War Horse: Getting to grips with puppetry

Boys from Years 9-13 enjoyed a trip to see the hit West End production of War Horse and then tackled a puppetry workshop run by the National Theatre.

The trip to see the matinee performance of the play at the New Theatre in Drury Lane, London, and participate in the workshop was organised by Head of English Susannah Sweetman and the School’s Drama Co-ordinator, Elaine White.

Based on the book of the same name by children’s writer and former British Children’s Laureate, Michael Morpurgo, War Horse was adapted for the stage by Nick Stafford and the play has become famous for its puppetry featuring life-sized horse puppets.

""“The boys thoroughly enjoyed the trip,” said Miss Sweetman. “The puppetry workshop was surprisingly challenging! The boys needed to think very carefully about not only the co-ordination of the puppet horse but also the movement of their own bodies in order to create a believable puppet. They enjoyed experimenting with the new range of drama skills explored in the workshop and are ready to put these to good use in future drama performances.”

The two-hour workshop was led by actor Danny Dalton from the National Theatre, who has previously played Private David Taylor, an important character in War Horse, and whose career has included theatre, television and radio performances.

""The boys put together a puppet horse in the style of the theatre show. This involved team work and creativity, with one boy working the front legs of the puppet, another working the back legs and one working the head.

“We intended for the drama workshop and performance of War Horse to support students in their development of skills in performance and stagecraft, and perhaps to further their desire to participate in other drama activities at School, such as the School play,” Miss Sweetman added.