I love seeing how things are transferred from film to stage. How do they make what seems impossible, possible. For the upcoming show War Horse at the Fox Theatre, that meant creating Joey, a colt that could grow up on stage, go from farm horse to a warrior’s steed and be ridden by the actors.
I met Joey and his handlers recently at a preview for the show, which tells the story of a boy and his horse. The horse is taken away to serve in World War I and the boy joins the army to find him. I was already interested in the play, but meeting Joey made me even more excited to see the stage performance when it comes to Atlanta Sept. 25-30. Here are some interesting facts about Joey, and some photos from the sneak preview to get you excited as well.
Joey Facts & Figures
- The puppet (Joey), which weighs 120lbs, is handmade by 14 people. Its frame is mostly cane, soaked, bent and stained.
- An aluminum frame along the spine, lined partly with leather for comfort, allows the horse to be ridden.
- Stretched, hosiery-like Georgette fabric makes up the “skin” beneath the frame.
- A puppeteer at the head controls the ears and head; one in the heart controls breathing and front legs; a third in the hind controls the tail and back legs.
- A harness connects the puppet’s and puppeteer’s spines so his or her movements become the breathing of the horse.
- The tail and ears are moveable instead of the lips or eyelids, because that’s how horses usually express themselves.
- Two levers connected with bicycle brake cables control the leather ears.
- The puppet, just under 10ft long and about 8ft tall, has about 20 major joints. Vertical levers curl the knees and lift the hooves.
- The neck is made of carbon fiber glass for flexibility.
- The eyes are black color behind clear resin so light refracts through them.
- The right hind lever moves the tail up and down; the left hind lever, left to right; moved together, it spirals.
- The hair in the mane and tail is made of Tyvek, a plastic-like paper.
**Although WAR HORSE is based on a children’s book, it includes scenes depicting some war violence and is recommended for ages 10 and up.