MICHAEL MORPURGO - Author
Michael Morpurgo read English, French and Philosophy at King's College, London. As a young man he was a teacher. With his wife Clare he founded the charity Farms for City Children. In 1999 the couple were awarded the MBE for their work together. In 1976 his first book was published and he went on to become the award-winning author of over 100 books for children of all ages, including War Horse, Private Peaceful, Farm Boy, JoJo the Melon Donkey, Kensuke's Kingdom, Alone on a Wide Wide Sea, The Mozart Question, On Angel Wings, The Best Christmas Present in the World, Running Wild, Born to Run and most recently The Elephant in the Garden and Shadow. Many of his books have been made into films, including Friend or Foe, My Friend Walter and Why the Whales Came. From 2003-05 Michael Morpurgo was Children's Laureate, in 2005 he was made Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French government and in 2006 he was awarded an OBE for services to literature. In 2007 the National Theatre adapted his book War Horse for the stage, using puppets and incorporating folk music to bring the story to life. After two years the production moved to the New London Theatre in the West End. During the summer of 2010 Steven Spielberg filmed War Horse in the English countryside; the film was released in December 2011. The stage show of War Horse opened in New York in April 2011.
NICK STAFFORD - Adaptor
Nick Stafford adapted War Horse for the NT, 2007. His play Battle Royal premiered in the Olivier in 1999. He also contributed to The Chain Play as part of the NT's 25th anniversary celebration. His other work includes Katherine Desouza, The Devil's Only Sleeping and The Whisper of Angels' Wings at Birmingham Rep; Love Me Tonight at Hampstead; Luminosity for the RSC; The Go Between at Northampton Theatre Royal; The Snow Queen at the Young Vic; Moll Cutpurse and Easy Prey for Avon Touring; The Devils Only Sleeping at New Perspectives; Listen With Da Da at the Serpentine Gallery and Bad City at the Half Moon. His work for radio includes The Fire Inside, A Year and a Day, The List, La Petite Mort, Ring of Roses and A Matter of Sex (winner of the Sony Gold Award for Best Original Script). Adaptations for radio include A Thousand Acres, Birdsong and Frankenstein. Previously writer-in-residence at Birmingham Rep, the Young Vic and the Half Moon; Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at Roehampton University. Winner of the Dennis Potter Play of the Year Award for his screenplay Pity. Also writer of the short film The Missing Finger. A feature film based on Katherine Desouza is due for production in 2012. His screenplay The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde is in development. Nick's first novel, Armistice, was published by Quercus in 2009. His latest play is Jacob's Death. He is currently working on his second novel, The Long-Lost.
MARIANNE ELLIOTT - Director
Marianne Elliott is Associate Director of the National Theatre, where she has co-directed War Horse (also on Broadway winning Best Director Tony Award in 2011), and directed Season's Greetings, Women Beware Women, Mrs Affleck, Harper Regan, Saint Joan (Olivier Award for Best Revival, South Bank Show Award), Thérèse Raquin and Pillars of the Community (Evening Standard Best Director Award). She was an Associate Director at the Royal Court, where her productions include Stoning Mary, Notes on Falling Leaves, The Sugar Syndrome and Local. Previously she was an Artistic Director of the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, where she directed Port, Design for Living, Les Blancs, As You Like It, A Woman of No Importance, Nude with Violin, Fast Food, Martin Yesterday, The Deep Blue Sea, Mad for It, Poor Superman and I Have Been Here Before. Other theatre includes Much Ado About Nothing for the RSC in 2006; The Little Foxes at the Donmar; and Terracotta at Hampstead and Birmingham Rep.
TOM MORRIS - Director
Tom Morris is Artistic Director of Bristol Old Vic, where he has directed Swallows and Amazons and Juliet and Her Romeo. He was an Associate Director at the National Theatre, where he co-directed Every Good Boy Deserves Favour and War Horse (also on Broadway winning Best Director Tony Award in 2011) and adapted A Matter of Life and Death with Emma Rice. Previous work as a director includes Passions, Othello Music, Trio, Oedipus the King, All That Fall, Unsung, The Kombat Opera Klubneit, Macbeth (with Corin Regrave), Disembodied (with David Glass) and Newsnight The Opera. Writing includes Ben-Hur, Jason and the Argonauts and World Cup Final 1966 (with Carl Heap); and Nights at the Circus and The Wooden Frock (with Emma Rice). Producing includes the programme of BAC, where he was Artistic Director from 1995-2004. He developed Coram Boy for the National Theatre in 2005.
