The Mantis and the Moon

The teaser sets out the exposition of this beautiful story by the South African writer and anthropologist Marguerite Poland, inspired by the mythology of the San people.

We also drew on the rock art of the San, more widely known as the Bushmen – one of the oldest if not the oldest people in the world -, to tell the story through shadow puppetry. The eternal tension between light and darkness, as well as the transmission of images seen in dreams or transe states, are fundamental themes in San culture.

In the execution we combined the traditional technique of live manipulation of silhouettes with the projection of a video made by stop-motion animation of pastel drawings. This permits instant changes of lighting and scale – which, on the one hand, helps to create some visual poetry and, on the other, heightens the contrast between the minuscule Mantis and the vast desert and sky, or the huge baobabs he climbs, bringing out the comic disproportion of his ambition. The soundtrack transports the ear to Southern Africa, and the Kalahari desert in particular, with its clapping and foot-stomping rhythms, enriching and highlighting the turns of the story.

José Henrique Neto

Note on the narration: it may be done at present in Portuguese or English. We are preparing French and Spanish versions, too.

Duration of the complete show: 20 minutes.


Translation, Dramaturgy and Narration: José Henrique Neto
Artwork and video editing: Diogo Vaz Cavaleiro
Sound recording and post-production: Luís Ratinho
Original Music: Luís Ratinho and J. H. Neto
Mbira in this teaser: Chemutengure (Zimbabwe trad.)
Puppets: FOLIA