International theatre sensation War Horse is charging ‘full steed ahead’ towards its Brisbane season and Griffith University has a starring role as the production’s Queensland education partner.
Staged by the National Theatre of Great Britain in association with South Africa’s acclaimed Handspring Puppet Company, War Horse has been hailed throughout the world for its technical and theatrical mastery.
Griffith’s Chair in Applied Theatre, Professor Bruce Burton, said the NTGB also encouraged educational outcomes wherever the production was staged via partnerships with universities.
Accordingly, the Griffith-NTGB partnership will see War Horse puppeteers and designers visit the Mt Gravatt campus on July 25 to conduct two workshops for the university’s Applied Theatre and Drama Education students. Then on August 2, Brisbane’s Lyric Theatre will host a seminar for university and senior secondary students on War Horse, puppetry and World War One.
“The NTGB approached Griffith to be its partner for the Brisbane season of War Horse after learning of our Theatre Space project, which ran from 2008-11 and focused on the connection between young people and live theatre,” Professor Burton said.
“This really is a great honour and will provide students with an intimate and invaluable insight into the biggest theatrical phenomenon of the past decade.”
War Horse tells the story of the horse Joey, sold and shipped to France at the beginning of World War One and destined to endure an extraordinary journey taking him from both sides of the fighting and into No Man’s Land. In the meantime, Joey’s former owner Albert, too young to join the fighting, embarks on his own dangerous mission to bring his beloved Joey home.
Professor Burton said the success of War Horse rested on the way it conveyed the emotion and upheaval of war through the manipulation of life-sized puppets replicating the mood and movement of the horses.
“It’s an unforgettable experience. Such is the depth of the drama and the expertise of the puppeteers, you accept the horses as real,” Professor Burton said.
“These workshops will be of great benefit to students. By seeing the show and then deconstructing it, they will appreciate both the art and the science of the production.”
War Horse plays Brisbane’s Lyric Theatre from July 6.