Archive: Issue No. 85, September 2004

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Handspring Puppet Company

Handspring Puppet Company
Still Photograph from Tall Horse Performance
The Giraffe Puppet

Malian Puppet

Malian Puppet
Courtesy of the Yaya Coulibaly Family Collection

The Handspring Puppets spring to life
by Kresta Tyler Johnson

This September the Handspring Puppet Company will launch the collaborative performance 'Tall Horse' with Mali's Sogolon Puppet Troupe and the dancer and choreographer Koffi K�k� from Benin. This new production promises the traditional fanfare associated with any Handspring Puppet performance.

The main character, a five metre tall giraffe, will be manipulated by two puppeteers on stilts with the primary set being a store room replete with both ordinary and extraordinary objects that come to life through the manipulation of the store room attendants' expert puppetry skills.

The story tells the tale of a giraffe that was captured in Sudan and travelled across the River Nile and the Mediterranean Sea to be presented as a gift to the King of France. After spending the winter in Marseilles, in the spring of 1827 the giraffe made his final journey by walking to Paris and creating quite a stir along the way. The story of his incredible adventure is told by the giraffe's keeper Atir. It is argued by some that the giraffe was the inspiration for the iconic Eiffel Tower.

Coinciding with the upcoming production is an exhibition of traditional Malian puppets that come from the puppet master Yaya Coulibaly's family collection. The play, 'Tall Horse' utilises the ancient tradition of Bambara puppetry from Mali, but reinterprets it in a contemporary manner.

Master classes are being offered during rehearsals from the end of July to the beginning of September. The play will open on September 10 in Cape Town at the Baxter Theatre. From there it will travel to Pretoria and Johannesburg before going on to international venues in Mali, the US and Europe.

For further information visit