Janni Younge Productions


Behind the Scenes, creating puppets

Firebird Team

ProducerIMG Artists International and Janni Younge Productions.

Director Janni Younge

Choreographer Jay Pather

Puppet Design: Janni Younge with Jonah Delange and Andy Jones, assisted by Peter Collard

Lighting Design Mannie Manim

Costumes Birrie le Roux

Sound and additional music design Daniel Eppel

Animation Michael Clark

Firebird Cast

Jacqueline Manyaapelo, Beren Belknap, Nkosinathi Mngomezulu, Craig Leo, Mongi Mthombeni, Dunty La Trobe, Elvis Sibeko, Oleksii Ishchenko, Mxolisi Nkomonde, Andile Vellem, Zandile Constable, Nkanyiso Kunene, Shaun Oelf, Thulisile Binda. Click an image for larger view

Production Manager Pieter Jan-Kapp

Stage Manager Robyn Sacks

Production Assistant Jzadir Belknap

ASM and Puppet Technician Jonah DeLange

Puppet construction Puppet Construction Team Janni Younge, Jonah Delange, Andy Jones, Peter Collard, Kyle Daniels, Zweliyashacuma Ncombela assisted by Philani Xhaga, Thokozani Dickson Nandolo, Sivuyile Gaji

Technical consultants Alan Serritslev (structural engineer), RW&BH Eng CC (aluminum component engineer), Gravitron Special Effects (Fire), Louis Christie (3D and engineering design)

Firebird made possible thanks to its commissioning partners Mann Center for the Performing Arts; Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts featuring the National Symphony Orchestra; Ravinia Festival; Sun Valley Summer Symphony; Los Angeles Philharmonic Association; Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

Creative and Production Team

IMG Artists

IMG Artists is a global leader of performing arts management. For more than thirty years, the company has set the standard for excellence across the artist management, touring, dance, attractions, festivals, events and cultural consulting fields. IMGA’s specialists in offices across three continents offer unparalleled international reach and depth of experience to the company’s artists, clients and partners

Janni Younge - director

Janni Younge

Janni Younge is a South African creator and director of contemporary, adult-focused puppet theatre and visual performance. A graduate of the French National School of Puppetry she also has a B.A. in Fine Art and an M.A. in Theatre from the University of Cape Town.

Younge’s work has been performed locally and internationally winning awards including the prestigious Standard Bank Young Artist Award 2010 and three Fleur Du Cap awards.

From 2005–2011 she was CEO of UNIMA SA (South African Puppetry), director of Out The Box-Festival of Puppetry and Visual Performance and Artistic Director of Sogo Visual Theatre. She created and directed puppetry for artists including Mamela Nyamza and Rob Murrey and companies including Hearts and Eyes, the Baxter Theatre and The Royal Shakespeare Company.

From January 2011–2014 Younge was Director and Associate Director of Handspring Puppet Company. She created and directed Ouroboros, which toured extensively in South Africa, France, Belgium and India from 2011–2013. She also worked in the War Horse puppet studio, created puppets for Tom Morris and the Bristol Old Vic’s Midsummer Night’s Dream and directed revivals of William Kentridge’s Woyzeck on the Highveld and Ubu and the Truth Commission currently touring South America, Britain, South Africa, Canada,the USA and Europe.

Younge now runs her own production company, Janni Younge Productions, which has produced Horse Life featuring the War Horse puppets in a performance for the Dubai festival of Literature, the appearances of the War Horse puppets at the Basel Tattoo, the Cape Town Tattoo and several other events and is the SA producer of Ubu’s international touring since 2014. The company currently has 11 full time employees working on the Firebird.

Jay Pather - choreographer

Jay Pather

Jay Pather is a South African curator, choreographer, and director working in Cape Town. He is the director of Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre and an associate professor at the University of Cape Town.

Pather has been involved in the choreography and direction of over one hundred productions nationally and internationally. He has collaborated with visual artists, architects and urban planners, taking his inter-cultural performances into public spaces across a wide range of cities: Johannesburg, Durban, London, Zanzibar, Amsterdam, New York, Barcelona, Den Haag, Bombay, Muscat, New Delhi, Copenhagen, Koln and Cape Town.