HANDSPRING PUPPET COMPANY - Puppet Direction, Puppet Design & Fabrication
Handspring was founded in 1981 by four graduates of the Michaelis School of Fine Art in Cape Town. Two of the co-founders, Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones, continue to run the company. Originally they created shows for children and toured them to schools in South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland and Namibia. Their first adult production was Episodes of an Easter Rising in 1985, presented at the Seventh UNIMA Festival of Puppet Theatre in Charleville-Mézières, France. Thereafter they collaborated with a succession of innovative South African directors including Malcolm Purkey of Junction Avenue Theatre Company who directed Tooth and Nail. In 1990 Barney Simon, co-founder of the Market Theatre, Johannesburg, directed Starbrites!, a fable of renewal after the release of Nelson Mandela. It was seen at the Tricycle as part of LIFT 1991. With Woyzeck on the Highveld in 1992 they began a decade of collaborations with the artist William Kentridge, combining puppets and film animation. Other productions with Kentridge were Faustus in Africa, seen at BAC, Ubu and the Truth Commission, seen at the Tricycle, Il Ritorno d'Ulisse, Zeno at 4am and Confessions of Zeno. In 2000, Handspring created The Chimp Project, depicting the rehabilitation of a tame chimpanzee into the wild. This was the first of three productions with animals as central characters. It was followed by Tall Horse, with the Malian puppet company, Sogolon, which focuses on the gift of a giraffe by the Pasha of Egypt to the King of France in 1827. War Horse was the third. Apart from seasons in theatres across South Africa, Handspring has been presented at many international festivals including Edinburgh, the Avignon Festival, the Next Wave Festival at BAM in New York, The African Odyssey Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, Théâtre d'Automne, Paris, Theatre der Welt in Germany, and in Hong Kong, Singapore, Adelaide, Zurich and Bogota. In 2008 they restaged Woyzeck on the Highveld in South Africa, at the Perth UNIMA2008 festival, in Brisbane and Norway, when the company were artists in residence as part of Stavanger 2008, the European City of Culture Festival. In 2009 they produced a new set of puppets for War Horse's transfer to Broadway in April 2011. In 2010 they co-created Or You Could Kiss Me with Neil Bartlett and Rae Smith at the National Theatre. They also appeared in the production and designed and made the puppets. Adrian Kohler is Handspring's puppet designer and maker. His works have been exhibited at the SA National Gallery, Cape Town and by the Museum for African Art in New York. Kohler's puppets are represented in the collections of the Stadtmuseum Munich, the SA Constitutional Court, Johannesburg and the Old Mutual Art Collection in Cape Town. The company has won many South African theatre awards. For War Horse, they received the 2007 London Critics' Circle Award, the Evening Standard Award, the Olivier Award for design and a 2011 Special Tony Award.
RAE SMITH - Designer/Drawings
Rae Smith's previous work for the National includes: The Veil, Season's Greetings, Or You Could Kiss Me, All's Well That Ends Well, War Horse (also West End and Broadway; Tony and Olivier Awards for Best Design and Evening Standard Award for Best Set Design as well as a 2011 Tony Award for Best Scenic Design), Saint Joan, The Seafarer (also Broadway), Pillars of the Community, Theatre of Blood, Closing Time, The Visit and The Street of Crocodiles. Other designs include: As You Like It, Pedro the Great Pretender, Cymbeline and Henry VI Part 3 for the RSC; A Little Night Music at the Châtelet, Paris; The Birds at The Gate, Dublin; An Ideal Husband at The Abbey (Irish Times Award for Best Costume Design); Faces in the Crowd at the Royal Court; Cyrano de Bergerac, Sherlock Holmes in Trouble, Port and A Midsummer Night's Dream for Manchester Royal Exchange; Oliver Twist at the American Rep and John Jay in New York (Obie Award); Dido, Queen of Carthage for the American Rep; Oliver Twist, The Prince of Homburg and The Servant at the Lyric, Hammersmith; Juno and the Paycock and Endgame for the Donmar/Roundabout NY. Opera designs include Rusalka at Glyndebourne; The Ring Cycle (Grand Prix 2011 for Outstanding Achievement in Opera), Siegfried, Die Walküre and Das Rheingold at Opéra du Rhin, Strasbourg; The Rite of Spring for ENO; Birdbof Night for ROH2; The Rake's Progress for Aldeburgh; A Midsummer Night's Dream for La Monnaie/De Munt, Brussels; The Magic Flute for Scottish Opera; and Don Giovanni for Welsh National Opera. Dance includes Prince of the Pagodas, a new ballet for the Royal Ballet, Tokyo. Further information and Rae Smith's drawings can be seen on ww.raesmith.co.uk
