Review: Jackal & Wolf NAF 2022- puppetry and song captivates young audience – joyful and participatory family theatre

Jackal & Wolf – premiering at 2022 National Arts Festival

Dates and times:
 Saturday – Monday,  June 25 – 27  10h00 – 11h00
Booking link:
Tickets: R40
Venue: Victoria Theatre, Victoria Girls High School, Beaufort St, Makhanda
Genre: Family
Duration: 55 mins
Age: All ages  
Production credits: See
National Arts Festival is on June 23 to July 3, 2022.
Visit for the full programme and bookings  
#NAF2022 #ItWillChangeYou  

I attended the opening of Jackal & Wolf, today, June 25, on the Curated Programme. It was great to be back at live show. The venue was almost packed to capacity. Jackal & Wolf is a thrilling collaboration between the Guild Theatre, Sonwa Sakuba Institute for the Performing Arts and Wela Kapela Productions and is being promoted by ASSITEJ South Africa. Fabulous script, awesome puppets and puppeteers and music.

The script, based on the Aesop fable, is enchantingly performed with life-size puppets and masks. The charismatic and scheming Jackal tells the audience that he hails from Ethiopia (Abyssinia) and that he travels the world to learn, but mostly “to teach”. He asks the audience: “Who is the most important animal in the kingdom? He then asks the wolf, what he thinks of Man. Wolf says that he has no idea as he doesn’t know Man and therefore he “doesn’t exist”. I think we can all relate to that – the unfathomable condition of humans. There is a wry commentary on the state of humanity and that we don’t exactly exist in harmony. Jackal invites to accompany him, to discover Man and so the story plays out through their interactions with Man and his attack dog, Bruno (a feisty dachshund). Man says to Wolf that of he see him near his sheep again, he will kill him. A sheep puppet quips to Wolf: ”Mr Wolf, I’m only a kid. Are you going to eat me” and then he adds: “Can you sing me a song? Wolf: “You want me to sing for supper”. This gives you a sense of the tremendous work that has gone into writing this script.

At the heart of the play is that we all need to sing and work together: “The heart is singing …and all is well…Together in harmony, we thrive”. It ends with a group hug. The young audience sang along. The oldies laughed as there is terrific humour – especially from the character of Jackal. I think it is a tad long and could do with a 5-8 minute cut but other than that, Jackal & Wolf is a quirky piece of theatre for families. It is not a simple a rehash of a fable but has been impeccably crafted in terms of script, puppets/masks, performers and music. I loved watching and was enthralled by the puppetry; the epic scale of the production and attention to detail. Highly recommended.