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.