PAULE CONSTABLE - Lighting Designer
Paule Constable's theatre work includes, for the National, Danton's Death, The Power of Yes, Phèdre, Death and the King's Horseman, War Horse (also Broadway; Tony Award for Best Lighting), Waves (also international tour), some trace of her, Baby Girl/DNA/The Miracle, Women of Troy, War Horse, Saint Joan, Attempts on her Life, Caucasian Chalk Circle (tour and Cottesloe), Southwark Fair, Paul, Coram Boy, Translations, The House of Bernarda Alba, His Dark Materials (Olivier Award, Best Lighting), Play Without Words, Three Sisters, Jumpers, and Ivanov. For the RSC: As You Like It, The Prince of Homburg, The Seagull, Tales from Ovid, The Dispute, Uncle Vanya, Beckett's Shorts and The Mysteries. Other work in theatre includes Clybourne Park (also West End), Posh, The City, Krapp's Last Tape, Forty Winks, Boy Gets Girl, Night Songs, The Country, Dublin Carol and The Weir at the Royal Court; Love Never Dies, Oliver!, Ivanov and Evita in the West End; Dancing at Lughnasa and Moon for the Misbegotten at the Old Vic; the 25th anniversary tour of Les Misérables; Luise Miller, The Chalk Garden (Olivier Award for Best Lighting), The Man Who Had All the Luck, Othello, Absurdia, The Cut, Proof and Little Foxes for the Donmar; The Good Soul of Szechuan, Generations and Vernon God Little at the Young Vic; Blasted and Oliver Twist at the Lyric Hammersmith; Don Carlos at Sheffield Crucible and in the West End (Olivier Award for Best Lighting); and five productions for Complicite. Opera includes Doctor Dee for Manchester International Festival; Carmen, Faust, Rigoletto, The Marriage of Figaro, The Magic Flute and Macbeth for the Royal Opera House; Der Meistersinger, Billy Budd, Rusalka, St Matthew Passion, Cosi Fan Tutti, Giulio Cesare, Carmen, The Double Bill and La Bohème at Glyndebourne; Don Giovanni and Anna Bolena for the Metropolitan Opera, New York; Der Rosenkavalier, Satyagraha, La Clemenza di Tito, Götterdämmerung, The Rape of Lucretia, and Manon for ENO; Peter Grimes for Opera North; Tales of Hoffman for Salzburg Festival; and productions throughout Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. Dance includes Dorian Gray for Matthew Bourne; Baiser for Birmingham Royal Ballet; Seven Deadly Sins for The Royal Ballet; and Naked for the Ballet Boyz.
DREW BARR - Director, Australian Production
For over a decade, director Drew Barr has staged work at theatres across the United States. Currently, Drew is the Resident Director of War Horse at Lincoln Center Theater in New York City. Drew was the associate director for Simon McBurney's Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's All My Sons, starring John Lithgow, Dianne Wiest, Patrick Wilson and Katie Holmes. He was associate director for the original musical Sweet Smell of Success, also with Mr. Lithgow and Brian D'Arcy James, and directed by Nicholas Hytner. Drew's other New York directing credits include the Off-Broadway premieres of Karl Gadjusek's Greedy, Adam Bock's The Typographer's Dream, Barbara Blumenthal-Ehrlich's Hitting the Wall and Steve Murray's This Passion Thing. Regionally, Drew directed The Skin of our Teeth for Perseverance Theatre in Juneau, Alaska and has staged productions of Doubt, Frozen, Copenhagen, The Subject was Roses, Dinner with Friends, Sideman, Wit, and the musical Violet for PlayMakers Repertory in North Carolina. For Portland Stage Company in Maine, his productions include Two Rooms, I Am My Own Wife, The Woman in Black, Lend Me a Tenor, The Misanthrope and Wit; for Cleveland's Great Lakes Theater Festival Tartuffe, You Can't Take It With You, The Crucible, The Seagull and The Mousetrap. For the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, he directed Arsenic and Old Lace, The Spitfire Grill, Love's Labor's Lost, The Taming of the Shrew, The Fantasticks, You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown, Much Ado About Nothing and I Am My Own Wife (a co-production with Boise Contemporary Theater). For Boise Contemporary Theater, he also directed Tru, At Home at the Zoo and Souvenir.