He has received choreographic commissions from the British Council, Metropolis Bienalle, Dance Umbrella, the National Arts Festival, The World Economic Forum and the World Social Forum, amongst others.

Recent new work include Afrocartography (Barcelona, 2009); Blind Spot (Copenhagen, 2009), Body of Evidence (The Netherlands, 2010) Qaphela Caesar, (Cape Town 2012, 2013) a dance deconstruction of Julius Caesar set in a Stock Exchange and the City Hall and Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps especially commissioned for the 2015 Dance Umbrella in Johannesburg

Mannie Manim - lighting designer

Mannie Manim

Co-founder of the Market Theatre, Mannie Manim has been involved in theater for 57 years, lighting and producing in South Africa and internationally for more than 40 years.

Manim’s lighting highlights include The Tempest, Noah of Cape Town, District Six The Musical, and Ouroboros; Nothing But the Truth; Carmen and The Mysteries (Spier); The Magic Flute; The Island; Sizwe Banzi is Dead; Sarafina; Asinamali; Woza Albert (Market Theatre); Show Boat and Porgy and Bess (Artscape); Out the Box; and Solomon and Marion. He has lit every first production of an Athol Fugard play in South Africa since 1976 and produced most of them.

Manim’s accolades include the Shirley Moss Award for the Greatest Practical and Technical Contribution to South African Theatre (1980); South African Institute of Technology Award for Outstanding Achievement as Technician, Administrator, and Lighting Designer (1981); first Vita Award for the Most Enterprising Producer (1985); and 10 Vita Awards for Best Lighting Design. He was made Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government (1990) and received a Gold Medal from the Simon van der Stel Foundation (1995); a Gold Medal for Theatre Development from the South African Academy of Arts and Science (1996); a Naledi Lifetime Achievement Award (2004); a Fleur du Cap Lifetime Achievement Award; Arts and Culture Trust Lifetime Achievement Award; the National Order of Ikhamanga, Silver (2011); and a Fleur du Cap Award for Best Lighting Design (2012).

Daniel Eppel

Daniel Eppel

Daniel Phillip Eppel's extensive musical experience includes composing and producing original music for theatre, puppetry, film and commercials. He has also composed and produced music for many national and international documentaries, animation and television series.

Daniel's studio credits and collaborators include: ZA News (David Kramer, Nik Rabinowitz, Zapiro), Alex Clare, Zolani Mahola (Where Do I Stand? – Documentary), Monique Hellenberg (Goldfish), Balkan Beat Box, Freshly Ground, Spoek Mathambo.

Daniel has received several awards for his work including, the 2016 SAFTA award for The Boers at the End of the World, three SAMA AWARD nominations and the prestigious Fleur Du Cap nomination in the Music Composition/Sound Design category for the Handspring Puppet Company’s production of Ouroboros.

In 2015, Daniel composed and supervised the music for Horse Life, (Director, Janni Younge) featuring horse puppets from the acclaimed War Horse.

Birrie le Roux

Birrie le Roux

Birrie le Roux is an award winning theatre and film designer in South Africa. Her work as a costume designer has been seen in cities all over the world. She designed the well travelled Mies Julie, Yael Farber’s adaptation of Strindberg’s Miss Julie, produced by the Baxter Theatre. Her costume designs for Show Boat have also been seen in Germany, France, the United Kingdom and South Africa.

In 2015 she designed costumes for West Side Story, as well as Orpheus in Africa, both for The Fugard Theatre and The Merry Widow of Malagawi for Cape Town Opera. All of these received critical acclaim.

Her experience is sought by young theatre makers such as Christiaan Olwagen with whom she collaborated on a contemporary adaptation of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. This was produced for the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown and will be staged again in 2016 at the Stellenbosch University Woordfees and at the baxter theatre. She also designed The Seagull and Who is Afraid of Virginia Woolf, for Olwagen.