They’re here!

 -By Astrid Stark)

First published in the Cape Times – Top of the Times

Local and International artists are unleashing their weird and wonderful creations on Cape Town audiences during the annual Out the Box Festival.  The festival, which is now in its 5th year, is made up of a mélange of shows filled with crafty puppets, a film festival, visionary masks, moving objects, clowning, music and live performers.  A mini-conference focussing on women in visual performance, and workshops by groups such as our local Handspring Puppet Company, and Spanish and Canadian presentations, will be held.

Many of the adult performances use the power of performance art to comment on issues of belonging, identity, and dealing with loss and acceptance. The local Erf81 cultural collective is presenting a tragic comic production, Flowers for my Flesh, and as may be expected of the übereccentric Andre Laubscher and Peter van Heerden, this production promises to be as outrageous and provocative as their previous Out the Box showings.  Those who missed Gaëtan Schmid’s much-admired Rumpsteak will have another opportunity to do so.  More local productions include the funky FTH:K’s Afro-Gothic puppet and clowning production, Quack!, for which Janni Younge has picked up a 2009 Fleur du Cap nomination for her work on the masks, along  with two other nominations in the category Best Prop and Puppetry Design. 

Yawazzi Productions will show Man Turn Life up & Down.  It is what they call ‘an animated comic-book in homage of West African pop literature’. The story is told entirely through projections.  “We are working on a new type of performance, and this is our first such attempt, so it is perfect for a visual and boundary-pushing festival such as Out the Box,” says Yawazzi’s Sanjin Muftic. “We also want to see how audiences respond to our new show and how we can develop it before the next festival in Grahamstown.”

Mandla Mbothwe and Mwenya Kabwe’s 27 Windows, 4 Doors & 2 Taps promises to be a provocative sound and image feast, and Mothertongue Project will present, Tseleng, the Baggage of Bags, which tells the tale of a journey through the nomadic life of fragmentation and sculpted identity.

Some of the international artists include Duda Paiva from the Netherlands with Angel and Edna Jaime from Mozambique with her work, (Eu) peca de terra-II.  From Israel comes Tranquila which will feature puppetry and circus arts.  It will also be the production to be shown during Out the Box’s official opening night on 22 March.

Few things can grab a child’s imagination the way puppets and clowning do. The Family Festival Shows will leave kids spoilt for choice. In local productions such as Offer, a feather duster-seller uses an assembly of feather dusters to battle global warming; sky children journey to earth in the production of Rain; and a man with a mutant best friend and a robot girlfriend survives a nuclear fallout in Lenny and the Wasteland.  International children’s productions such as Papelixo from Brazil, and Oruk from Sweden – which tells an Inuit tale about a shell that gets legs and turns into a boy – promises kids a glimpse into faraway cultures and traditions of story-telling.

The Moving Things Film Festival will showcase a selection of stop motion and puppetry films at the Labia Cinema on Orange Street. Highlights include Robyn Yannoukos’ 2008 Student Academy Award winning film, Alice’s Attic; a collection of short films with a dark, organic aesthetic by the Mexican collective DiezyMedia; and the documentary, Making War Horse which is about bringing the Handspring Puppet Company’s puppets to life.   Zapiro’s controversial ZANEWS, filled with scathing political satire, will also do a wicked turn at the festival’s film circuit.   The Moving Things Film Festival is co-ordinated by Jacqueline van Meygaarden.

Professional and amateur puppeteers and performance artists can choose from a variety of workshops that will aim to educate and enlighten on topics such as puppetry, masks and animation. Mechanics of Emotion and The Philosophy of Breath will be presented by the Handspring Puppet Company. Objects and Imagination by Koldobika G. Vio from Spain, and Playing with Masks by Laen Hersler from Canada, are among some of the International workshops that will be presented.

Active Puppets Proactive training and development programme will showcase selected short pieces as part of the, Active Showcase, with works created especially for the festival. And Iqonga,  Unima’s platform for experimentation in visual performance, features short form works by new and emerging theatre makers.

Quack will be performing at Out The Box, photol by Clare Louise Thomas

Quack will be performing at Out The Box, photol by Clare Louise Thomas

UNIMA SA’s Out The Box Festival of Puppetry and Visual Performance is directed by Janni Younge and artistic director Jaqueline  Dommisse.

The festival runs from 20 to 28 March at the Baxter Theatre, UCT Hiddingh Campus and Labia Cinema. Tickets cost from R30 to R50. Special offers for block bookings of ten or more. Schools’ packages are available. Tickets for the Moving Things Film Festival at the Labia cost R20. To book, call 021 424 5927. For the full programme and more information see, or call 021 462 5811.




Inua - Baba Yaga  a production from the Netherlands

Inua - Baba Yaga a production from the Netherlands


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