Enter the Elephant: creative development and rehearsals in Barrydale

It has been a powerful two and a half weeks here in the Tradouw, the Valley of the Women, learning not only what it means to inhabit the sound, vocalisations, movements and characteristics of elephants, but about the absolute necessity of communal sensitivity and awareness when we work with puppetry.  With the amazing puppetry trainer Craig Leo at my side and composer Simon Kohler guiding us, and our team of  14 super-puppeteers, we managed to replicate and develop the amazing rumbles, trumpets
and whooshes of these resonant giants.  Then we merged mechanics and meaning, adapting what we thought we knew into Adrian’s magnificent kinetic frameworks, slowly working towards bringing energetic flesh and life to the ellies.  We also connected back to the basics of what it means to trust and follow the matriarch, walking in nature and listening deeply, as Elephants do- looking forward to what the next two weeks bring,
Aja,
Olifantland director

 

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“Nanna You’re the Matriarch” -Luyanda, Donna, Sipho and Zweli rehearsing our biggest elephant, Nana
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All the elephants on the open parking lot at Karooltjie Kelder wine farm in Barrydale
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All the elephants on the open parking lot at Karooltjie Kelder wine farm in Barrydale
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Our rehearsal venue
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Entering the world of the Elephants- our puppeteers in a characterisation and elephant exploration exercise on the land, connecting with sound, bodies, rhythms and nature

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daily yoga, aikido and vocal warm ups
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Entering the world of the Elephants- our puppeteers in a characterisation and elephant exploration exercise on the land, connecting with sound, bodies, rhythms and nature
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Entering the world of the Elephants- our puppeteers in a characterisation and elephant exploration exercise on the land, connecting with sound, bodies, rhythms and nature
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Entering the world of the Elephants- our puppeteers in a characterisation and elephant exploration exercise on the land, connecting with sound, bodies, rhythms and nature
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Entering the world of the Elephants- our puppeteers in a characterisation and elephant exploration exercise on the land, connecting with sound, bodies, rhythms and nature
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Sipho learning to move Nana
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Our baby Nandi
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Our baby Nandi
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Our baby Nandi
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Ellen trying on Nandi the baby elephant
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Elton sings ‘Arise’- an original composition
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Learning to make one conscious being out of four individuals- puppetry connection exercises
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some time out at the beautiful pools in the Tradouw mountains
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Vuvusela’s and tubing help us replicate elephant rumbles and trumpeting
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community meetings at Net vir Pret
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Sounding the elephants
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My time with the Black Mambas: by Donna Kouter, Net vir Pret Barrydale

Ek het verwag om militaristiese, tawwe jong vroue te ontmoet want dis die beeld wat ek gekry het toe ek vooraf inligting gesoek het om myself voor te berei vir ons besoek aan die Black Mamba’s. Ja hulle was fikse tawwe jong vroue maar ek was aangenaam verras, veral toe ons eers begin gesels oor ons kinders ‘n onderwerp wat alle ma’s verbind maak nie saak wie of wat jy is nie – oud, jonk, verskil van agtergrond of taal, ons almal was moeders, sisters, tannies, niggies, vroue.

Na ons patrollie van 20 kilometer wat ek en Aja end uit gestap het al het ons die opsie gehad om saam met een van die voertuie terug te kom, het ons saam met die Bush Babies deelgeneem aan hulle vakansie program. Dit was een van die vele hoogtepunte van my besoek. Ek het nie verwag om so vêr van die huis af met kinders te werk nie! Dit was wonderlik – daar was veral een seuntjie wat onmiddelik in my hart gekruip het, hy was die stilste van almal maar met als wat hy gedoen het, het hy met soveel konsentrasie gedoen, ek kon elke kind se persoonlikheid sien veral toe hulle diere beeldjies gemaak het van klei wat ons spesiaal vir hulle gaan haal het uit die Olifants rivier.

Maar om terug te keer na die eintlike doel van ons besoek, ek het vir Carol (een van die Black Mamba’s) meer vertel oor ons storielyn van ons show, een van die onderwerpe was “ancestoral graves on privately owned game reserves”, ons kon regtig “relate” want ons stories was amper dieselfde, toegang tot die grafte van ons voorvaders is nie vrylik beskikbaar nie – of ons kan glad nie die graftes besoek nie of ons moet eers toestemming kry en verbasend genoeg ontmoet ons vir Dr. Michelle Henley op die laaste dag van ons reis wat wonderlike inligting met ons deel oor die begrafnis ritueel van olifante en hoe olifante terugkeer na die “grafte” van hulle voorvaders, hoe toevallig is dit! Want net soos vir olifante is dit vir ons ook belangrik om weer die “gebeendere” van ons mense te besoek en hulde te bring aan hulle.

