Joey’s New Home: Original War Horse Stage Puppet Retired to London’s Victoria and Albert Museum

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Even puppets have to retire, sooner or later. That’s the case for the original War Horse puppet Joey from the National Theatre production in London. The play goes on, but the working pieces of the puppet deserve a rest, so a new Joey puppet is now on stage, while the original one takes up residence in the puppet equivalent of deep green pastures: an exhibit in the famed Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

War Horse has now been staged in Australia, the United States, Canada and Germany and the likeness of Joey is known worldwide.  The phenomenal success of this simple story of a horse caught in the chaos of war transcends its book, stage and cinema interpretations in the way that it resonates with audiences everywhere on the subjects of war, peace, innocence, fear, kindness and love.

Put the Victoria and Albert Museum at the top of your list of places to visit on your next trip to London.

War Horse: Joey Center Stage at Horse Trust Charity to Honor World War I Horses

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That busy celebrity Joey, a.k.a. “War Horse” from the sell-out stage play, did his part for charity last weekend when he left the London theatre district and headed to the countryside. His destination was The Horse Trust’s Home of Rest for Horses in Speen, Buckinghamshire, to celebrate the grand re-opening of the charity’s new stable, education center and even a museum that details the history of horses in World War I.

War Horse NewsThe Horse Trust is the oldest horse-related charity in the world. It began in 1886 as the “Home of Rest for Horses” so that London taxi cab horses could have a break and get some fresh air.

During World War I, the Trust helped horses like Joey at the front in France with a specially-designed horse ambulance that was used to transport injured horses to hospitals. The ambulances transported over 1,000 horses over 13,000 miles of rough terrain during the war.

After the war, the charity continued to assist horses in need and even today serves as a retirement home for police and military horses. In addition, the well-endowed charity has pumped $20 million pounds into equine research and studies to benefit the health and welfare of the horse.

Princess Anne is the royal patron of the charity, and was delighted to renew her acquaintance with Joey off the stage.

Joey, of course, is no stranger to royalty. Watch this clip of the War Horse salute to the British Queen at her Jubilee float down the Thames river a year ago.

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Where will Joey show up next? You never know who’s going to be giving him a tenuous pat as he continues his important job of helping people learn more about war horse history and, at the same time, strengthening the bond between horses and humans on a very special level.

Fran Jurga information

War Horse Sightings: On the Road with the Theater Character Who Goes Beyond the Stage

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It’s April 9th. Do you know where your favorite war horse is today?

Joey could be anywhere. As this little video shows, he has captured the hearts and imagination of the public by going out into crowded events and flying the War Horse flag. It’s possible that the hordes of people who see him (and his trailer, and his entourage) in his promotional appearances have no idea who he is. They just see a giant articulated horse puppet and are delighted.

To event planners and publicists, he’s a welcome guest. He animates the crowd and adds vitality wherever in the world he goes.

The off-stage antics of Joey are legendary. His royal rooftop rearing for the Queen’s Jubilee passing barge possibly topped them all, but he’s not done yet, and there’s no question that his partners in London and wherever in the world the stage play “War Horse” is on have not run out of ideas yet.

If you have photos of a Joey sighting, post them on the War Horse News Facebook page, we’d love to see them! Here’s a preview for the opening of War Horse in Columbus, Ohio later this month:

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War Horse, Future Edition: High-Tech Storybook iPad App Launches at London Apple Store

Sam Lane reports from London on Michael Morpurgo’s red suit, bumbling fingers, and steadfast storytelling mission

War Horse app title screen

The War Horse app is beautifully designed for use by children and adults alike.

The phenomenon that is War Horse has been brought into the 21st Century as the story-based War Horse iPad App launches for the princely sum of £9.99 ($13.99 in the US iTunes Store).

To celebrate this news, author Michael Morpurgo was brought into the Regent Street Apple Shop in London on Saturday, November 24 to demonstrate and read from the iPad version of the book as well as answer a few questions about his life and work.

Michael Morpurgo marquee at the Apple Store in London

Low-tech Michael Morpurgo on a high-tech marquee at the Apple Store in London (Sam Lane Photo)

Morpurgo was late to arrive, but he eventually showed up, dressed in his crumpled and unfashionable burgundy suit, looking a little like a disheveled schoolteacher.

I remembered that I was not particularly keen about the book and I questioned what I was actually doing there. Then he started to talk…

Michael Morpurgo

Michael Morpurgo always seems to have on a red jacket. For the iPad launch, he was dressed in red from head to toe. (Sam Lane photo)

He’s a humble guy. He’s entertaining and captivating. The evening was a great mix of humor and story-telling. He told of his passion for books inherited from his mother, who read her favorite books to him. He told of his years as a primary school teacher — which made me wonder if he had that suit all these years.

