Profile: Hand Spring Puppet Company


Founded in 1981 by four graduates of the Michaelis School of Fine Art in Cape Town, this group is still run by two of the co-founders, Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones.

Originally set up to create shows for children, Handspring graduated to  adult audiences and has since become regarded as one of the greatest puppetry companies in the world, working with many South African directors including Malcolm Purkeyand Barney Simon as well as artist William Kentridge.

Handspring has performed at many international festivals including Edinburgh, the Avignon Festival, the Next Wave Festival at BAM in New York, The African Odyssey Festival at the Kennedy Centre in Washington, Theatre d’ Automne in Paris, Theatre der Welt in Germany, as well as in Hong Kong, Singapore, Adelaide, Zurich and Bogota.


With Thys Stander as the company’s chief puppet maker Handspring has won an Olivier Award, an Evening Standard Theatre Award and London Critics’ Circle Theatre Award. For the production of War Horse, the company has received an Outer Critics Circle Special Achievement Award for Puppet Design, Fabrication and Direction and they are also a recipient of the 2011 Special Tony Award.


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