Award-Winning Puppet Visits North East Ahead Of Sunderland Premiere

The National Theatre’s award-winning production of War Horse is making its long-anticipated North East premiere at the Sunderland Empire. To celebrate its three-week run on Wearside next spring the star of the show, life-sized puppet horse Joey, made an appearance at Gateshead’s Angel of the North.

Based on a novel by Michael Morpurgo, War Horse is the remarkable story of a young boy called Albert and his beloved horse, Joey, who has been requisitioned to fight for the British in World War I. A tale of courage and friendship, the production features groundbreaking puppetry by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, which brings breathing and galloping horses to life on stage.

The finished horse puppets weigh approximately 8-stones and are made of cane, leather and tyvec, a material used in book-binding (for the manes and tails). The torso is reinforced with aluminium and able to carry a rider on top. Three puppeteers control each horse at the head, the heart and the hind, working together to create its character and produce the sound effects.

Gosforth based actor Lee Armstrong, who is playing Albert, said:

“This is such an amazing show to be working on and I’m so excited about bringing War Horse to the North East. I’m really enjoying rehearsals, and last week I had the opportunity to meet Michael Morpurgo, the author of the original novel, in his home town of Iddesleigh in Devon. We took Joey to the place where the whole story started and it was an inspirational and moving experience being on the very spot where horses and men left Devon to fight for their country nearly 100 years ago.”

War Horse has been seen by over 4 million people worldwide since its premiere at the National Theatre in 2007 and continues its hugely successful run at the New London Theatre in the West End. A major tour of North America continues through 2013/14, and a new German language production entitled Gefährten will open in Berlin in October 2013.

Ben Phillips, General Manager at Sunderland Empire said:

“War Horse is a landmark production for the Sunderland Empire and Ambassador Theatre Group and we’re privileged that the National Theatre has chosen us as their preferred theatre in the North East for a limited three week run next year during their UK tour”.
War Horse is showing at Sunderland Empire from April 30 to 17 May 2014. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Ticket Centre on 0844 871 3022, online at or at the Sunderland Empire Box Office.

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