For those who’ve read the statement of practice from Handspring Puppet Company, you might be interested in the following short interview with Adrian Kohler:
How did you first become involved in puppetry?
My mom was a puppeteer and art teacher. Made and performed figures from an early age.
How did you learn puppetry skills?
From puppet manuals by John Wright and Hans-jurgen fetig and Margery Batchelder. Built puppets as a kid. Occasional films on bunraku and Czech puppet animation. Studied sculpture at art school. Mentored by Lily Herzberg at the Space Theatre in the mid seventies. Interned at the Canon Hill puppet Theatre in Birmingham uk for 6 months. Taught puppetry at Weld Community centre, Birmingham. Ran Popular Theatre program in Botswana in late seventies Where puppets were used. Formed Handspring inn 1981 and continued to learn on the hoof.
Is there a particular school of puppetry in South Africa?
What do you think of the work of William Kentridge? Is your work in dialogue with his at all?
I and many others think William is a Renaissance man. A broad approach to art. Generous and fearless, particularly of new technology. My work continues to be influenced by what I have learnt from William and he says the same about me. As we are not making anything new together at the moment, this dialogue carries on at a distance.
In between performances, do you think it would be worthwhile exhibiting puppets like the war horses on their own?
Yes, the horses look good just standing there.
What are your upcoming projects?
A piece called ‘True’ with Neil Bartlett slated to open at the Cottlesloe Tyeatre in October. About which I am so excited it cuts down on my sleep.