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Mervyn Millar was born in London in 1974. He is a theatre director and puppetry specialist. He has provided puppetry to major companies including the Royal Shakespeare Company, National Theatre Studio, NY Education, theatre-rites, Lyric Hammersmith, Bristol Old Vic, the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Liverpool Playhouse and Battersea Arts Centre. He was formerly director of the Finborough Theatre where he worked developing new plays.

Horse's Mouth, The
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Horse's Mouth, The

How Handspring and the National Theatre made 'War Horse'

Mervyn Millar
War Horse has been an international stage phenomenon. Since its first appearance on stage in 2007, it has been seen by thousands of people and is currently been produced as a Hollywood film, directed by Steven Spielberg. The London production was showered with awards including Olivier, Evening Standard and London Critics' Circle Theatre Awards, all praising it for its innovative use of puppetry. The play will shortly commence a new run in New York, running simultaneously with the UK production .

This new book gives readers a superb overview of the process of making the magnificent puppets which are at the centre of War Horse. War Horse is in fact the third in a trilogy of animal plays devoted to Chimpanzees, Giraffes and Horses which Handspring made between 2000 and 2007. This book puts War Horse into that context.

This book gives you a peek behind the scenes, describing how Tom Morris, director at the National Theatre, interacted with Handspring in developing ideas for the staging of the piece. It also gives a clear account of how the puppets were designed and constructed. Finally it gives a fascinating account of the way the puppeteers were trained to use these complex mechanical animals, taking the reader through workshops, rehearsals and up to the thrilling first performances.

Definitely one for the drama department library –  Teaching Drama

Oberon Books, UK | 978-1-84943-059-3 | Sales rights: Australia/NZ | PB