Muizenberg theatre group’s puppet show takes to TV

Naledi Tlailane, Joce Engelbrecht and Zizipho Gcasamba (Ms Big Frog) rehearsing for Thandi Finds a Fossil, to air on TV in October.

Thandi Finds a Fossil, the first episode of the Jungle Theatre Company’s Puppet Planet programme will air on TV this October.

The launch will take place at the Iziko South African Museum, on Heritage Day, Friday September 24, from 10am to 2pm, as part of Iziko’s in_herit Festival 2021.

Children who visit can meet the puppets, Thandi and Oogies, for live interactions, and they will be invited to take part in a hide-and-seek game searching for their puppet friends, Lystrosaurus and Ms Big Frog, inside the museum.

Joce Engelbrecht, Naledi Tlailane and Siyawandisa Badi rehearse with their puppets. Thandi Finds a Fossil is directed by Vincent Meyburgh.

They can earn an activity booklet and prizes based on the puppet show and be privy to viewing the full episode of Thandi Finds a Fossil.

The Muizenberg-based Jungle Theatre Company started as an NPO in 2004 to inspire and support disadvantaged children, teaching them to make positive changes in their lives. The company draws on South Africa’s diverse cultural heritage and indigenous languages to find connections to the environment and human nature, creating and performing original African children’s theatre shows that bring together music, dance, masks, puppets, clowning and storytelling.

The Puppet Planet programme was established last year.

Dr Wendy Taylor, a palaeontologist, educator at UCT and avid puppet theatre enthusiast, was inspired by the idea of creating a puppet programme about South Africa’s wealth of natural and cultural heritage.

Together with Dr Thalassa Matthews and puppet designers Sean and Angela MacPherson, the Jungle Theatre Company developed the concept. The show was created for TV because of restrictions placed on theatres due to Covid-19. They worked with film-maker Jannous Aukema to develop a theatre and TV style that appeals to children of all ages.

The story is about a 9-year-old girl, Thandi, and her magical dog, Oogies, who have a very special relationship – they can travel back in time.

On their fantastical adventures, they meet animals from the past and learn how South Africa has changed through time.

These adventures explore South African palaeontology and archaeology, as well as other natural and social science topics, incorporating issues such as climate change, sustainability, and conservation.

The full show will be broadcast on CTV on Friday October 1 at 3pm, Saturday October 16 at 3pm and Wednesday October 27 at 3.30pm.

Contact Miranda Tait at 072 908 5160 or info@jungletheatre.co.za for more information. Visit www.givengain.com/cc/puppetplanet to support the Puppet Planet series.