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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Equine Biomechanics on Broadway: Technical Videos Preview What the Audience Won't See When War Horse Opens in April

If you're new to War Horse, this video from London explains a bit about the play and shows some scenes of the horse puppet in action.

Everyone will soon be talking about the USA Broadway premiere of London's long-running hit stage play, War Horse. I've been writing about it on this blog and everywhere else that would allow me since it launched in 2007. Now we have a chance in the USA to experience the story of Joey the plow horse sent to France in World War I.

Joey's not a real horse, of course. He's a puppet, and one of the most clever puppets you'll ever see. But a few minutes into the play, you'll completely forget that he's made of cane and cloth and that there are two people inside him.

I'm so excited to share this video with you. This TED lecture explains the origin of the puppets with the creators from South Africa's Handsprings Puppet Company.

War Horse has played to sold-out audiences in London for the past few years, and it has brought attention to the fact that a million horses died in World War I.  It's an anti-war story, of course; Joey belongs to a boy who is heart-broken when his horse is sold to the British Army. He sets off to rescue his horse who is meanwhile deep into the war. What the boy finds carries quite a moving message.

In this video, you'll meet War Horse's equine choreographer, Toby Sedgwick, whose job it is to make sure that the puppet moves and "acts" like a real horse. This video also has great close-ups of the design of the feet and legs, and was also shot for the New York premiere.

Joey's movements are so life-like that I know Hoof Blog readers will want to know more about how he was built and how he works. His creators gave a TED lecture recently, which was released today, so grab a cup of coffee and invest the next 20 minutes in learning about an outside-the-box application of your knowledge of equine biomechanics.

When you go to see the play, you'll forget all about biomechanics and be absorbed into this horse's-eye-view of the world at war. You'll soon understand what all the buzz is about, and why so many creative people have given so much to make this play such an amazing experience for theater-goers. Make sure you're one of them.

If you can't make it to Manhattan, War Horse is supposed to have shows in Toronto and Los Angeles in the future. And Stephen Spielberg's Dreamworks film of War Horse will be released by Disney on December 28, but with real horses. It was filmed in Dartmoor, England last spring.

I'll see you on Broadway! War Horse opens at the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center on April 14, 2011.

Read more about War Horse:
The Jurga Report's first article on the play's opening in London

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing; Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. Please, no use without permission. You only need to ask. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page). To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness (the journal), please visit the main site,, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found. Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to
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Rhonda Lane said...

Looking forward to kicking back with the videos you've found for us, Fran. I have tickets to see War Horse in NYC in mid-June.

I have to wonder, though, if the live-action movie will hold the magic of the puppets on stage? Then, again, with Spielberg (last name all that's necessary) directing, how could it not?

Nick said...

Thank you, Fran. This was the first time I had been able to see the puppets in action (at least for longer than a few seconds) and they have done a wonderful job at them. Living in the midwest it's doubtful I'll be able to see the play in person anytime soon, so being able to catch a small glimpse of what goes into it is great.