Pupils' war horse puppet leaves casting crew speechless

HORSES FOR COURSES: Carl Woodward with pupils and the War Horse puppets

HORSES FOR COURSES: Carl Woodward with pupils and the War Horse puppets

First published in News by

A DORSET-based theatre practitioner and a group of school pupils have wowed West End stars with their own life-size War Horse puppet.

Carl Woodward, former education and outreach officer at Dorchester Arts Centre, was invited to The New London Theatre earlier this month alongside pupils at Oak Lodge School in Hampshire.

The group were given the chance to meet the original West End war horse puppet, Joey, after taking part in a Theatre in Education project.

The group’s own life-sized Joey puppet, which made an appearance at the Dorchester Festival Parade in May, was also brought along.

The puppet featured as part of a colourful parade alongside Dorset schools and performers that went round Brewery Square and up to the Borough Gardens.

Carl said: “It exceeded all of our expectations. The casting crew said, ‘We are just speechless’.

“They gave their afternoon up to do this masterclass with us. It was just a very special moment. It really highlights the importance of education in theatre.”

The education project was the end result of a project led by Carl in association with the National Theatre and The Mayflower Theatre in Southampton.

The National Theatre’s production of War Horse visited The Mayflower Theatre in March.

War Horse is based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo, which follows the experiences of Joey, a horse purchased by the army for service in the First World War.

Carl said: “The National Theatre has never seen anything like it from an educational project before. It was quite flattering. The young people loved it.

“They are still in shock and awe about the whole thing.

“I always think we have got to push hard and dream big.”

Beverley Hawker, head teacher of Oak Lodge School, thanked Carl, the National Theatre, the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton and the cast of War Horse for their support.

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