June 7, 10:00 AM
Innis College Town Hall, 2 Sussex Avenue
Start the festival off with a panel discussion between the creators of Little Amal, Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler, moderated by Professor Lawrence Switzky (UTM English and Drama). This insightful conversation will provide a scholarly look at Handspring Puppet Theatre’s development and effects on the practice of puppetry. Basil Jones will address the theoretical basis for puppetry in critics such as Derrida, Merleau-Ponty, Deleuze, and Grosz. Adrian Kohler will highlight the technical innovations that have made Handspring’s later work with giant puppets possible. And Lawrence Switzky will consider their past and present work to discover what can be learned from Handpsring, particularly as their art engages mastery, agency, compassion, the animal, and our relationship to technology.
Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler co-founded the Handspring Puppet Company in 1981, and their influence on puppetry worldwide has been huge. Handspring designed and constructed the life-sized horse puppets for the musical War Horse and was involved in the design of Little Amal. But beyond these major productions, Handspring has produced a number of pieces that tackled issues of social injustice in South Africa, such as Episodes of an Easter Rising and Ubu and the Truth Commission (written by Jane Taylor and directed by William Kentridge), which visited Canadian Stage in Toronto in 2015. This production was a powerful impetus for the Mellon-funded project, Aesthetic Education: A South-North Dialogue (2016-2020) which connected scholars through the Jackman Humanities Institute and the Centre for Humanities Research at the University of the Western Cape.