Colony of insects😁

MOre then 80 children joined our july holiday school to build and prepare puppets for the last season. So one said “I want to be a 🐝 ”, the other one “I want to be a 🦋.” Then one of the youth leaders ask what are we all? And proudly they shout “WE ARE INSECTS”



Net vir Pret in partnership with the Centre for Humanities Research at the University of the Western Cape (CHR@UWC), present the 9th annual Barrydale Giant Puppet Parade and Performance.  A highlight on the South African creative calendar for young and old alike, the parade and performance will take place on Sunday 15th December at 6:30 pm, in the highly creative farming village of Barrydale on the famous Route 62 in the Klein Karoo. This inspiring event brings community performers together with leading artists from South Africa and around the world, offering a truly unique South African performance experience every year. The parade and performance combines inspirational large-scale puppetry, local dance and music, hundreds of young performers, masks and puppets all showcased under the majestic mountains of the Tradau valley. This landmark public performance event is part of the Barrydale Arts Meander (BAM) which is organised by the award winning Magpie Arts Collective, a feast of creativity in which many galleries and artists in the town, open their doors to the public for the whole weekend.    

This year’s parade, entitled The Last Season will be using giant puppetry, original electro-acoustic musical compositions and fantastical masked creatures, in a large- scale creative production exploring the concerns of our global climate crisis and the immanent threats of ecological disaster to our planet.   The Last Season weaves an electrifying story of survival and hope in an Afro- futuristic world after a planetary ecological catastrophe, which wipes out all of humanity.   Leaving only the most resilient and quirky of insects to survive in the post apocalyptic landscapes of the Klein Karoo, the last bees and plants become the greatest treasures of our dying planet.

The Last Season invites us to imagine what the world will look like for our children and our children’s children, if humanity continues on their course of overuse and abuse of the planet and its resources. Journalist Astra Taylor also writes ‘young people around the world recognise that the disastrous repercussions of the already present ecological crisis will fall disproportionately on their shoulders, and the shoulders of generations to come – in particular on those whose communities have emitted the smallest proportion of greenhouse gasses’[1].  What will be left?   In our story it’s a giant, rusting pesticide machine and a curious visitor from another galaxy checking out the mess we’ve made! The Last Season entices us to look at our planet through different eyes, from the micro-view of insects, whom we mostly ignore, but who are left to clean up the consequences of our actions.    

This unique annual public arts event is directed by CHR@UWC based puppetry artist and visual theatre maker Aja Marneweck with dramaturgy by Donna Kouter of Net vir Pret and assisted by puppetry directors Siphokazi Mpofu and Sipho Ngxola of Ukwanda Puppetry Arts and Design Company based in Cape Town.  The production will showcase the latest puppet creations by Luyanda Nogodlwana, from the award-winning Ukwanda, who are also fellows of the Factory of the Arts at the CHR@UWC. Performing amongst hundreds of puppets designed by Clarisa Jonas and created by local school learners through Net Vir Pret, under the mentorship of puppet maker Jill Joubert, an impressive cast of more than 150 performers will bring the story of The Last Season to life. Original music for the production will be composed by local traditional music specialist and director, Peter Takelo, jazz musician Gary Crawford, and upcoming muso’s Dylan Hess and Selanvor Platjies.

The annual puppet parade and production, The Last Season will be performed on Sunday 15 December at 6:30pm at BF Oosthuizen Primary School, Tinley Street, 6750 Barrydale.

Children’s Puppet Designs

Last week was a full intensive with expert puppetry teacher and inspiring artist Jill Joubert who has worked with our children and designers in Barrydale since the very first parade ever in 2010.

Our head children’s puppet designer is Clarisa Jonas, who has made the wonderful designs for the past two years. This year she will be assisted by Herriette and Julio of Net vir Pret. All three puppet makers spent a full week with Jill, as she says “designing, drawing from life and being rigorous!”. Part of the rigour of the design process is being able to create teaching drawings and booklets of each design that can be used to teach other young people, as an archive and as a guideline on how to make each individual creation.

A special thankyou to the Handspring Puppet Trust for making these workshops with Jill possible again this year.

