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Handspring Puppet Collaboration

Handspring Puppet Company is a world-renowned group of performers, based in South Africa. In the past year Handspring Trust has initiated projects that will draw on the resources of the company to increase access to the arts and performance for historically disadvantaged young South Africans. This    is being developed across several different platforms.One ongoing project is to provide arts education to children within the Western Cape village of Barrydale. Handspring Trust is funding a small team of experienced arts educators to train facilitators and teachers within that community. The training project is taking place in several intensive workshops in Barrydale. Here we are working with Peter Tokela and the NGO "Net Vir Pret", an after-school initiative that provides arts encounters for children in the farm schools around Barrydlale.

 Barrydale has a very high foetal alcohol rate; and we also believe that the transmissions of puppetry skills, and the care for puppets, can help in developing practices of nurture and responsibility in young adults. It has been well established that work with dolls develops particular kinds of imaginative projection; and work with puppets makes particular kinds of psychological growth possible.

We have established links with Royal Holloway (London University) as well as Berkeley and Yale theatre departments in order to attract young international scholars into a dialogue with this region. We are busy establishing links with the broader university community, and this past year had visiting puppetry scholars from Iran, Argentina, Spain and Mocambique who presented papers at a small conference that I curated for the Out the Box Puppetry Festival in Cape Town. That Festival is sponsored and managed by UNIMA South Africa; and we are happy to be partners in this initiative.


Jane Taylor

CEO Handspring Trust

Mellon Senior Research Advisor, CHR, UWC.