A powerful new interpretation of Hamlet is brought to life through puppetry and physical performance. Younge’s Hamlet premiered at the National Arts Festival 2022 where it received outstanding reviews. Mongi Mtombeni and Siyamthanda Sinani play Hamlet, with Timothy Redpath as Claudius and Roshina Ratnam as Queen Gertrude. The ensemble cast bring the full cast of characters to life through larger than life puppets.
Commanded by the ghost of his father to avenge his death, Hamlet must grapple with the value of a life and what it means to ‘set things right.’ Caught between love and anger, immediate revenge and ultimate retribution, Hamlet fights to right his world shattered by murder.
The poetry and emotional magnitude of Shakespeare’s words are echoed in the scale and energy of the puppets. Gestural, evocative figures blend and reconfigure themselves as characters grapple with the depths of grief and passion. Hamlet’s internal struggles play out visibly in the puppetry, as each puppet is a ‘physical being’ supported by the ‘emotional being’ of the performers.
This is an intense, high energy production is focussed on the heart of Hamlet’s personal conflict.
Janni Younge is a director and producer of theatre with an emphasis on puppetry. Janni’s work has been performed widely internationally in North and South America, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and India.
Recognition for her work includes the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Theatre, four-time winner of the Fleur du Cap award for puppet design and Best Director at the I Festiwal małych Prapremier in Poland. In 2018 she was selected as the Grenada artist in Residence, University of California, Davis where she designed and co-directed the Bluest Eye. The show went on to win four awards at the American College Theatre Festival.
A past director of Handspring Puppet Company, she currently runs Janni Younge Productions. She also directs UNIMA South Africa, a UNESCO affliliated organisation that works for the development and training of visual performance artists and also focuses on social development through visual performance mediums.
Janni’s works include Hamlet (Chicago Int. Puppet Fest), the puppet design and direction for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Tempest; Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye (Chicago Int. Puppet festival); Ouroboros (South Africa, France and India); The Firebird (USA venues including Ravinia and the Hollywood Bowl), and Take Flight, winner of the Best Director award at the I Festiwal małych Prapremier in Poland.
With Handspring, Janni also directed revivals of William Kentridge’s Woyzeck on the Highveld and Ubu and the Truth Commission and worked on War Horse and on the Bristol Old Vic’s Midsummer night’s Dream.
Janni is a graduate of the French National School of Puppet Theatre, has a B.A. in Fine Art and an M.A. in Theatre.