Singapore Arts Festival 2003 Presents Handspring Puppet Company (South Africa)


Handspring Puppet Company (South Africa)






(Asian Premiere)



 Date:  3 & 4 June 
 Time:  8 pm 
 Venue:  Victoria Theatre 
 Tickets:  $52, $42, $32, $22 
 Duration:  90 minutes (no intermission)


“An outright success. A delicate spectacle, full of nuances, strangely beautiful, falling outside convention. It is both universal and African.” ~ La Libre Belgique


Puppetry, some say, need not speak to children and children alone.


Internationally acclaimed puppet troupe Handspring Puppet Company is one such advocate.


In challenging the boundaries between children and adult entertainment, Handspring has fused puppetry and other diverse disciplines with exquisite mastery, and in so doing, has won over scores of adult audiences across Europe.


A landmark Handspring production, Confessions makes its Asian Premiere in the Singapore Arts Festival 2003, and looks set to win the hearts of Asian audiences here, young and old alike, with its hybrid fusion of puppetry, singing, acting, live music from a string quartet and video projection.


Confessions is based on Italo Svevo’s 1923 cult novel La Conscienza di Zeno, the first novel to incorporate Freudian psychoanalysis as a central theme. An aural and visual spectacle that transcends age, culture and social politics, Confessions was conceived and directed by renowned Johannesburg-based artist and filmmaker William Kentridge, in collaboration with composer Kevin Volans and writer Jane Taylor. With the potent fusing of video imagery, singing, acting, and puppetry, Confessions is a compelling, yet delicate exploration of the powerful dynamics of work and erotic pleasure of the European capitalist class as the ominous shadow of the First World War looms.  Poignantly presented as a shadow oratorio, Confessions is told through the gently mocking voice of self-irony of protagonist Zeno, who broods over his unresolved relationships with his father, wife and mistress – an elegy to a generation coming to terms with the limits of self-knowledge.


Director Kentridge explains that use of inter-disciplinary visual forms juxtaposed “a naturalistic image of Edwardian society – its parks and promenades – with a corresponding anti-naturalist world of objects, shadow-projections, counter-texts – the negative of the formal posed photograph”.


This powerful visual dichotomy, coupled with lyrical extravagance, completes the stunning theatrical experience that fuses conflicting, yet harmonious elements of stark realism and abstract fantasy.


Confessions is an expanded version of Handspring’s Zeno at 4am which toured Brussels, France and the United States in 2001.  It premiered at the KunstenFESTIVAL des Arts in Brussels, Belgium, in May 2002, and subsequently performed in Germany (Dokumenta XI in Kassel and the Schauspiel in Frankfurt), Croatia (Festival Eurokaz in Zagreb) and South Africa (Standard Bank National Festival of the Arts, Grahamstown).


Formed in 1981, Cape Town-based Handspring started with the goal to create children’s plays and has since achieved a phenomenal international profile developing and touring puppet theatre for adult audiences. Handspring’s first major international success came in 1991 when Starbrites, a fable about renewal and directed by Barney Simon, performed for six weeks in London.  In 1992 with Woyzeck on the Highveld, Handspring began the first of several collaborations with Kentridge, and for the first time combined puppets and film animation


Please refer to attached annexes for more information:

  • Annex 1 – Profile of Handspring Puppet Company
  • Annex 2 – Profile of Director, Composer and Writer
  • Annex 3 - Profile of Cast and Puppeteers
  • Annex 4 –Profile of The Sontonga Quartet