10 years of Evolving Creative Expression

The Barrydale giant puppet parade and performance is a unique and significant public, large scale cultural and artistic  event that takes place annually in the rural farming town of Barrydale on the R62 in the Klein Karoo of the Western Cape. The event is run by the award winning Children’s Aftercare provider Organisation Net vir Pret based in Barrydale in partnership with the University of the Western Cape’s Centre for Humanities Research in Cape TownIt is a unique, collaborative public arts project that is now entering its tenth year of process and production providing crucial arts access, mobility, employment, exposure and development for youths as well as the local community and public, in a region of South Africa marked by profound scarcity and the on-going everyday legacies of racial injustice and economic division. It is also the largest puppetry based event employing puppetry skills development and training that culminates in a large scale free public performance,  in South Africa at present.  It supports the power of this creative art form for young people and fosters co-creative practices and spaces for cultural, economic and artistic engagement in South Africa today.

Now in its tenth year of production, this annual site-specific community puppetry performance event involves nearly 200 local learners, youths and performers, as well as a host of puppeteers, artists, musicians and creative collaborators in puppetry workshops, puppet making, music making, dance, rehearsals, performance creation and creative celebration.  It involves collaborators and participants from the farm schools in the Tradouw and Swellendam municipality area, Montagu and McGregor/Robertson, as well as well known and upcoming artists and contributors from Cape Town and around the country.

Latest Puppet ideas, Prototypes and Materials

Our Chief puppet designers, Ukwanda Puppet Design Company (Luyanda Nogodlwana, Sipokazi Mpofu and Sipho Ngxolo) who are fellows in the Centre for Humanities Research Factory of the Arts@UWC have been hard at work to create prototypes of the two of the feature puppets for our show and parade this year. They are working with recycled metals, scrap and junk as well as lots of led lighting and exploring the new terrain of creating a phosphorescent alien puppet lantern! Designer Herman Witbooi, based in Barrydale is working on Buksie, a spaceship that is going to land in Barrydale later this year!

Electro-Accoustic Sound Design Workshops with Warrick Sony

In September, members of our sound design team, Dylan Hess, Selanvor Platjies, Brandon and William Esau got to spend two days brainstorming and creating awesome electro-acoustics soundscapes with music producer and sound designer extraodinaire Warrick Sony. Sony is the founder and sole permanent member of the Kalahari Surfers. They made politically radical satirical music in 1980s South Africa, and released it through the London-based Recommended Records. During this time the Surfers toured Europe with English session musicians.Sony has produced albums, and ran the Shifty Music label at BMG (Africa) for two years in the mid-1990s. He has also worked as a film sound recordist, sound designer and sound artist.Now based in Cape Town, Sony has released more Kalahari Surfers albums, and been involved in art, music and DJ events in the city. He currently works on film scores, music for theatre and sonic art exhibitions.

Our sound artists got to create their own soundscapes using found objects, furniture, live sound recordings and creaky doors, creating worlds of digital sound for our upcoming production The Last Season.

The Team got to visit the iconic Milestone Studios started by Murray Anderson over 30 years ago. He has recorded many albums which have earned him Gold and Platinum records, he has engineered recordings at Milestone Studios for local artists ranging from Amampondo to Jack Parow, HHP, Yvonne Chaka Chaka and the Klipwerf Orkes, jazz artists like Robbie Jansen, Bokani Dyer, and Mandla Mlangeni, and international acts including Annie Lennox, Kaiser Chiefs, Junkie XL, Miley Cyrus and Queen. He recorded and produced Mandisi Dyantyis’ debut album “Somandla” in 2018.

Design Workshops and Brainstorm 2019

Our initial design workshops for The Last Season took place at the new Factory of the Arts and Laboratory of Kinetic Objects at the Centre for Humanities Research UWC building in Greatmore street Woodstock, facilitated by the project director Aja Marneweck with the Ukwanda design team, Luyanda Nogodlwana, Siphokazi Mpofu and Sipho Ngxolo as well as Barrydale designers Clarisa Jonas and Herman Witbooi. Here we see the beginnings of a story about the survival of the last plant and insects on earth after an environmental holocaust, in an Afrofuturist post apocalyptic landscape …