Suspended Disbelief: A TED Presentation by the Handspring Puppet Company

“Puppets always have to try to be alive. It’s their kind of Ur-Story on stage– that desperation to live.” ~Adrian Kohler

“[…] It only lives because you make it. An actor struggles to die onstage, but a puppet has to struggle to live, and in a way, that’s a metaphor for life.”  ~Basil Jones

In 1981, partners Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler co-founded the Handspring Puppet Company in Cape Town, South Africa, with two other graduates of the Michaelis School of Fine Art. Thirty years later, the two of them continue to run the company, staging theatrical collaborations in theaters worldwide with a cadre of downright empathic puppeteers.

The concerted group effort that goes into designing, building and performing these puppets ensures that they do live. In fact, the illusion is so complete at times, it would be almost frightening, were the creatures not presented so lovingly.

Via Lara Miranda, thanks!

The Handspring Puppet Co.’s inspiring TED talk brings “the emotional complexity of animals to the stage with their life-size puppets.” Their horse, in particular, is a miracle of engineering, art, and soulful expression.

The company’s latest production, War Horse, opened in New York at Lincoln Center last week. Are any of our New York readers going to go see it? Please, by all means, report back in comments!

3 Responses to “Suspended Disbelief: A TED Presentation by the Handspring Puppet Company”

  1. Tertiary Matt Says:

    That was remarkable.

    I knew it wasn’t a real horse, and yet couldn’t stop thinking of it as a horse. Beautiful work.

  2. Jessica Says:

    Spectacular work!!! I LOVE these, the articulation is so eloquent!

  3. Bef With an F Says:

    I am a NYer & saw War Horse in London.

    The puppetry is incredible, no doubt. The staging, the sets, the lights- none of the tech aspect felt gratuitous in any way, which was cool.

    However the book was a mess, and the acting was just barely tolerable. I wouldn’t see it again.

    So if you do go, just know what you’re in for & look at it. I’ve certainly done that many a time & thoroughly enjoyed myself.