War Horse comes to the Lowry

Joey, the life-size, breathing, charging, galloping puppet horse came to Salford to celebrate the launch of War Horse.

By Manchester's Finest | 25 March 2013

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The Lowry welcomed Joey, the life-size, breathing, charging, galloping puppet horse to Salford to celebrate the launch of the North West premiere of War Horse, which comes to theatre this November.

Joey the War Horse puppet

It was Joey’s first visit to the region and at approximately 2.2 meters high and 3.3 meters long, he enjoyed a trot around The Lowry’s Box Office and braved the snow for a quick canter on The Quays.

Joey, who is made of cane, leather, aluminium and tyvec (a material used in book –binding) is operated on stage by three trained puppeteers – known as Joey Head, Joey Heart and Joey Hind. The three work together to create the character of the horse and produce the horse noises.

Shaun Mckee, Joey Head, admitted:
 “You reach a point where you become almost like a maestro at moving the part that you’re in charge of… One of the special things about puppetry and particularly the puppetry in this show is that after six months you’re still learning and that’s what keeps the horses alive. The horses are not prohibited by script in that there’s no specific dialogue that they have, which means every night can be a bit of an improvisation and every night things will change, which keeps every show fresh and exciting and it also means it’s a new experience every night.”

Tommy Luther, the Associate Puppetry Director for War Horse, was on hand to chat about how much work goes into the production and getting the puppetry just right.
Tommy has worked on the production from both the stage and the wings starting out as part of the original Joey operating team 5 years ago and has since directed the puppetry in the show in both London and Toronto.

Talking of Joey, Tommy said;
“We got this puppet out of the crate – it had taken eight months to build by twelve people doing these beautiful sculptures – and we said “Right is this going to work? Can it walk, can it breathe, can it act like a horse? Can we bring this story to life?”

Since War Horse opened at the National Theatre in October 2007, it has been seen by over 3 million people worldwide and won multiple awards including two Laurence Olivier Awards and six Tony Awards.

With almost 50, 000 tickets sold already, The Lowry’s 9 week run of War Horse (Wed 20 November 2013 – Sat 18 January 2014) is set to be the most successful show in The Lowry’s 12 year history and promises to be a highlight of the North West theatre calendar. The Lowry could potentially welcome over 100,000 people on to The Quays to see this internationally acclaimed production.

Robert Robson, The Lowry’s Artistic Director said;
“We’re delighted to be able to bring one of the most successful productions in British theatre history to The Lowry. It’s our ambition to inspire North West audiences with the best in performing and visual arts and War Horse will, without doubt, prove to be a theatre experience that we’ll remember forever. I’m certain it will capture the imagination of people of all ages when it arrives here in Salford in November.”


War Horse is the powerful story of a young boy called Albert and his beloved horse, Joey, who has been requisitioned to fight for the English in World War I. Caught in enemy crossfire, Joey ends up serving on both sides during the war before landing in no man’s land, while Albert, not old enough to enlist, embarks on a treacherous mission to find his horse and bring him home. A remarkable tale of courage, loyalty and friendship, War Horse features ground-breaking puppetry work by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, which brings breathing and galloping horses to life on stage.

War Horse
Wed 20 November 2013 – Sat 18 January 2014
Lyric Theatre
Lowry Box Office Information
Telephone 0843 2086005
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays M50 3AZ