Puppets bring horses alive in War Horse
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Puppets bring horses alive in War Horse

October 20, 2019


My name’s Matthew Forbes, I’m the
associate puppet director for War Horse and we’re here today with our lovely
goose puppet that’s operated by
Jonathan Cobb. And goose is a bit of a crowd favorite, am I right? Absolutely, yes. Yeah, the goose definitely
steals the show. She’s an incredible puppet and operated
beautifully by our puppeteer, and is made
by Handspring Puppet Company. Handspring are based in South Africa,
and they hand make all of their beautiful puppets. And yes, this goose lives on the farm that
Joey grows up on, and there’s a bit of
rivalry, almost like siblings I suppose,
between the goose and Joey. So, talk me through the puppet and how it
works and some other features. You can see there’s two bars going up
from the back of the goose up towards
Jonathan’s hands. And from there, he’s got lots of different
triggers, and different and sort of wring
pulls that he’s able to use. And each of those wring pulls has a
different effect on the wings. So one
makes the wings flap side to side, another one opens the wing, or closes the wing as well. And when the actors are in the zone, I’m
guessing they are, he is goose
right now. Absolutely. Yeah, he’s totally, yeah, he’s
become goose. We spend a lot of time in rehearsals doing
lots of research, to work out exactly sort of what the
behavior of geese is, or horses or all the
animals that we’ve got in the show. And so we really, really asked the
performers to really sort of inhabit that as
best as they can. And they respond just as a goose would.
So if I was to steal this bucket… You can see that our goose is not
pleased. So they’re constantly responding
and it keeps it really, really fresh and lifelike. My name is Charlie Kenber, and I’m the
resident director on the UK and
international tour of War Horse. What do you think makes this play so
special and has made it resonate all
around the world? I think, I think there’s a number of things I think the puppetry that’s at the heart of it
is so believable, and so lifelike, that I even forget that there’s puppeteers
operating the horses. I think the story is something that we can
all associate with this, this idea of
growing up, of having a connection with,
with someone, with an animal, and with
losing that connection. And I think it focuses on a family, it
focuses on this huge life changing
experience that affected millions of people around the world of the First World War. And it feels like a story that’s really
important to tell today. What you think is going be the most surprising thing for people when they sit in that auditorium? I think the scale of the show, I think the way that we’re able to conjure
vast hoards of cavalry with a relatively small production and the
magic of the show, the music of the show
the comedy, the fact that it moves you but it also
makes you laugh. And I think I think the immersive nature of
it with a kind of low key design aesthetic, so we don’t have enormous amounts of
props or set. I think we’re able to conjure
this vast and detailed world.

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