The play “War Horse” is a theatrical production that combines human actors, stage effects and life-size animal puppets. The story is based on the popular 1982 book “War Horse”, written by Michael Morpurgo. The story follows an English farm horse called Joey, who is sold to the cavalry in World War I. His human companion, Albert Narracott, also joins the army but is sent to a different battle front. After years of bloody battle and disease, Albert sets off in search of Joey. Man and animal are reunited in a moving scene that proves that love cannot be destroyed by war.
What sets this play apart from many others is not the skill of the human actors, the props, story or costumes. What makes the “War Horse” stage play so appealing are the animal puppets. South African puppet makers Adrian Kohler, Basil Jones and Thys Stander created the animal puppets in a warehouse in Cape Town, South Africa. Their company, Handspring Puppets, made all of the animal puppets for “War Horse”, including a wheel-based goose puppet that is now affectionately referred to as the “war goose.” The large, life-sized horse puppets are controlled by three men. The puppeteer positions are called the Hind, the Head and the Heart. Two puppeteers stand inside the horse puppet while the third stands to one side of the head. A series of poles, levers and pulleys allows the puppeteers to animate the puppet, and their voices literally breathe life into the animal puppet. Between the three puppeteers, the war horses can run, stamp, snort, wiggle their ears and nod their heads in a manner that closely mimics the movements of a living horse. Even though the horse characters have no voice, they play a very important role in this play, which honors the important role that war horses played in World War One.
“War Horse” has been the Theatre of Great Britain’s most successful show yet. Find out about tour dates and how to book tickets online through the official War Horse on Stage website.