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.
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”
Producer: Royal Shakespeare Company and the Baxter Theatre Centre
Director: Janice Honeyman
Puppets: Design, construction and choreography by Janni Younge
Music: Neo Muyanga
Starring: John Kani and Anthony Sher
Puppet design nominated for a Fleur du Cap Award