Drew has directed Noel Coward's Hay Fever and George Bernard Shaw's Mrs. Warren's Profession for NYU's Graduate Acting Program; Nickel and Dimed for The Juilliard School; The Two Gentlemen of Verona for SUNY Purchase; William Wycherley's The Country Wife for the University of Washington's School of Drama and The Taming of the Shrew for University of Delaware's PTTP. He received his BA from Stanford University and his MFA from the Graduate Acting Program of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, and is a member of SDC and AEA.
FINN CALDWELL - Associate Puppetry Director
Finn Caldwell trained as an actor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He is currently Associate Puppetry Director for War Horse in London's West End. Recent theatre work includes Shrek (Theatre Royal Drury Lane, West End) A Dogs Heart with Complicite, Or You Could Kiss Me, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, War Horse and Saint Joan at the Royal National Theatre; Hamlet, Julius Caesar, and Desire Under the Elms for the RSC; Madam Butterfly with Anthony Mighella at the Metropolitan Opera House, Lowlife with Blind Summit at the International Mime Festival; Moving Words at the Soho; Elephant with Filter Theatre at the BAC; Macbeth (Albery Theatre, West End); Antigone (Cheek by Jowl, Old Vic Theatre); as well as productions of Romeo and Juliet, The Importance of Being Earnest and The Mystery Plays. Finn's production of The Adventures of Tom Thumb won a Scotsman Fringe First at the Edinburgh Festival and toured internationally.
CHRISTOPHER SHUTT - Sound Designer
Christopher Shutt trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School Work for the National includes War Horse (also Broadway), Emperor and Galilean, The White Guard, Burnt by the sun, every Good Boy Deserves Favour, Gethsemane, The hour We Knew Nothing of each other, Philistines, Happy Days (also world tour), Coram Boy (also on Broadway), A Dream Play, Measure for Measure, Mourning Becomes Electra, The PowerBook, Humble Boy, Play Without Words, Hamlet, Albert Speer, Not About Nightingales, Chips with Everything, The Homecoming and Machinal. Work for Complicite includes A Disappearing Number, The Elephant Vanishes, A Minute Too late, Mnemonic, Noise of Time, Street of Crocodiles, Three Lives of Lucie Cabrol and Caucasian Chalk Circle. Other work includes Playboy of the Western World, All About My Mother and Moon for the Misbegotten (also Broadway) at the Old Vic and on Broadway; School for Scandal and Julius Caesar at the Barbican; Prince of Homburg, Piaf, Hecuba and The Man Who Had All The luck at the Donmar; Ruined and Judgment Day at the Almeida; Kin, Aunt Dan and Lemon, Serious Money andRroad at the Royal Court; The Caretaker at Sheffield Crucible; Nocturnal at The Gate; Far Away at Bristol Old Vic; All My Sons on Broadway; The Bacchae and Little Otik for National Theatre of Scotland; King lear, Much Ado About Nothing, King John and Romeo and Juliet for the RSC; Beyond the Horizon and Spring Storm at the Royal & Derngate, Northampton and the National; and The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui in New York with Al Pacino and Steve Buscemi, music by Tom Waits Radio includes A Shropshire Lad, Tennyson's Maud, A Disappearing Number and After the Quake. Twice awarded the New York Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Sound Design for Mnemonic and Not About Nightingales Olivier Award nominations for Coram Boy, War Horse, Piaf and every Good Boy Deserves Favour. Christopher Shutt won Best Sound Design of a Play Tony Award for War Horse.
