Save the Pedestals is a unique, international artistic collaboration between the Baxter Theatre Centre, Handspring Puppet Company and Halle Puppet Theatre. The play will makes its African debut at the Baxter Flipside, for four performances only, from 28 to 30 March 2019, at 8pm, with a matinee on Saturday, 30 March at 4pm. This follows its hugely successful world premiere in Halle, Germany, last year.
The acclaimed South African creative team behind the production have combined their collective skills to bring to life the narrative, which is based on writer Ivan Vladislavić’s short story, under the direction of choreographer and director, Robin Orlyn and featuring puppets by the Tony-Award-winning Handspring Puppet Company, led by Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones.
The Save the Pedestals cast of five is made up of puppeteers Mmakgosi Tsogang Kgabi (Botswana and SA), Lambert Mousseka Ntumba (DRC) and Franziska Rattay, Ivana Sajevic, and Nico Parisius (from Halle Puppet Theatre company). Torsten Mass is responsible for the idea, concept and co-ordination, dramaturgy and play development is by Francesca Spinazzi and Andreas Hillger, with German translation by Thomas Brückner.
Heroes that have fallen from grace
The iconoclastic work, featuring Handspring’s giant colourful puppets, is filled with slapstick humour as it pokes fun at heroes that have fallen from grace. It follows the adventures of two struggle comrades, Comrade A and Ma Z, who find themselves in a world of public monuments that have passed their sell-by dates.
They wander around Johannesburg, sharing their recent dreams as they contemplate the half-life and the disappearance of historical monuments. Ma Z’s journey is grounded in and motivated by dreams where monuments recur – in her sleep, she sees a glass pedestal in which, like bones in a casket, are the names of the children of the statue. Comrade A, on the other hand, imagines that at midnight the statues climb down from their pedestals and go in search of better prospects.
Save the Pedestals is described as a poetic-political discourse that encompasses both the fall of Saddam Hussein’s and South African monuments (such as the Cecil John Rhodes one at UCT), as well as the rise of Lenin monuments. The title is derived from a saying by Polish writer and poet Stanislaw Lec, “When destroying monuments, save the pedestals.”
Rubbish heaps of concrete
“The idea behind this production of Save the Pedestals, is to bring together the best German puppet theatre with the best puppet theatre from African countries,” explains Torsten Mass. “The performance has its finger on the pulse from a historical perspective and simultaneously addresses and encourages discussion around this global problem, in an interesting and provocative manner. Vladislavic’s story, at its heart, is about how we deal with monuments that have been left behind by political change and we are, therefore, resigned to confiscate them and they end up being nothing more than rubbish heaps of concrete.”
What: Save the Pedestals
Where and when: Baxter Flipside from 28 to 30 March 2019. Matinee on 30 March 2019