• Sakkie Nel

Barrydale Puppet Parade


Why would a grown-up want to go to a puppet show? The proper response is “why not”! The Barrydale Puppet Parade is an artistic expression that involves the whole town and its people. It is a show like no other. People from all over the world collaborate in a multilingual visual theater show with an inspiring message.

Each year Handspring Trust and Net Vir Pret in partnership with Center for Humanities Research of the University of the Western Cape collaborate to produce a parade in Barrydale. This creative partnership based on discovering the meaning of reconciliation in South Africa produces site-specific community puppetry performance event that involves nearly 200 local learners, youths and performers, including 120 children making and performing with their own puppets under the guidance of renowned arts educator Jill Joubert.

Every year they choose a different animal from Africa and build a life-size, moving puppet. The 2016 performance entitled Olifantland is inspired by Lawrence Anthony’s novel Elephant Whisperer, a story about re-connecting to these powerful, hugely intelligent creatures. You have to see it to believe it. Reading about this parade does not come close to experiencing it. This year's show included 5 life size elephants.

My family and I joined the parade that started at the Karoo Art Hotel. The elephant was on a truck that transported it to the meeting place at BF Oosthuizen Primary School. Lots of children took part in the parade, each with their own puppet or outfit. When the parade starts moving everyone joins in - puppeteers, children, locals, visitors and tourists. Everyone walking together alongside or behind the life size elephant, towards the other side of the town. By the time the parade reaches BF Primary School it is a symphony of energy consisting out of people from all walks of life. At BF Oosthuizen Primary the elephant climbs off the truck, playfully greeting and caressing another elephant with its trunk and reaching out to people. The elephants then walk to the stage where the show takes place. The crowd even included CNN journalists. The show mesmerized me from start to finish. The movements of the elephants, story line, dancing, music - incredible show. The show takes place with the picturesque hills of Barrydale in the background.

This is a lovely event that will be enjoyed by young and old, with an inspirational life lesson to be learnt. It is a lot of fun to watch and be a part of. It paints a picture of what South Africa could be like.

Useful info: 1) The parade route is about 1.5km from Karoo Art Hotel to BF Oosthuizen Primary School. It is not extremely far, but I would not call it a walk in the park. Take some water along for the parade. And something to eat. From Karoo Art Hotel to the end of the show takes about 3 hours. This year you could not buy any food at the show itself. We could however buy red sunglasses with flashing lights in them :)

2) Plan ahead where you are going to park your vehicle. You could park at Karoo Art Hotel and walk back after the show, or park at the show and walk back for the start of the parade. After the show our boys were VERY hungry and there were no food for sale at the parade. I had to run back from the parade to where I had parked at Karoo Art Hotel, drive to the Route 62 Stop café, buy chips & cool drink and drive back to the parade and pick up my family. It probably did not take that long but it all happened after dark. Next year I will probably take food with and walk back with my family instead of leaving them to fetch my vehicle.

Start of Parade: Karoo Art Hotel

End of Parade: BF Oosthuizen Primary School Route Distance: 1.5km

Google Map: Link

Next Parade: Sunday 17 December 2017, 4pm - 9pm

Facebook: Link

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