He spoke about his technophobia and even revealed that he still writes in pen and that his wife types for him. And he made no secret of his fears when he confessed that he could not even open the War Horse app! He inviting a boy from the audience up to the stage to do it, and of course it was open in seconds!

Michael Morpurgo is not afraid to belittle himself in public, in spite of his success as the author of over 100 books.

Michael Morpurgo recruits an assistant

Morpurgo claimed to be unable to even open the iPad app for War Horse. But a young boy in the audience was recruited to assist. (Sam Lane photo)

The War Horse phenomenon escalated when Steven Spielberg made the film. Up until then, the book had sold about 1000 copies a year and was translated into just two languages. After the success of the stage show and then “the call” from Steven Spielberg, global success meant that the book is now translated into over 40 languages.

In the United Kingdom in January 2012, War Horse was the bestselling book across both adult and children’s books markets, thirty years after it was first published.

I was interested to hear that Morpurgo never intended for the book to be a children’s book. It was inspired by a conversation he had in his Devonshire village with a First World War veteran in the 1970s. His name was Will. Will had been in the Yeomanry and revealed in some candid conversations that he spoke to his horse about his fears and “the horse listened”.

Sample pages from the War Horse story app

The new War Horse iPad app contains the entire book, beautifully illustrated for children. You can also listen to author Michael Morpurgo read the book. And the book is linked to history pages that tell the story of World War I.

There were moments when I felt real emotion in his account of Will’s story, how he listened to the old man who as a young soldier went to a war where so few came back — men or horses.

We also had a special guest: a British Army Private dressed from the era. His outfit and working conditions were described by a chap from the Imperial War Museum.

Michael Morpurgo and Imperial War Museum experts

The Imperial War Museum played a role in the app and in the evening at the Apple Store. An expert explained some World War I history and an accurately-attired assistant modeled the type of uniform that British soldiers wore. (Sam Lane photo)

Apparently the iPad app isn’t just the story of Joey; it also timelines the First World War, gives details of the uniforms and the locations and explains military decisions that took place.

Michael Morpurgo is genuinely and openly delighted that the story he wrote touches young and old alike whether it’s the book, the play, the film or the app–just don’t ask him how to use it!

Sam Lane is a freelance photographer, blogger and marketer in London. The daughter of a well-known equine veterinarian, she has been a key asset for War Horse News and the Jurga Report with on-the-ground photography and reporting in London. She reported on the London premiere of the film.

Who’s on First? No, Hooves on First! War Horse’s Broadway Joey Joins the NY Mets to Support Seraphim12 Foundation’s Equine Advocacy Fund

Remember that great Abbott and Costello dialogue about “Who’s on First”? It was from their 1945 film, “The Naughty Nineties”, but at almost any party you can probably find someone who can recite it! (Or at least try!)

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Summer may be on the wane but baseball is going strong. But hang on to your Louisville Slugger for this news: Major League Baseball is going all out to support a charity dedicated to ending horse slaughter. A fundraiser hosted by the New York Mets on Monday, September 10 will bring together horses and baseball in a unique event that will be fun and unforgettable.

Who’s on first? No, no, Abbott! Hooves on first.

And with a tip of the ball cap to Abbott and Costello, and a tongue in the cheek, the event has been dubbed “Hooves on First”.

The New York Mets have announced that they will partner with the Seraphim12 Foundation on “Hooves on First” Night Monday, September 10 at Citi Field when the Mets host the Washington Nationals at 7:10 pm. The fundraiser will raise awareness about the treatment of horses.

“Joey,” the life-size horse puppet from the Tony Award-winning play War Horse at New York’s Lincoln Center will be appearing pre-game on Mets Plaza and in-game during the seventh-inning stretch.

Seraphim12 Foundation’s horse ambassador, “Chip,” will also be greeting fans pre-game near Mets Plaza. Chip often works with inner city and autistic children who have never seen or touched a horse before.

Rock icon Paul Rodgers, noted for resurrecting Queen and a long list of hit recordings, will be singing the National Anthem that night. A devoted advocate for horses, Rodgers has agreed to donate 100% of the proceeds of his latest release, “With Our Love,” which charted at No. 4 on rock radio, to Seraphim12 Foundation and the UK-based Racehorse Sanctuary. These proceeds have already paid for the rescue and extended care for five abused horses.

Each ticket purchased through the web address Mets.com/Horse will raise money for Seraphim12 Foundation, which is a 501 (c)(3) Not-For-Profit “dedicated to creating a sympathetic balance between horse and (hu)man through compassion, education and legislation. for America’s horses”, according to its Facebook page.

Fans buying tickets through this offer will receive a “Hooves on First” t-shirt. With each ticket sold, the Foundation will receive a rebate from the Mets. Horse advocates will be able to sit together with family, friends, and fellow “horse angels” in the Big Apple reserved seating.

Tickets are available at Mets.com/Horse and (718) 507-TIXX; prices in the Big Apple seating zone begin at $30.