Gary Friedman is an accomplished puppeteer, director and producer for live theatre and television. He has been involved in the education and entertainment industry since 1978, throughout Africa, Europe, Canada, the United States and Australia. He has more recently added film making to his credentials.
After studying at the University of Cape Town in South Africa in the late seventies and the Institute International de la Marionnette in France in the eighties, Friedman studied ‘Puppetry for Film and Television’ with the late Jim Henson of The Muppets. He then started a non-governmental organization ‘Puppets Against Aids’ in 1987, designed to educate communities throughout Africa on the prevention of HIV/AIDS. Fifteen years later, after running workshops and training groups through Africa, Canada, Europe, Pacific Islands and Australia, the programme continues.
Gary’s political career began in the early nineteen-eighties with ‘Puns en Doedie’ (Puppets Against Apartheid), which he performed in the streets of South Africa during the difficult years of Apartheid.
In 1994, Friedman started African Puppet Television and launched ‘Puppets for Democracy’ in time for South Africa's first democratic election. He was commissioned to cover the elections for the national broadcaster, interviewing many of South Africa’s politicians, including the incoming president, Nelson Mandela.
In 1996 Gary launched ‘Puppets in Prison’, a peer-group education program in Johannesburg Prison, which soon expanded to other prisons throughout South Africa. This was followed by other international ‘puppetry in education and development’ programs, such as ‘Puppets Against Corruption’ and ‘Puppets Against Abuse’.
Between 1999 and 2001, Friedman produced and performed in a two-hour daily children’s television show for South African Television “School TV ”. He also directed the OB unit, in which a traveling puppet visited schools, interviewing children in the classrooms and seeing places of interest throughout South Africa.
Friedman produced and performed ‘The Losh ‘n Horror Show’ – a South African - Australian comedy, examining issues of exile and emigration through the eyes a Jewish and Zulu family in Johannesburg to Sydney, Australia. This production opened in South Africa in 1998 and closed in Australia in 2003.
Throughout his professional career, Friedman has filmed and produced documentaries based on his educational and development work.
In December 2001, Friedman was awarded a “Distinguished Talent” visa by the Australian Government to reside and work in Australia.
In Australia, Friedman has been involved in theatre and television workshops from 2002 to 2012, which were based at the Seymour Theatre and Sydney Film School, where he taught ‘Puppetry for Film and Television’. From mid-2005 until 2007, he has conducted workshops in ‘Playback Puppetry’ and ‘Puppetry for Television’ throughout Europe, Canada and the United States, with his partner, Sharon Gelber, while at the same time completing the research and shooting for his latest documentary film and theatre production ‘Looking for a Monster’ - check it out here link title
In 2016, Friedman began producing stop-motion animation films, which began with 'Je Suis Punch!' as a dedication to freedom of expression in our world and two young Spanish puppeteers, who were arrested for “glorifying terrorism” for their radical ‘Punch & Judy’ street show. You can view the film here.
This was followed by another production, later that year, 'Build That Wall' - a four-minute-long stop-motion animation film, set in an imaginary Trump Town, USA. Friedman created and built Trump Town and all its inhabitants in his Melbourne studio. You can view the film here. “I have in the past year, become fascinated by the themes of walls, barriers, borders and boundaries. We seem to have a resurgence of separating people, communities, towns and countries internationally.” The film was featured in the New York Times on 21 April 2017. You can view the article here.
More information on his current work can be found here link title