LEO WARNER and MARK GRIMMER for 59 Productions Ltd - Video Design
59 Productions specialises in the design and integration of film and projection technology into live performances and artistic environments including theatres, galleries and other venues. Recent work includes: War Horse (Lincoln Center/NT), Dark Sisters (Gotham Chamber Opera/ Music Theatre Group/Opera Company Philadelphia), Satyagraha (Metropolitan Opera/English National Opera), Five Truths (Victoria & Albert Museum/59), Two Boys (ENO/Met Opera), Fink's Perfect Darkness world tour (Ninja Tune/59), Roald Dahl's Twisted Tales (Lyric, Hammersmith), Beauty and the Beast (NT), Invitus Invitam and The Goldberg Project (Royal Ballet), Fräuleine Julie (Schaubühne, Berlin), Jónsi - Go (world tour), Les Misérables (UK and international tour), Idomeneo, The Pearl Fishers and Messiah (ENO), Thyestes (Arcola), Black Watch (National Theatre of Scotland), Al Gran Sole Carico d'Amore (Salzburg Festival), Wunschkonzert (Schauspiel Cologne), 125th Gala Anniversary (Met Opera), After Dido (ENO/Young Vic), Waves (NT/Lincoln Center), Dr Atomic (ENO/Met Opera), The Minotaur and Salome (ROH), Cherry Blossom (Traverse), Dorian Gray (New Adventures), Alex (Eleanor Lloyd Productions), ...some trace of her (NT), Seven Deadly Sins (Royal Ballet), Attempts on her Life (NT) and Roam (Grid Iron/NTS).
THE [AU] REVIEW
"Not only did it match the hype, but it exceeded it incredibly."
"War Horse really does deliver something rare, its genius lies not only in its puppetry but the way its meaning and impact is communicated through images more than words."
"It's something kids and adults will both enjoy on different levels."
"gallops away with your heart."
"The stagecraft is as dazzling as we've heard, particularly the extraordinary horse puppets."
"The horses in this blockbuster production from the National Theatre of Great Britain and South Africa's Handspring Puppet Company are truly theatrical wonders."
"This excellent production, with an all-Australian cast, will leave you breathless."
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
"The puppetry, developed by Handspring Puppet Company's Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler, is every bit as remarkable as you've been led to believe."
"The life-size horses, made of bent wood and fabric, are gifted with individuality, a sense of weight, rhythm and breath. Their neighs and squeals are remarkably expressive."
"War Horse is extraordinary theatre. Brilliant, bold, moving, it is a world-class fusion of performance, design and specially puppetry."
"The puppets and puppeteers capture the full range of equine movements and personality with astonishing vivacity and skill."
"Epic… Magnificent… Impressive"
"You can almost smell the sweat and leather and hear the galloping hooves of their magnificent "animals" manipulated by master puppeteers."
"War Horse is an absolute must see"
"A unique theatrical experience"
"Truly a spectacle that you have to experience"
ABC RADIO NATIONAL
"Spontaneous standing ovation"
"Unique and breathtaking theatre"
"A mind blowing, emotional journey"
"It's not to be missed"
"The operation of the larger than life horses and their extraordinary physical fidelity are only the most obvious accomplishments of the production. Equally admirable is the integration of English folk music into the story."
"The general physical skills of the entire cast – not just those two operate the main horses – are outstanding. Wooden poles are turned into the rails of a fence in the blink of an eye. They're held so still, with elbows bent, that we're certain the actors are leaning on those rails, not holding them aloft"
"Joey almost takes your breath away. There are many more such theatrical delights. The design and soundscapes are exceptional."
"It is difficult to experience this thrilling piece of theatre and not be amazed and incredibly moved by the amazing landmark made by War Horse on the theatrical landscape."
"The all Australian company of performers and artists under the direction of Drew Barr have re-created a production that will live long in the memory of anyone who sees it."
"A heart-stopping, achingly beautiful theatrical experience"
"Live theatre has the power to suspend disbelief and nurture evocative imagination. It can create magic. We should always be grateful for that. Last night a huge chestnut hunter called Joey was caught in barbed wire and his legs were being cut to pieces. I was crying into my partner's handkerchief, unaware and uncaring that this was theatre and I wasn't even crying for a horse – I was crying for a puppet. That, in itself, is magic."
"Astonishing lighting by Paule Constable, wonderful drawings and set design by Rae Smith and a great soundscape by Christopher Shutt."
MAN IN CHAIR – SIMON PARRIS
"Exhilarating, inspirational and heart wrenching"
"Is it too soon to proclaim War Horse the theatrical highlight of 2013?"
"War Horse is that rare combination of epic story and cutting edge artistry that makes live theatre such a thrill."
"Thrilling, epic and deeply moving"
"One doubts we'll see a more spectacular stage production in 2013"
RICHARD WILKINS – CHANNEL NINE
The National Theatre of Great Britain and Global Creatures