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War Horse

I’ve seen several ads lately for a stage show opening for previews this coming week at Lincoln Center in New York.  Called War Horse, it tells the story of a young man and his beloved horse in England during  World War I.  His horse is sold to serve England in the calvary ( remember that this was WW I and horses were unfortunatelystill a large part of then modern warfare) in the fighting in France.  The horse ends up serving on both sides of the battle and ends up lost in no-man’s land.  The young man sets out to find his horse and bring him home.

Sounds compelling.  The interesting thing is the amazing puppetry that takes place onstage.  They have created life size puppets of the horses from leather, steel and aircraft cable that, operated by two puppeteers underneath the horse and one at the front, fully simulate the motion of horses, even to the smallest details such as a quick flick of the tail or an ear twitch.  They’re also strong enough for a man to ride which creates remarkable opportunities for a stage production, allowing them to have a show where the central figure is a horse without actually subjecting a real creature to the stress of performing on a small stage.  The puppets, created by the Handspring Puppet Company of South Africa, are remarkable.  I have to admit that I spent a bit of time just watching videos on Youtube of these creatures moving and am stunned at the sense of reality thay create. 

The show first opened a couple of years back on London’s West End and has drawn huge crowds and rave reviews since that time.  So if you’re in London or NYC this year, it might be worth a peek if the opportunity arises.   Below is a British newsclip telling a little more about the show. 

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