War Horse: Currently On Broadway, Movie Coming X-mas Day

War Horse: Currently On Broadway, Movie Coming X-mas Day

Right now, theatre fans can see the award-winning play, War Horse, at the West End’s New London Theatre and on Broadway at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre. Come Christmas Day, fans of Michael Morpurgo’s popular children’s novel will be able to buy War Horse tickets to a film adaptation directed by Steven Spielberg.

War Horse is an epic drama about a young man, Albert, searching for his beloved horse, Joey. The young man’s father sold the horse to the British Calvary at the start of World War I.

If you can, see the play before you see the movie. Part of the charm of the play is the way the Handspring Puppet Company brings the horses to life. It’s absolutely awe-inspiring. Suffice to say, that kind of magic will not be present in the film, which will undoubtedly use computer generated horses.

And movie audiences definitely won’t experience the same wave of emotion theatre audiences feel when a tank—the cavalry killer—makes its first appearance.

War Horse the play is an epic. It deals with two things that are extremely hard to pull off in a theatre, war and horses. Its staging takes imagination and the execution of that staging calls for real talent.

Hollywood, on the other hand, has been making movies about war and horses for nearly 100 years. It’s not a big deal.

Therefore, War Horse the film will have to rely on the same dramatic elements that the play, written by Nick Stafford, conveys so effectively and eloquently. Those elements are war is hell and humanity has an unwavering passion for horses.

War Horse is directed by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris. The horses are choreographed by Toby Sedgwick. The Broadway cast includes Seth Numrich, Matt Doyle, and Stephen Plunkett. The play runs about 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Land of Punt thought it would be interesting to look at other plays that deal with either war or horses (or animals in general). Those are two topics that challenge the imagination of every stage director.

Plays About War
For Services Rendered
Premiered 1932
Written by Somerset Maugham

For Services Rendered is widely regarded as a decent work of dramaturgy. Despite its high quality, the play flopped when it debuted on London’s West End in 1932. It has a definite anti-war message and at the time the sentiment wasn’t very popular. The play deals with the fallout of the Great War on an English family.

Journey’s End
Premiered 1928
Written by R.C. Sherriff

Journey’s End was extremely popular back in the day and the original cast featured a 21-year-old Laurence Olivier. The play was made into a film in 1930. Sherriff’s play takes place over four days near the end of the Great War and revolves around a group of British Officers.

Lysistrata
Premiered 411 BC
Written by Aristophanes

In one of Aristophanes 11 surviving plays, the title character persuades women to withhold sex from the soldiers fighting the Peloponnesian War in order to get them to negotiate a peace—it’s similar to an episode of M*A*S*H. The play is more about the battle of the sexes than anything but makes our list due to its age and popularity.

Mother Courage and Her Children
Premiered 1941
Written by Bertolt Brecht and Margarete Steffin

Mother Courage and Her Children is one of the greatest anti-war plays of all time and one of the greatest plays of the 20th century. Although written as a response to Germany invading Poland in 1939, Mother Courage takes place during the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648). The play’s titular characters tries to profit from a war that eventually takes the lives of her three children.

My Boy Jack
Premiered 1997
Written by David Haig

My Boy Jack is about author Rudyard Kipling dealing with the death of his son who died in World War I. The play’s title is taken from a 1915 Kipling poem. The work was written by English actor David Haig. He played Rudyard on stage and in a television adaptation that also starred Kim Cattrall and Daniel Radcliffe.

Plays About Horses (Animals)
Equus
Premiered 1973
Written by Peter Shaffer

Equus is an intense drama about a psychiatrist who treats a man that has inappropriate relationships with horses. Shaffer got the idea for this play after hearing about a young man from a town near London who blinded six horses. This is a very heady play; the type that is usually described with words like “mores” and “zeitgeist.”

Three Men on a Horse
Premiered 1935
Written by George Abbott and John Cecil Holm

Three Men on a Horse is a comedy about a man who can pick the winning horse in any race as long as he never places a bet. This play has been produced several times over the years with one incarnation starring Tony Randall, Jack Klugman, Jerry Stiller, and Julie Hagerty.

The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia?
Premiered 2002
Written by Edward Albee

The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia? is about an architect who falls in love with a goat. The play challenges the audience’s ideas of right and wrong as well as their language skills—Albee uses a lot of word play and grammatical arguments. For instance, our word “tragedy” comes from the Greek word meaning “goat song.” The original Broadway cast starred Bill Pullman and Mercedes Ruehl.

Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
Premiered 2011
Written by Rajv Joseph

Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo opened on Broadway in 2011 with Robin Williams playing the part of the Bengal tiger. No, he wasn’t operated by puppeteers or wearing something created by Julie Taymor. He just walked around in ragged togs. The story is about a tiger that is shot during the chaos of the Iraq War and comes back as a ghost to haunt a U.S. soldier.

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