Adrian Kohler

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Adrian Kohler (19**-) Artist, designer, dancer, dramatist, puppeteer.


He completed a BA in Fine Art at the University of Cape Town. Kohler moved to Botswana to run the National Popular theatre Programme (theatre for development group Laedza Banani) for three years.

His puppets for Handspring are held in public and private collections including the Constitutional Court in South Africa, the Munich Stadtmuseum in Germany, and the Old Mutual Art Collection.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

Adrian worked for The Space in the 1970s. There he had a role in the dance production The Family and in Thirteen Clocks and designed for the productions Endgame, Mixed Doubles, Old King Cole, Patrick Pearse Motel, Tsafendas, Endgame, and You'll Come To Love Your Sperm Test.

He wrote, made the puppets, directed and performed in Gertie's Feathers, first performed in 1976 at The Space. In 1981 he became a co-founder of the Handspring Puppet Company (with Basil Jones, Jill Faubet and Joe Weinberg). They moved into full-scale theatre puppetry with a landmark production of A Midsummer Night's Dream (Oude Libertas Theatre, Stellenbosch, 198*), directed by Esther van Ryswyk.

His Handspring Puppet Company made the gull puppets for Robert Hewett’s Gulls which Keith Grenville directed in 1987/1988. Adrian and Basil Jones made puppets for Barney Simon’s Starbrites which was staged at the Market Theatre in September 1990.

In the 1990s his collaboration with William Kentridge as designer/director led to widely celebrated productions of Woyzeck on the Highveld (1992), Faustus in Africa (1995), Ubu and the Truth Commission (1997) and the opera Il Ritorno d’Ulisse (“The Return of Ullyses”), which premiéred at the celebrated Kusten Festival des Artes in Brussels in 1998. He and Jones went on to do The Chimp Project (2000) and Tall Horse (2004). In these multi-media shows the company combine live actors, puppet and film footage.

Awards, etc.

Among the many awards that Adrian has won, some shared with Basil Jones, are the ACT AWARDS (Arts & Culture Trust Awards of the President) Lifetime Achievement Award, a Naledi Award for War Horse, a Vita Award (Gauteng region) for Faustus in Africa, best set design, shared with William Kentridge, a Fleur du Cap (2001) for Best technlcal contribution to a theatre production for The Chimp Project.

A discretionary award (Vita Award, national) for their imaginative puppet creations featured in a number of productions went to Adrian and Basil Jones in 1991.


Astbury 1979.

Tucker, 1997.

The Natal Witness, 9 September 1991.

Kalk Bay Modern [].

NELM catalogue.

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