Puppetry festival for campus

12 September 2007 | Story by Helen Théron

The Out the Box Festival of Puppetry and Visual Performance on campus this week (10-15 September) uses UCT as a springboard for discourse, education and training in the art. Organised by the international association of puppetry, UNIMA SA, is it being driven by UCT master's graduate Aja Marnewick and Janni Younge.

There are few places one can learn puppetry in South Africa. An avant-garde, multi-media artist, Marnewick is passionate about integrating puppetry into South African arts and culture as a professional adult craft.

On the performance side, the festival has been divided into the Family Festival at the Baxter Theatre and the Adult Festival at the Little Theatre.

Saturday 15 September will see the launch of Iqonga/Platform, a new initiative to provide emerging and traditional artists with space to showcase experimental pieces. The festival's Active Puppets programme will focus on the use of puppets for social development, taking a leaf from visiting Ugandan and Kenyan puppet companies. In these countries puppetry plays an important tool in family planning, sexual health and especially HIV/AIDS education.

'In Kenya there are 400 professional puppeteers working in the community,' Marnewick says. 'Puppets communicate beyond words. With a puppet you can deal with issues like sexuality which in some societies is a taboo subject.'

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