chapter  Chapter 16
12 Pages

Puppets doing time in the age of AIDS

WithMarcia Blumberg

Over the Centuries puppetry has developed into a multifaceted art form that includes ritual, folk art, plays, and a popular entertainment especially geared for children in the interrelated genres of theater, the movies, and television. Robben Island in the mid-nineteenth century also served as a hospital for the mentally ill and from the last decade of that century until 1930 functioned as a leper colony. The AIDS pandemic in South Africa constitutes different demographics from that of North America or Britain in that those infected with HIV or living with AIDS are mainly black men and women; statistics also show that approximately one in four black babies is born seropositive. During the workshop the puppeteers also developed a commitment to the project and to its participants, learned a self-activated discipline, and practiced physical training and meditation; the creative and performance aspects offered them a special opportunity in an otherwise harsh prison routine that allowed no recreational outlet.