The Final Spring Live Performance 15th December 2019

The show was really moving and the kids were amazing. The overall production was incredible. I loved it! Titled The Final Spring the futuristic climate change themed play starts in the year 2119 when all of humanity has been wiped out or has left planet earth.

Ashraf Hendricks, reporter for Ground up
Link to the full article

Here are some photographic submissions from various local and national photographers who were there to capture the live event.

Images shot by Graham Abbott

Striking Portaits shot by Jonathon Reese

The Vertical Journey a tribute to the still unknown

The Vertical Journey 
a tribute to the still unknown

The artist Marcus Neustetter and his collaborators explore spaces in between: from the vastness of the universe, with earth as our space ship, to the temporal experience of the everyday. This year they are collaborating with the Parade team on The Final Spring through the brilliant videography explored in this pivotal planetarium project.

In July 2019 The Vertical Journey saw the launch of a series of planetarium dome short films accompanied by live improvisations. The series was developed out of creative experiments with local artists, learners from Navalsig High School, the Naval Hill Planetarium and the Boyden Observatory. This work ambitiously attempts to imagine, manifest and animate the mysteries of infinite spaces large and small while at the same time conjuring the unarticulated stories of the people that explore these spaces.
For the collaboration with the Barrydale Giant Puppet Parade 2019, the films take on a new dialogue partner and become the backdrop for a puppet performance in partnership with Net vir Pret and the Centre for Humanities Research at the University of the Western Cape.

The Vertical Journey 
a tribute to the still unknown

a planetarium show by 
Marcus Neustetter

in collaboration with

Mark Edwards – film
Wayne Reddiar – sound

Manzikazi Scota – vocals
Sifiso Teddy Mhlambi – performance
Xolisile Bongwana – vocals / performance
Elrico Plaatjies – performance

Mariette Erwee – scientist / planetarium show expert
Ofentse Letebele – artist / planetarium show expert

Zanda Nosenga – assistant / poet
Regienald Milanzi – assistant
Reitumetse Lebatla – assistant

The 2018 and 2019 participants:
Reitumetse Lebatla, Regienald Milanzi, Violet Isaacs, Kamogelo Chao, Hakirah Bosch, Sylvia Chaka, Wendy Menong, Zanda Nosenga, Benedicta Osei, Perseverance Mavuso

With Thanks to:

University of the Free State
Angela de Jesus
Miné Kleynhans

Vrystaat Art Festival
Ricardo Peach

Naval Hill Planetarium
Prof Matie Hoffman
Dr. Hendrik Van Heerden
Léon Snyman
Dinah Mangope

Boyden Observatory
Dawie van Jaarsveldt

The Trinity Session
Stephen Hobbs
Paul Setate
Ciara Struwig

The project is developed in partnership with the 
Programme for Innovation in Artform Development (PIAD), 
an initiative of the University of the Free State 
and the Vrystaat Art Festival, 
generously supported by 
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


Entering the Gateway of the Universe

Words by Sudonia Kouter

The realisatin of this is it, the gateway to the universe –  hit me when we were creeping steadily up the mountain on the stretching road which gleamed silver in the headlights of our minibus. We all got quieter the nearer we came to the SAAO centre in Sutherland and excited chatter only started when we descended from our vehicle.

Even now whenever I am outside I would look up at the night sky, trying to pinpoint what we saw when we were stargazing, something I never would have done before our vist to Sutherland.

Never have I felt closer to the beautiful cosmos which is our universe and also learning that there’s even more universes. Honestly when we researched and discussed terms like lightyears, galaxies, planets, stars etc, my mind was unable to fantom the figures of billion this and trillion that! When I was gazing up, not with one of the telescopes – Each star felt so close and there were so many! The visit to two of the Telescopes, The Elizabeth and SALT was equally amazing! One of the things that stood out was that the mirrors used inside the SALT Telescope was the shape of a honeycomb, which is one of the elements in our story this year –  part of the set is also a honeycomb!

I believe that the whole experienced has touch each of us in different ways but ultimately it will forever connect us.

What I have learnt about the universe and its infinite stretch, brought in me a feeling of belonging. Before this journey I was forever looking out and wondering where I fit in. I delved into the alienness of existing right here, right now. Being a woman, being a mother, being a wife, being a daughter, being me. I’ve given being me many names – different, unique, awkward, strange, deep thinker, complex, infinite. Today I am most probably all of them and I accept that. For I no longer seek, I have found like many scientist have a discovered before me, stars, galaxies, planets.

