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Performing Arts students learn from renowned puppeteer

Internationally renowned puppeteer Mongi Mtbombeni shared his expertise in puppetry and physical performance making during masterclasses on 8 and 9 March with the Department of Performing Arts (DPA) WIL Production cast of [in]crusted - a multi-disciplinary DPA show that will premiere at the Breytenbach Theatre in May 2024. It features students from Dance, Music and TAD Performance.

In addition, TAD Tech students specialising in Properties and Design and Management participated to familiarise themselves with the performance requirements of creating puppets for the stage.

Mtbombeni is a writer, director and performer who specialises in puppetry. He trained and performed with the internationally renowned SA-based Handspring Puppet Company and has also performed with Cirque du Soleil. His most recent performance includes the role of Hamlet in 2023.

The students thoroughly enjoyed the experience of working with this industry professional and acknowledged that they had learnt a lot about storytelling through Bunraku puppetry. They successfully created and explored scenarios for eight original larval brown paper puppets that they created for this purpose.

With a diverse background, Mtbombeni has made significant contributions to television projects as a valuable member of the story development team, exemplified by his involvement in productions such as Inkaba and The Single Guys. His creative footprint extends to the big stage, where he has taken on the roles of writer, performer and director for notable live events such as Skullkandy at the Market Theatre (2021) and TREE at the Manchester International Festival (2019). In each endeavour, he brings a pervasive sense of spectacle, seamlessly blending text, image and stagecraft.

Mtbombeni had agreed to do these sessions with TUT students before his imminent departure for Zimbabwe, where he will fulfil his commitment to run a new theatre complex as Creative Director of the Victoria Falls Theatre Company.

The students will showcase their newly honed puppetry skills in an interpretation of the humanist story of [in]crusted, devised and directed by the DPA's Prof Janine Lewis in collaboration with the cast.

Students will be involved in the entire process, from set design to character development. This unique new production will be performed at the Breytenbach Theatre from 14 to 18 May 2024. The show revolves around the main character, Amahle, a puppet who tells her story about life, love and the perils of growing up as a young girl in SA. It is a story about detoxifying social norms by breaking generational patterns of trauma.

Students from the Department of Performing Arts had the privilege of learning from master puppeteer Mongi Mtbombeni during masterclasses he presented at the Faculty of Arts and Design.  





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