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Hamlet is brought to life through puppetry at The Baxter

By Creative Feel

Multi-winning puppet creator, designer and director Janni Younge welcomes her new interpretation of William Shakespeare’s classic play, Hamlet, back to the South African stage.

After standing ovations and rapturous applause from audiences at the Chicago International Puppet Festival, Hamlet makes its way to the Pam Golding Theatre at The Baxter from 22 February to 11 March 2023.

  • Hamlet Janni Younge puppetry Baxter Theatre
  • Hamlet Janni Younge puppetry Baxter Theatre

Skilfully innovative and visually immersive

Younge explains that her contemporary vision of the literary classic comes to life through puppetry and physical performance in an intense, high-energy production that focusses on the heart of Hamlet’s personal conflict. His internal struggles play visibly in the puppetry: each puppet is a “physical being” supported by the “emotional being” of the performers.

Commanded by the ghost of his father to avenge his death, Hamlet must grapple with the value of 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 weight of Shakespeare’s words are echoed in the scale and energy of the puppets. Non-verbal, evocative and “visually immersive” figures blend and reconfigure themselves as each character grapples with the depths of passion and grief.

Hamlet Janni Younge puppetry Baxter Theatre
The cast of Hamlet PHOTO by Alan Eason

The success of 21st-century Shakespeare

The production has seen significant praise since its first staged appearance at the National Arts Festival in 2022, which starred Andrew Buckland as Claudius (who is currently performing a run of Oedipus at Colonus: #aftersophocles, also at the Baxter).

This year, the ensemble features both Mongi Mthombeni and Siyamthanda Sinani as Hamlet, Timothy Redpath as Claudius and Roshina Ratnam as Queen Gertrude. Completing the troupe are Samkelo Zihlangu, Tshiamo Moretlwe and Beviol Swartz, who bring the full cast of characters to life through larger-than-life puppets.

Directed and designed by Younge with Roshina Ratnam as assistant director, and with dramaturgy by Younge and Ratnam, Hamlet features lighting design by Lize-Marie van Rooyen and sound design and original music by Daniel Eppel.

Hamlet Janni Younge puppetry Baxter Theatre
Mongi Mthombeni in Hamlet PHOTO by Alex Birns

Hamlet is on at the Baxter from 22 February to 11 March 2023 at 19:30 nightly with 11:00 matinees on Tuesdays and Thursdays for school groups.

Booking is through Webtickets online or at Pick n Pay stores. Ticket prices are R120 for the preview and R150 throughout with an Early Bird Special of R120 for the first week. For block bookings of 10 or more, contact Leon van Zyl on email or Carmen Kearns on

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