US puppeteer enthrals Pretoria kids

US puppeteer enthrals Pretoria kids

World-renowned puppeteer Karen Konnerth with her puppet Maggie at FF Ribeiro Primary School in Mamelodi, east of Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

World-renowned puppeteer Karen Konnerth is in town all the way from the US.

Pupils at the FF Ribeiro Primary School in Mamelodi, east of Pretoria, could not contain their giggles, screams and laughter during a performance by world-renowned puppeteer Karen Konnerth – all the way from the US to entertain them.

Konnerth has so far performed before more than 600 pupils in Tshwane and will this week be travelling to other schools in other provinces.

She said puppets were not only for fun, but children could also learn and express themselves through this timeless art.

While she impressed scores of children and their teachers, they in turn blew her away with their welcoming song and dance.

“I have never heard such beautiful singing,” she told the pupils.

Konnerth is artistic director of the globetrotting company Calliope Puppets, which presents thoughtfully interactive puppet theatre for children, families and art lovers of all ages – featuring handmade puppets in a wide variety of techniques.

All her puppets are hand-sewn and sculpted.

“I was a very shy child and the puppets helped me to express myself,” Konnerth said.

Also a dedicated teacher, Konnerth offers workshops that help teachers to integrate arts into their teaching in order to nurture learning and creative thinking in children, who have diverse learning styles and academic abilities.

“I also write and build shows to tour worldwide and I develop arts residencies for schools, as well as workshops for teachers on mats to integrate the arts across the curriculum. I write and illustrate books, and teacher workshops offer hands-on experience, Not only on making simple puppets, but in using them to inspire learning.” Konnerth said.

She has also created programmes on themes such as habitats and environment, and reading comprehension strategies.

“Teachers will see how to get pupils to create themed stories, make puppets and perform. Skills such as problem-solving, listening, sequencing, decision-making and collaborative learning are strengthened step-by-step,” she added.

Konnerth will travel to Benoni, Durban and Limpopo for teacher workshops. She will offer workshops at the University of Pretoria’s Mamelodi campus for Grade 8 pupils.

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