War horse: play and lecture review

January 19, 2016 in review, unit1

To be seen, to be believed

The play, ‘War Horse’, based on a children’s novel written by Micheal
Morpuro, is telling a moving story between a boy and his horse during
the world warⅠ. The story seems impossible to adapt for a theatre
production as the main character is a horse. Even it is a puppet
controlled by people, how to make people believe it and move by it as
reading the novel? This is my big question before seeing this play
because i think i might laugh the people who is seriously talking with a
no life object. However, when i see that really happen, i absolutely
believe the horse is alive. As the commend by Merro, it is a ‘Theatrical
magic …puppetry that has to be seen to be believed’.


These extraordinary equine puppets created by Handspring, in some
extent, even alive than real horses. As New York Times saying,
‘ Nothing can replicate the specific thrill of watching Joey take on
substance and soul before our eyes ’. It is a ‘Pure animal magic’
(commend by daily mail) and ‘Even Equus pales in comparison with
the dazzling puppet design’ (commend by Guardian). However, why
we choose to believe it even we know it is just a puppet? As a
audience, i moved by the puppet is not only for it greatly simulating the
feature of the real horse, but also it express the best in the horse that
even the real one, might not do it well.


Lecture  of magic puppetry


With full of curiosity , i attend the lecture which is sharing some secrets
and techniques of ‘War Horse’ with audiences. As the action director
explained , one of key movement to bring the puppet into alive is
breathing as it is the key point for people to identify life. However, it is
also important to observe those slight movements and other details in
that animal before doing the puppet. In terms of horse, ear moving is
quite important as horse having a sensitive hearing that could express
its emotion. For example, when they point right back, that means there
is something dangerous. When the horse walking, there is a special
tempo that three controller should collaborate closely. Besides,the
sound of the horse is produced on live by three controllers as well. All
these details tells the audience the horse is alive even we could not
aware of them most of the time. As the commend by Independent,
there is ‘A superlative sense of emotional depth in the puppet that
could achieve a rapt hold on audiences.’

It is so genius to create this realistic, vivid puppetry. There is a soul
inside each puppet, like a powerful magic and I really expect to use
this magic in the future. Theatre is a imaginative place to surprise the
audiences. Thus, it is the responsibility and opportunity for designer to
keep stimulating imagination and creating magic in theatre.

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