South African puppeteer. Probably one of the longest active puppeteers in South Africa, Alida von Maltitz has been a serious puppeteer since the age of twelve. After studying music at Rhodes University, she attended the UNIMA festival in Munich, worked for John Wright, of the Little Angel Theatre, in London and for the Salzburger Marionettentheater (Salzburg Marionette Theatre) on their tour to South Africa.

As principal puppeteer of the Johannesburg Civic Theatre, she introduced many newcomers to the art. She developed her own way of working, inventing new puppetry devices, including controls for a variety of string puppets. She left the theatre in 1972 and founded the Johannesburg branch of the Union Internationale de la Marionnette (UNIMA).

With the arrival of television in South Africa in 1976, her puppet, Haas Das, was featured in a weekly programme by the same name, which became an immediate hit. Haas Das read the news for children in an entertaining way which included educational inserts. The concept and scripts were by Louise Smit.

Alida von Maltitz also established a puppet theatre at home, performing Bible stories and children’s entertainment using a variety of marionettes (string puppets) and shadow puppetry, and produced such shows as The Three Little Pigs, Jonah and the Whale (using shadows), and other pieces for marionettes accompanied by classical music.

She has devised a basic one-year course, which gives students experience in making and performing puppets, as well as longer courses for more advanced work. She teaches in her home studio. She set up the curriculum for the puppetry section of the National Eisteddfod Academy, which takes place in September each year in all the main centres of the country. This stimulates the arts by giving children the opportunity to perform their own stories.

Alida von Maltitz travels to keep up with puppetry developments in other countries and has performed at international festivals.

(See South Africa.)