While not strictly “straight from the horse’s mouth”, Griffith University Applied Theatre and Drama Education students received invaluable insights at a recent seminar featuring puppeteers from the hit theatrical production, War Horse.

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 University was the NTGB’s education partner for the production’s just completed Brisbane season, a collaboration that allowed Griffith students to participate in world-class puppetry workshops and a seminar. Students from other universities and secondary schools also attended the August 2 seminar at the Lyric Theatre.

Unsurprisingly, the star of the event was the star of War Horse itself: Joey, the extraordinary life-sized puppet operated by three puppeteers.

Brisbane student Ashley Wharton is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Contemporary andApplied Theatre at Griffith University and said the experience had broadened her appreciation of theatre and puppetry in particular.

“It was really impressive. Once we entered the space, we were given a rundown of the War Horse story and then Joey came out and we were shown the kinds of exercises and techniques that cast members had to learn and perform in the production,” Ashley said.

“The puppeteers were amazing. My theatre ambitions incorporate dance, physical theatre and movement and so this really fascinated me.”

War Horse tells Joey’s story as he is sold and shipped from England to France at the beginning of World War One. As he undertakes an extraordinary journey across both sides of the fighting, Joey’s former owner — Albert – embarks on his own dangerous mission to bring his beloved horse home.

Another memorable part of the Brisbane seminar was a monologue performance of Loyal Creatures, a new commission by acclaimed writer Morris Gleitzman,which applies a distinctly Australian perspective to themes in War Horse.

Griffith University’s 2013 Open Day on Sunday, 11 August, will include information sessions for Applied Theatre and Secondary drama teaching from 10-10.30am and 12-12.30pm at the Nathan campus.

For more information on Open Day, go to http://www.griffith.edu.au/open-day