National Theatre: Staging War Horse Exhibition

If you’re in London, walking on the South Bank, perhaps looking for a free theatre activity to indulge in, why not pop into the National Theatre to view the Staging War Horse Exhibition? It is being held in the Lyttelton Exhibition Area, which Teaching Drama did struggle to find at first among the winding staircases of the National.

Many free exhibitions can tend to be a bit ropey, with only have one or two props from the show on display, surrounded by lots of promotional material for tickets. This War Horse exhibition however, is an exception to that rule. Bringing War Horse to the stage involved every department of the National, this exhibition looks at all of the contributions that came together to create the play.

The literature on the walls reveals the process of taking War Horse from page to stage – starting with Michael Morpurgo’s book and then developing the concept with the National and South African company Handspring Puppet Company. One of the most interesting resources to view as part of the exhibition is the video footage of the original rehearsals which took place at the National’s studio space. It shows performers exploring the use of puppets to tell the story of War Horse.There are also a number of other videos which contain interviews with puppet makers and lighting designers talking about why they chose certain design elements.

Props from the performance are on display and a giant fact sheet containing all of War Horses vital statistics. Another nice interactive element is a projector that allows visitors to experiment with using shadow puppets, an element which was included in the original production.

For a free exhibit, this has a lot of information to offer. If you have a passion for adaptation and exploring how it is done, or have a soft spot for War Horse it is well worth a visit if you are in the area.

The exhibit is free to visit and will continue until 9 September 2012.

Wicked Young Writers’ Award

The Wicked Young Writers’ Award is back for the third year running. The award encourages writing talent throughout the UK. Young people aged five to 25 can enter.

War Horse author, Michael Morpurgo is a strong advocate, speaking of the Wicked Young Writers’ Award as something, ‘very close to my heart’.

Morpurgpo said: ‘Last year my fellow judges and I were delighted to read so many stories that were passionately felt and honestly written down, and where the young writers had found their own unique voices. I’m looking forward to another successful year.’

The Wicked Young Writers’ Award is free to enter; entries must be no longer than 750 words and can be of any genre. Applicants may write in poetry or prose. The award is split into five categories; ages 5-7, 8-10, 11-14, 15-17 and entrants aged 18-25 compete for the Gregory Maguire Award.

The competition encourages teachers to enter work on behalf of their students through the schools’ entry form. The Wicked Young Writers’ Award website has a page for teacher’s offering video tips to encourage writing in the classroom. There is also a set of teacher’s notes available for download. The resources can be found here:

In the autumn, a shortlist of 100 finalists will be announced. These finalists will receive a published 2012 Wicked Young Writers’ Award Anthology which will include their own writing. The 18-25-year-old category will have their work published in an e-Book.

One winner will be chosen for each category, with the winner receiving four tickets to see Wicked on the West End and the chance to meet the cast after the show. They will also receive a writing masterclass with one of the competition’s judges.

Entry submission closes on 31 July. To find out more about the competition and how to enter visit