This video is a great explanation of how the War Horse puppets function
Many things can affect an actor’s choices on stage. The age, social class, or gender can all play a role in how an actor represents themselves on stage. They are able to represent themselves in a variety of ways such as vocal and physical choices as well as things like costumes. However, technology has opened new venues for actors to represent themselves on stage.
In the play War Horse the use of puppetry is huge. Some of the main characters are horses, and without puppets, this play would be incredibly difficult to produce. Joey the horse is the main character in War Horse, and his expressions and physicality are very important in the plot of the play. It is incredible through the use of technology that actors can portray animals with human like characteristics in a very real and convincing way.
The puppet used for Joey has three parts and three actors to control him, the head, the heart, and the hindquarters. The puppet itself is life size and thus can be difficult to move around. Coordination among the three actors is imperative to make the movements as realistic and as lifelike as possible. The way the head moves, can express many emotions and allows the audience to know where Joey is looking. The heart, or the upper torso of the horse controls “the weight” of the horse and helps create the effect of its mass and size on stage. The hindquarters allow the horse to flick its tail and express emotion through that. All these combined allow for a very real horse to be on stage, and as a character in the production. Not to mention that the actors inside vocalize all of the horses breath and sounds.
Without the use of puppets, many upcoming new plays would be impossible to produce. Puppetry allows a combination for the combination of actor and those beings that would normally be impossible to represent. Some might say that the use of puppets restrict actors, but with today’s advancing puppet technology, it really is allowing more freedom in acting.