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Janni Younge Productions, South Africa
Janni Younge


08 October, 12.00-00.00 ONLINE

Janni Younge Productions, South Africa


This production of The Firebird, directed by Janni Younge and choreographed by Jay Pather, is a puppet and dance performance set to Stravinsky’s original score. Janni Younge’s Firebird draws on the symbolism and dramaturgy of Fokine’s original choreography (based on figures from Russian folklore) and reinterprets them in a contemporary South African setting, using larger-than-life puppets and African dance forms. The central figure in Younge’s Firebird is a young woman the ‘Seeker’ who is caught in a conflict between the forces of creation and those of destruction which rage within her being and in her society.  Represented by ever more complex puppet forms, the forces emerge from, and hold sway over, the Seeker. As the strength of each dynamic builds, she awakens to the necessity of both in the cycle of her own development and that of the young democracy of South Africa. Finally, the seeker is able to find balance. As she discovers a new harmony within herself the dragon, rises and takes flight.

Janni Younge Productions is one of South Africa’s pre-eminent Visual Theatre companies.  Janni Younge Productions has established its signature of artistic excellence through the use of finely crafted puppets within a live performance context. The marriage of the disciplines of Fine Art and Theatre is at the heart of the discipline of puppetry in general and Janni’s work in particular.  With her first of three degrees being in Fine Art majoring in sculpture, the artistry of the performing object has always been a priority for the company. The poetry, innate in the expressive and finely crafted objects, forms an integral part of the dramaturgy of the productions we create.

Theatre is always a collaborative process. The multidisciplinary nature of puppetry has led to collaborations with some of the finest artists from South Africa and abroad. Janni Younge is committed to creating fine South African Theatre. Janni believes that a synthesis of disciplines and collaborative creation leads to some of the most exciting artwork. In the creation of the work she always seeks to draw in the skills of other artists including musicians, choreographers and the actors. As puppet theatre moves away from a complete reliance on text for communication (sometimes using no text at all), the play of messaging between these different art forms creates a web of communication, each element as important as any other.

The content of the theatre created by Janni Younge Productions varies greatly. Ranging from socially relevant political content to lighthearted children’s theatre. Janni always looks for the unique contribution of the medium of puppetry to the heart of the production. Janni’s passion for social development has seen her work through her company and NPO to open development and training pathways for aspining creatives. The heart of her work is motivated by a celebration of the beautiful complexity of being human. Whether the content is drawn from external events or interior landscapes, what characterizes our work is an honest emotional investment in the subject and a commitment to giving voice to our humanity.


Bird (1)


Author – Dramaturgy Janni Younge

Director – Janni Younge

Set designer – Janni Younge

Costume designer – Birrie Le Roux

Choreographer – Jay Pather

Composer – Igor Stravinsky with ouveture and additional sounds by Daniel Eppel


Producer: Janni Younge Productions

Director: Janni Younge

Choreographer: Jay Pather

Puppet Design: Janni Younge with Jonah Delange and Andy Jones,

Lighting Design: Mannie Manim

Costumes: Birrie le Roux

Sound design & additional music: Daniel Eppel

Animation: Michael Clark

Cast: Jacqueline Manyaapelo, Beren Belknap, Nkosinathi Mngomezulu, Craig Leo, Dunty La Trobe, Elvis Sibeko, Oleksii Ishchenko, Mxolisi Nkomonde, Andile Vellem, Zandile Constable, Nkanyiso Kunene, Shaun Oelf, Thulisile Binda, Ntombikayise Gasa, Sbusiso Gantsa.

Duration – 50 mins

Age of public  —  12+

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