced by Janni Younge Productions with the Handspring Puppet Company’s War Horse puppets. Directors Craig Leo and Janni Younge Puppet Design Adrian Kohler of Handspring Puppet Company Lighting …

Ubu and the Truth Commission

Ubu and the Truth Commission combines puppetry, performance by live actors, music, animation and documentary footage. The play is based on the hearings of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and on a 19th century licentious slob – Ubu Roi – created in 1888 by the French playwright, Alfred Jarry, when he was still a student. In this production Ubu is a policeman for whom torture, murder, sex and food are all variations of a single gross appetite. Creative Team Production Handspring Puppet Company with Art Bureau (Munich), Kunstfest (Weimar), Migros Kulturprozent (Switzerland), Niedersächsisches Staatstheater Hannover, The Standard Bank National Arts Festival, the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology and the Market Theatre Foundation. Director William Kentridge Associate Director Janni Younge Writer Jane Taylor Animation William Kentridge Assistant Animators Tau Qwelane, Suzie Gable, Choreography Robin Orlin Puppet design and direction Adrian Kohler Music Warrick Sony, Brendan Jury TRC research Antjie Krog Lighting design Wesley France Sound design Wilbert Schubel Film editor Catherine Meyburgh Cast Dawid Minnaar, Busi Zokufa, Basil Jones, Adrian Kohler, Louis Seboko

midsummer nights dream

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

“Eerily beautiful… irresistibly funny”The Times In their first collaboration since the internationally acclaimed War Horse, Bristol Old Vic’s Artistic Director Tom Morris and Cape Town’s Handspring Puppet Company reunite for an inventive new take on Shakespeare’s romantic comedy of love triangles, fairies, and kings. In this production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the story focuses on transformation, survival, and song, where a belief in the mystical presence of fairies isn’t superstition, but a magic lore encoded in the routines of a community living on the edge. Thanks to visionary staging and the genius of Handspring, the Bard’s young lovers are sometimes human and sometimes puppets, the mischievous Puck takes a different form every time he appears, and workshop tools, wooden blocks, and other found objects come to life. “In this Midsummer, it’s not just the lovers, foes and fairies who are spellbound. Trees, objects and tools all pulse and tingle with the possibility of existence in a future primitive world where, thanks to the magic of Handspring Puppet Company alongside a brilliant company of actors, …



Hearts and Eyes Theatre Collective use the most incredibly expressive puppets designed by Janni Younge to tell the story of Sadako Sasaki.Steve Kretzmann, Artsblog Sadako Sasaki was two years old when the atom bomb was dropped on her hometown of Hiroshima on the 6 August 1945. She survived one of modern history’s most devastating events only to die ten years later from what was then known as “the atom bomb disease”, leukemia. During her illness she began folding origami paper cranes, evoking the Japanese legend that states if you fold one thousand cranes, you will be granted a wish. Sadako’s first wishes of health and long life were not granted. The play Sadako is a call to audiences to honour her final wish for peace in our world. Director: Jaqueline Dommisse Author: Peter Hayes Puppet Design and construction: Janni Younge Set: Illka Louw Costume Design: Hillette Stapelberg Lighting Design: Paul Abrams Sound Design: Uebu Jemasu “moving beyond words” Chris Roper, Mail & Guardian “My fest favourite was Sadako, which… uses puppetry, beautiful design and history …

The Fire Raisers

The Fire Raisers brings together the Swiss Playwright Max Frisch’s witty text with a Brechtian chorus sung under the musical direction of Neo Muyanga, Spirale’s choral expertise and Magnet’s unique physical imagery. The production explores with incendiary effect the consequences that face a world in which the gap between rich and poor widens daily. Written in 1968 in Switzerland as a response the rise of fascism in Europe the play works in South Africa today as a timely reminder that reconciliation based on political compromise and simple calls for racial harmony will always remain fragile if we ignore the social economic and cultural exclusion and injustice experienced by so many in our country, an exclusion that gives rise to so much of the culture of violence that surrounds us. The chorus of puppets for The Fire Raisers were developed as a group of municipal city workers, alive in their everyday duties yet with constructed ‘work’ identities. They are individual people of the city but as firemen they are unified in their role and way they …

Pictures of You

Pictures of You is a nostalgic tale of love, fear and darkness, conveyed with insensate masks and extremely able maskers. “The challenge of sustaining a work with no verbal dialogue, without the facility of labile facial expression and with a story that hinges on mystery and taboo is not an easy feat. The three collaborators who have created this stunningly impressive work really do deserve a full season on the boards. This is a play which attempts to slice open its own red herrings, chops to tail, and explore them with a freneticism that is mesmerising.” My View by Robyn Sassen “Janni Younge’s beautiful and haunting masks, which form a visual and emotional focal point, appear to have a life of their own. It was as if the masks were playing the accomplished actors Liezl de Kock and Dorian Burstein as much as they were playing the masks.” Marianne Thamm: Cape Theatre Credits Producer: FTH:K Director: Rob Murry Masks and puppet design and construction: Janni Younge Original music and sound: James Webb Awards Winner: Best …

quack masks janni younge


Quack! is an Afro-gothic fantasy – a visual tale of clown noir and dodgy deeds. A man lies dying in hospital, lost in fever and seemingly unknown illness. In his delirium, he fantasises himself away into a parallel universe, where the roles are reversed and he is a figure of substantial power. Part quack doctor, part motivational speaker, part politician, and part alchemist, he travels the land spreading his sermon of pop psycho-babble and other homilies. With the aid of his long-suffering assistant, and the dour presence of a number of acolytes, he builds up hope and expectation within his audience, and then harvests that hope, extracting from it the very essence of people’s dreams. ‘Amazingly expressive and evocative masks”Artsblog Credits Producer: FTH:K Director: Rob Murry, Masks: Janni Younge Music and Sound Design: James Webb *Mask design nominated for a Fleur du cap Award

Odd Experiments

This piece was a site-specific experimentation with dripping water, baking bread, performers hanging upside down and giant burning houses. Odd Experiments evoked a world where domesticity has gone awry and human activity is simply a cog in a chain of bazaar and senseless activity. Producer: Odd Enjinears Director: Mark O’Donnavan, Created and performed by the team including Janni Younge, TEN2ONE An ever-transforming mechanical and musical musical environment surrounding obsessive characters caught in relationships of domination and power play. Producer: Odd Enjinears Director: Mark O’Donnavan, Created and performed by the team including Janni Younge,


A visual interpretation of the classic novel by Swift, Guliver takes its audiences on a poetic journey to encounter the strange and wonderful beings that populate Guliver’s travels. Using Bunraku style puppets, giants, shadow theatre and several other techniques, this is theatre experience that will transport you into Guliver’s journey and delight the senses. Credits A Kilkis Puppet Company production. Directors: Victoria Marinez and Janni Younge. Puppets designed and construction: Janni Younge.