I have found myself.

I am a daughter of the universe, I am like the sun, bright, warm, fierce and scorching, but the centre around which my cosmos orbit around. I am like a planet, centred with its own stars and moons which brighten even the darkest of days.

I conclude by saying that by looking beyond I have come to the realisation that there a place for each of us to exist, the universe is so fast and that our planet is so unique that no one needs to threaten another living being’s existence, for there is a place for all of us even if we are different from one another.  The stars are so many that each of us can choose one to guide us when we feel lost. And when that one star’s light gets dimmed we need only look south, to found our way again.

Luma Comes to Life at the Factory of the Arts

Puppeteer and designer Luyanda Nogodlwana testing his latest creation, the Alien A’qut Luma for the new production. The giant puppets are being built at their workshop in LoKO (the Laboratory of Kinetic Objects) in the new Factory of the Arts in Woodstock.
Mr AIR, the new Ukwanda Giant, preparing for his first big steps

Siphokazi Mpofu, from Ukwanda Puppeteers showing installation artist and musician from Delhi, Kathyayini Dash, the Alien that she will be performing with. Kathyayini studied visual art at Baroda and Ambedkar University Delhi and has been training in Hindustani Classical Music. Her practice involves constructing multi-sensory compositions in an effort to merge the two broad genres of performance and visual art. Kathya, who is in SA doing her PhD and working with the Insurrection Ensemble, will be collaborating with local puppeteers in Barrydale and our directing team to combine voice and object performance in the body of the Alien.

A gathering of puppeteers and collaborators to brainstorm MR AIR at the Ukwanda “Puppet Museum” at LoKO. From left, Sipho Ngxola, Adrian Kohler, Jud Cornell, Aja Marneweck, Luyanda Nogodlwana, Siphokazi Mpofu, Jane Taylor and Basil Jones.

Movement and meaning workshop with Mamela Nyamza

On Saturday 2nd November, at the very same time that the Springboks won the Rugby World Cup, our performers from Net vir Pret, Ukwanda and CHR had the opportunity to participate in a movement workshop with the formidable Mamela Nyamza, a multi-award winning choreographer, director, arts activist, educator and live artist, organised by the Factory of the Arts at the Centre for Humanities Research at UWC.

In the workshop Mamela explored the performer as facilitator, that any body can facilitate and create movement and that the boundaries of what we consider movement are open and available to us all. Using play as a pedagogical methodology, she lead the performers through various exercises exploring everyday movement conversations, movement memory , focus, basic object transformation and kinetic-vocal exchange.

She inspired the group with a preview conversation about her new piece, still percolating in its infancy, and we were honoured to share this time with her.

Diving in to the Macro and Micro-Cosmos: A Research Trip to the SALT Telescope and Town of Sutherland

Net vir Pret staff, interns and young leaders from Barrydale with CHR artists from Cape Town met for a remarkable research trip to Sutherland, stargazing at the SAAO South African Astronomical Observatory, learning about life, the speed and vibration of light and viewing the universe and our own bodies at 1014….Radical…..

‘On the 18th of October 2019, our Net Vir Pret team and young leaders were visiting Sutherland.  So we took off at 08:30 am and arrive at 13:40 pm in Sutherland the Northern Cape.Personaly it was my first time across the border between the ( Western Cape and the Northern Cape ). The whole trip was very long but wonderful. So when we arrive in Sutherland we get to our accomdation in the hotel. Its a very small town. With lots of friendly people.

So as we arrived we settled , booked in. Explore and after we took a little nap to get enough rest for the stargazing. 

It was a great experience for all of us. Specially seeing the planets my favourite one was to look at Saturnis. With the Ring around him. So I think we all was suprise and the information blew our minds. 

Wind , Mountains , Oxygen, Planets , clouds , Nature , The sun –  this is all the things that we must appreciate while we still can see it. Everything are so precious and they all connected , Ice that melting , Earth thats moving just now but we dont see it. The Sun and his light that providing for plants to grows.

Let’s take care of our planet.’- Selanvor Platjies


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 Final Spring 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 Final Spring 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 Final Spring 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 Final Spring 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 Final Spring 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 Final Spring 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.