War Horse - the theater performance

War Horse, the theater performance based on the book of the same name, is a worldwide phenomenon. Since 2007 it has been packed in the National Theater in London. The production was brought to the Netherlands and started with Dutch actors at the Holland Festival 2014. The first performances were in Carré. After Amsterdam, the piece toured five theaters in the country. A special feature of the performance are the horses that trot across the stage like big dolls. The story takes place during the First World War, where horses were claimed to serve in battle.

Youth book War Horse

Eight million horses died during the First World War. They were wounded by war, but more often they died of exhaustion, cold, hunger and illness. Michael Morpurgo from Iddesleigh in England wrote a youth book about it. In the village pub war veterans regularly recalled the horrors of that war and the intense bond between man and horse on the battlefield. The book appeared in 1982 and was not initially noticed. The reason why it was not immediately a success is sought in the subject. Children did not really want to read about the First World War, people initially thought.

National Theater and Handspring Puppet Company

The book was nominated for a large book prize in England, the Whitebread Children's Book Award, but was not awarded. Later the story was picked up by the National Theater and together with the Handspring Puppet Company it was made into a theater performance. Only then did the book become a widely read success and one translation followed after the other. The book can now be read in 47 languages.

London National Theater

The War Horse theater production started in London in 2007 with its success. The London National Theater has welcomed millions of visitors worldwide with various international editions. The show was an inspiration for Stephen Spielberg, who made a film about it. War Horse premiered on Saturday, June 14, 2014 in the Netherlands, in Carré. The performance was part of the Holland Festival.

Theater performance Joop and Janine van den Ende

War Horse Netherlands is an initiative of the Theater Alliance Foundation of Joop and Janine van den Ende together with six theaters.


The story is about a friendship between a farm boy, Albert, and his horse. The British army buys horses to serve in the war and Albert's horse is also taken. The boy travels after his horse, he wants to buy him back.

Horse dolls

War Horse is a theater production with music, theater and puppetry. Especially the dolls make an impression. The horse dolls are life-size and made of rattan and aluminum. Doll makers from the workshop of the South African Handspring Puppet Company worked with the fourteen for eight months on the animals for the Dutch War Horse. The height at the withers is two meters and everything about the dolls is made by hand.


The dolls are so large because an adult human must be able to stand upright in the animal. Two men form the interior of the horse. There is a head, a heart an ass. The heart and the hind form the front and rear. The third is the head, the head. That puppeteer walks next to the horse and serves the head. The puppeteer can lay the ears flat with a rod or turn them forward and leave them alert.

Puppeteers who neigh

The puppeteers received training for the movements and the sound. The puppeteer - they call themselves puppeteers - who let the horses live have taken a neighing course, among other things. With trembling lips and a tongue tip-r, the horse men make a “Brrr hihihii!” The players sniff, breathe and move like horses. In the Dutch version, fifteen puppet players were trained to play as a horse in the Dutch War Horse. To gain knowledge of horses, they visited the mounted police. There they learned how big and powerful horses are. On the stage they have to translate that knowledge into movements of the horse.

Sound of hooves and ears that go flat

The hoof of the horse puppets must plump on the boards in a real horse way and with a recognizable horse sound. The red-brown fox and the black stallion are the main characters. The puppeteers let the horses graze, trot and gallop. The animals can move and scare their ears, they can panic and run away. The horses are animals and yet dolls.

Training for the puppeteers

The game is tough for the puppeteers. The head, together with the body, weighs fifty kilos. The players are therefore also physically trained. They have to go through an intensive training program to get in shape and stay that way during the performances. To stay flexible, they also receive yoga classes. The position of the head is the heaviest. That head must raise his arms for an hour and a half and bear seven kilos of a horse's head. You hardly see the men once they are in the horse. It's not about the puppeteers, it's about the horses.

Leading actor Albert

Kay Greidanus plays the role of Albert in the Dutch version. Greidanus has just graduated from the Maastricht Theater School. In the story he goes looking for his horse and goes behind the front lines. In real life he cannot ride horses, but in the play he gallops across the stage. It seems to be going fast, but that is the illusion of the theater. The scene is extra heavy for the puppy eaters, because they not only have to wear the horse doll, but also the boy who sits on it.

Tour War Horse

TheaterCityPeriod of time
Royal Theater CarréAmsterdam30 May to 28 September 2014
new Luxor TheaterRotterdam2 October to 7 December 2014 and 4 March to 29 March 2015
Chassé TheaterBredaDecember 11, 2014 through January 4, 2015
Martini PlazaGroningenJanuary 8 to February 1, 2015
Orpheus theaterApeldoorn5 February to 1 March 2015
Theater HeerlenHeerlenApril 1 to April 19, 2015

Video: War Horse Trailer (February 2020).

Leave Your Comment