Ons gesprek met Dr. Michelle het ons werklik meer insig gegee oor Olifante. Voor my blootstelling aan olifante (ons wonderlike besoek aan Addo Olifant Park) en die stryd vir hulle oorlewing was olifante nie hoog op my prioriteits lysie nie. Ons bly in ‘n klein gemeenskappie, meer as die helfte van ons het nog nooit eers ‘n lewendige olifant gesien nie en wat nie naby jou gebeur nie is soms nie vir jou belangrik nie want die daaglikse lewe is soms vir baie van ons ‘n stryd vir oorlewing, maar ek het geleer deur net om te gee en ander bewus te maak kan ook ‘n verskil maak.

Die verbintenis en ooreenkomste tussen ons en olifante is so wonderbaarlik dat ek nie onaangeraak en ‘n buitestaander kon bly nie. Hoe Olifante omgee vir hul eie het my laat besef ek moet meer omgee vir my eie.

Ek het gewonder hoe die Balck Mamba’s kon doen wat hulle doen, elke dag sonder enige teken van vermoeienis. Hoe kan hulle vir die meerderheid van hulle tyd weg wees van hul geliefdes en nog steeds met soveel trots, soveel passie en soveel toewyding hulle take verrig? Die black mamba’s het my geleer dat dit belangrik is om te dink aan my toekoms en aan my doel – My toekoms sluit nie net mense in nie dit sluit ook diere in. Hierdie vroue het ‘n doel, dis wat hulle so passievol en gemotiveer maak, wat is my doel, wat is my rol?

Ek is Donna, my rol en doel is Versorger!

Dankie Handspring Trust vir die moontlikhede en geleenthede wat ek, ons, van Net vir Pret Barrydale kon beleef!

Donna Kouter

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Puppets, play and mayhem: rehearsal and puppet making week 3

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Kids at it with Lucas
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Blomme en skoonlappies deur Clarissa
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Jill Joubert our amazing children’s puppetry creator and Derek, from Net vir Pret
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JJ and the bokkie!
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Kids puppet making and workshop leaders
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Our international volunteers representing South Korea, Germany and Australia!!!!!
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Not only did Adrian spend months creating a herd of life size elephants, he also then had to get stuck in to prop making!!!!!!
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Die Draad
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Directing and scripting team: Aja and Maggi
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Puppet designer Clarissa from Net vir Pret with Daphne making puppets for the small kids ages 4-6yrs
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Herman Witbooi’s Bokkie design
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Simon working on sound composition

Road To Olifantland 2016: Day 2 Rehearsals

The road to #Olifantland2016 is in full swing.

Day 2 of rehearsals began with our Creative Director Aja Marneweck leading the warm-ups and teaching our puppeteers the importance of breathing and opening their vocal channels. Music Director/Sound Engineer, Simon Kohler gave lessons on using the mouth and the voice as an instrument, thus manipulating the Vuvuzela to create elephant sounds that would help make the giant puppets come alive. Craig Leo, Puppetry Director, completed the day off with some introductory intense puppetry training where our puppeteers had the opportunity to test out the giant elephant puppets.

With the 18th of December just weeks away, the road to #Olifantland2016 is steadily making progress.

Sound and Music Rehearsals Barrydale

We are so excited about the original score for the new show Olifantland.  Every year we have the consummate local youth band, the Jazz Monkeys working with Muso Gary Crawford to create the electric sound for the show, alongside Peter Takelo’s rollicking Riel Dans songs.  This year we have composer Simon Kohler working with us to create a coherent sound scape that actually works with the subsonic frequencies of the elephants as a vital aural and resonant landscape within the production.  Here are images from our first big rehearsal at the Net Vir Pret offices in Barrydale

– Aja

 

 

Children’s puppet design

Jill Joubert has been teaching the young leaders and children of Barrydale since 2010, how to make the most gorgeous and creative puppets from amazing materials, many of which are recycled.  This year, she has two remarkable designers working alongside her, Clarissa and Herman from Net Vir Pret in Barrydale.  Below are some of the prototypes for Olifantland, created at Jill’s studio in Observatory Cape Town

Nana The Matriarch Comes to Life

Last week, the puppet building team at the Handspring factory, 30 visitors from the National Gallery and artists from Net Vir Pret Barrydale, watched in joy and awe as Adrian Kohler’s latest designs for the elephants came to life for the first time!  The puppet making team, under Adrian’s expert creative and technical eye, have been working for months on these, the latest puppets from the Handspring Puppet Company, created for the Handspring Puppet Trust’s project in Barrydale.  What a sight to see!