William Kentridge Celebrates Coronet Theatre Rebirth With Handspring Puppet Collaboration

William Kentridge’s landmark collaboration with South African novelist and playwright, Jane Taylor, and the Handspring Puppet Company, will celebrate the relaunch of the Coronet Theatre in Nottinghill Gate, this autumn. Ubu and the Truth Commission opens on 15th October 2015 for a three- week season.

The Handspring Puppet Company, the extraordinary South Africa puppeteers behind the world-wide smash hit War Horse, worked with William Kentridge and Jane Taylor on the original production of Ubu and the Truth Commission, premiered in 1997 at the Market Theatre in Joannesburg.

By turns chilling and hilarious, and featuring spectacular animation and puppetry, Ubu and the Truth Commission draws on both the historical archive of the hearings of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the notorious buffoon character of Ubu Roi created by Alfred Jarry. This will be its first London season in over a decade, reviving a key work in William Kentridge’s prolific career as an artist in theatre.

Designed by the celebrated theatre architect, W.G.R. Sprague, The Coronet opened in 1898 as an opera house. It continued to function as a theatre well into the 20th century, before being turned into a full time cinema in 1923. After an uncertain period in the last decade, the building finally closed to the public in 2014.

The Coronet is now undergoing a transformation for the 21st century, under the leadership of philanthropist and art patron, Anda Winters. Work is already advanced on opening up the building and restoring it to its full glory, including the jewel like main auditorium seating 250 people, a black box experimental theatre for up to 100, restored foyer and bar areas.

William Kentridge, (b.1955, Johannesburg. Lives and works in Johannesburg) first studied politics and African Studies before studying Fine Art at Johannesburg Art Foundation. Throughout his career he has been heavily involved in theatre, which clearly informs the dramatic and narrative character of his art as well as his interests in linking drawing and film. He was a founder member of the Free Filmmakers Co-operative in 1988.  William Kentridge’s work has been exhibited widely throughout the world including at Tate Modern, London (2012), the Louvre, Paris (2010), the Centre Pompidou, Paris (2002), the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C. (2002), and the Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (1998). His production of Berg’s Lulu will open at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in November 2015.

Jane Taylor (b. 1956, South Africa). Writer, playwright and academic, she currently holds the Wole Soyinka Chair in Drama and Theatre Studies at Leeds University. She is co-editor of From South Africa, an anthology which documents the Years of Emergency in the last decade of Apartheid through photography, graphics and literature. She curated Fault Lines, an exhibition at Cape Town Castle on truth and reconciliation, which was part of a seires of cultural responses she initiated involving artists in the international community. She has written about Jarry’s Pere Ubu as well as the play text of Ubu and the Truth Commission with William Kentridge and Handspring Puppet Company. Among her novels are Of Wild Dogs (2006), The Transplant Men (2009). 

Handspring Puppet Company was founded in 1981 in Capetown under the leadership of Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones. The company provides a professional base for a core group of performers, designers, theatre artists and technicians, whose work has been presented in more than 30 countries around the world. Among the directors they have worked with are David Lytton, Esther van Ryswyk, Mark Fleishman, Malcolm Purkey, Barney Simon and William Kentridge. Their work with Kentridge continues to tour the world currently. Handspring has also created successful productions with artists from other parts of the African continent including Sogolon Puppet Troup from Mali and Koffki Koko from Benin. They have developed works with directors and creative partners in Europe and the US including Tom Morris, Neil Bartlett and Khephra Burns. Their most celebrated production, War Horse, directed by Marianne Elliot and Tom Morris, was first presented in association with the National Theatre in London in 2007.

Ubu and the Truth Commission 15 October – 7 November 2015  The Coronet 103 Notting Hill Gate, London, W11 3LB

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