Arts and Humanities
11:29 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Puppeteers Bring 'War Horse' Equine Star to Life

Puppeteers bring "War Horse" to life.
Credit Brinkhoff/Mögenburg

The 2011 Broadway premiere of the World War I drama “War Horse” won five Tony Awards, including Best Play and Best Direction. But the show also garnered a special Tony Award for Handspring Puppet Company, which designed the show’s star – a life-sized horse puppet named Joey.

It takes three puppeteers working together to play one horse on stage – the head, the heart, and the hind – through movement, sound and breath. They gallop Joey around the stage, moving his legs and his head, voice him, and create the emotional indicators (think: ear flicks, heaving breaths and tail swishes) that bring the horse to life. 

Based on the 1982 children's novel by Michael Morpurgo (which also spawned the 2011 Steven Spielberg film), "War Horse" is the story of English farmboy Albert's close friendship with his horse Joey, who is sold to the British calvary and sent to the battlefields of World War I. 

Broadway in Louisville opens the touring production of “War Horse” next week. Earlier this year, WFPL’s Erin Keane spoke with three actors who play Joey on Broadway. 

“War Horse” opens Tuesday in the Kentucky Center’s Whitney Hall.