Circle of Tales

PuppetCraft performs

Circle of Tales

A myth from Africa…how the first story came to be told

Circle of Tales
Told to PuppetCraft by Gcina Mhlophe, Africa’s most exciting storyteller.

A puppet show for the whole family.
Perfect for everyone from 4 years old.

“A superb show. BEAUTIFUL puppets, enchanting storytelling
– spellbinding as well as fantastically funny –
all held together with wonderful live music.
It will transport you, young and old, to another land. A real treat.”

It all started so long ago that it is impossible to remember when.
There were no stories at that time.
One day a woman, called Mazanendaba, set out to search for stories,
asking friendly and fierce animals if they could help, but none knew any stories, or even WHAT stories were.

After hunting up and down mountains, through thick bush, meeting many scary and funny creatures
Mazanendaba was told by wise Elephant how to find the secret of wonderful tales to tell…
A show with African and English language, wood and wire puppets, the sweet, sweet sounds of music played on traditional African instruments …..and sometimes with a 30-piece orchestra..!

The show is about 50 minutes. For the whole family. Ideal for all ages 4+.
After the show the audience will be invited to play musical instruments, meet the puppets and chat.. and not rush away.

At some venues we will offer Music Workshops before the show to teach anyone 6 years old + to play instruments to become a little musical part of the show.
45 minutes for up to 30 participants. Families encouraged to do the workshop together.

Here is a little bit of video from the show


Children say:
“It was awesome! Amazing. Briollant!!…I wish I could watch it again.”
“I thght it was a grate show. I loved every thing. I liked the giraffe doing big stinkers.”
“It was fantastical funny. The show was incredible. Puppets were beautiful. 10/10.”

Adults say:
“Enchanting and magical! The puppets are sheer works of art. Lovely singing and music.”
“Fantastic storytelling. Loved the use of sound and light. Full of atmosphere.”
“Workshop was the PERFECT accompaniment for the show… wonderful! What magic you bring to people’s lives.”
“Inspirational. Always surprising and endlessly inventive. Fun and unique, beautiful and memorable.”
“A treat for all the senses! Just marvellous! Captivating. Mesmerising. A JOY!”
“Loved every minute. Oh yes! Oh yes! Yebo!”
“A super production… BEAUTIFUL! Thoroughly enjoyed by ALL of the family.”
“Magical, so touching… and it made me laugh.”
“What a beautiful story and AMAZING puppets. Lovely singing and enjoyed hearing two languages.”
“A wonderful different piece of theatre. Stunning!! Superb!”
“It was so good to use my imagination for a change.” Aged 74.
“Beautiful. Totally absorbing. Utterly enchanting! Not to be missed.”
“Fantastic entertaining show with beautiful storyline. Fun exciting and unique.”
“Loved the music, the wonderful puppets and imanative story.”
“Fantastic entertaining show for all the family. A MUST see!!!”
“One of the most marvellous theatrical experiences I have ever had.” Tony aged 80.

Promoters say:
“Original and inspiring retelling of creation myths. A pleasure to have PuppetCraft to open this year’s festival.” Sharon Hayden. Director of Dorchester Festival.
“I loved your show. Captivating. Spellbinding.The puppets were fantastic – works of art in themselves, that came alive with your skill.”
“Great show: not “just” a puppet show… music, carvings, sounds, lights, look and even smells of Africa. Very evocative.”
“A wonderful experience. Skill, talent and a lot of love went into this. Your best show yet.”
“Fantastic show. Exceeded all expectations.”

“A superb show. It was great. Wonderful puppets, excellent music and a good story. A real treat.”
Roger Werner, director of Villages in Action. Crediton. 2012.

“The children were mesmerised by the enchanting Circle of Tales.
The lighting, authentic live music, lively story telling and beautifully crafted puppets created a wonderful atmosphere and took us all on a journey through Africa.
On a snowy day in Devon we were transported to another continent…and another world.”
Bampton Primary School. 2012.

PuppetCraft’s artistic director has been back to his land of his birth, exploring Africa to find a story, crafts, sounds and sights to use for this new show.

John Roberts
Gcina Mhlophe, one of Africa’s most popular storytellers, has told us 100’s of stories. The result is a blend of a Cameroon Creation myth with a southern African story about stories.

Gcina Mhlophe

Crafts have been collected as inspiration for the look of the puppets.

African crafts

A woodcut for publicity was commissioned from South African artist David Phoshoko.


Chartwell Dutiro, a Zimbabwean master mbira player, has devised the music. He will sing and play the lyrical mbira for most of our shows.

Chartwell Dutiro
Abimbola AlaoKadialy KouyateChanda small

We are delighted to welcome other performers to share the role of Musician/Storyteller.
Abimbola Alao, originally from Nigeria, renowned as a storyteller, educator and winner of the BBC’s 24 Degrees competition.
Kadialy Kouyate, a Senegalese kora virtuoso and and singer. “Fleet-fingered skill on this mesmerising instrument” Time Out.
Samuel Yeboah, a Ghanaian drummer and drum-maker, born in a community where drumming, dance, song, arts and craftsmanship form part of everyday life.
Chanda, a Zimbabwean musician and dancer.

Other artists involved:
Andrew Dickson, musical director. Rachel Miller, atmospheric sounds. Sue Field, fabric. Martin Corbin, Joanna White and Libby Quick puppet making. John Roberts, director, designing and making.
Puppets are performed by Jo White, Libby Quick and John Roberts.
For a bit of background on this team …click here.

Arts Council Lottery Funded

PuppetCraft home page.

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