The top 10 most interesting facts about Joey from War Horse

10 Facts about Joey from War Horse Wembley Park

It’s almost time for War Horse!

Yes in just a couple of days, the high-anticipated National Theatre production of War Horse will FINALLY return to London for a limited run at Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre.

For just six weeks the critically acclaimed production, based on Michael Morpurgo’s novel, will be showing in the brand new theatre space after a sellout tour around the world.

War Horse follows the story of Joey, young Albert’s beloved horse, who is sold to the Cavalry and shipped to France at the outbreak of WW1. After getting caught up in enemy fire, Joey embarks on an extraordinary journey, finding himself in no mans land. Albert, who remained on his parents’ Devon farm, cannot forget Joey and embarks on his own treacherous mission to find him and bring him home.

The unforgettable theatrical experience is a show of phenomenal inventiveness, with the heart of the production being life-sized horses by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, who bring breathing, galloping, charging horses to thrilling life on stage.

Incredible detail and thought went into mimicking real-life horses with these puppets. But just HOW was it done (and how does it work!). Read out top ten interesting facts about Joey, the horse from War Horse.

1. Joey weighs 120Ibs (that’s nearly eight and a half stone!). It took 14 people to HANDCRAFT his frame, which is mainly made from cane that has been soaked, bent and stained.

2. In total it takes three puppeteers to control Joey. One for the head, which controls the ear and head movement. One in the middle for breathing and front leg movement. And one at the back to control the tail and back legs.

3. To mimic a horse’s communication methods, Joey’s ears and tail move. Where normal puppets’ eyelids move or mouths open and close, a horse will it express itself through its tail and ear, so Handspring focused on this instead.

10 Facts about Joey from War Horse Wembley Park
10 Facts about Joey from War Horse Wembley Park

4. When you’re watching War Horse, you might be mesmerized by Joey’s eyes. And that’s on purpose! His eyes were specially designed to sparkle at a distance by incasing black resin in clear resin to reflect the light.

5. You can make Joey’s tail twirl! Kind of. There’s two levers at the back of Joey, one to move his tail side to side and the other to move it up and down. If you press them together, it creates a spiral.

6. Just like a real horse, someone can ride Joey. There’s an aluminum frame that runs along the puppets spine. This load-bearing frame means someone can hop on the back of Joey to ‘ride’ him. With someone on the back of Joey, the puppet can weigh up to 300Ibs!

7. Breathing look super realistic to you? GOOD! To create a real-life effect of breathing, the puppet is connected to the puppeteer at the spine, so the puppeteers’ movement creates the breathing.

10 Facts about Joey from War Horse Wembley Park
10 Facts about Joey from War Horse Wembley Park

8. As horses tend to use their ears to communicate themselves, Handspring wanted to make sure they perfectly recreated that. To create the perfect movement, they connected the leather ears with cables to bicycle breaks to control the movement.

9. Joey’s tail swishes and moves just like a real horses. In order to create these movements, the designers used Tyvek, a plastic-like paper commonly used in construction to protect buildings.

10. Of course to create the real drama behind this production, the horse puppets had to look as realistic as possible. So much like a real horse, Joey is 10ft long, 8ft high and has over 20 major joints to mimic real life movements. He even has vertical levers to curl the knees and life the hoovers.

War Horse runs from Friday 18th October to Saturday 23rd November. Tickets start from just £15. To find out more about War Horse and book your tickets – click here.

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