War Horse: An Unparalleled Experience

By: Katie Keyser ’16
Staff Writer

The play War Horse, filmed and broadcasted by National Theatre Live, was shown in Geiger-Reeves Auditorium on Apr. 19 and Apr. 22.

National Theatre Live is a company that films “the best of British theatre” live so that theater venues around the world are able to see a production as it is happening. Although many European venues receive these screenings as the plays are performed, other venues see the productions as live depending on their time zone.

“Being able to bring this high quality cultural event to campus is wonderful for everyone,” Marilyn Anker, coordinator of cultural events, said. “At Peddie, where everyone’s schedule is packed every day, it is just awesome to have this right at our own doorstep.”

In War Horse, Albert, a teenage boy born into a poor family in England, forms a strong relationship with Joey, a horse that his father bought with the money saved for their farm’s mortgage. When World War I begins, Albert’s father tries to earn more money by selling Joey into the cavalry. Albert is heartbroken and constantly worries about Joey. After Albert hears that a soldier who has been riding Joey in cavalry raids was killed, he runs away from home to enlist into the army in order to find Joey and bring him home.

“It was amazing. I connected with the characters as if I was in the theater when they performed it,” Kelsie Sirak ’16, audience member, said.

The horses in the cavalry are actually life-size puppets of horses that have multiple puppeteers moving different parts of the horses at once.

“I enjoyed War Horse the most, because the puppetry was incredibly well done,” Hannah Rothberg ’16, audience member, said.

This is the first year that Peddie has broadcasted the live performances. However, the idea of bringing live theatre to Peddie originated two years ago, when the Arts Department organized a Cultural Arts trip to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time at Monmouth University, a venue for the National Theatre Live productions.

“We went there with a group of about 25 people and unanimously found the experience to be so extraordinary that we decided to look into how Peddie could become one of the national sites for these High Definition screenings of plays,” Cathy Watkins, arts department chair, said.

Peddie and Monmouth University are the only venues in New Jersey that hold National Theatre Live screenings. Throughout the school year, the Peddie community has been given the opportunity to see the productions The Audience, Othello, Macbeth and Frankenstein.

Frankenstein was my favorite because I was so impressed with the monster’s acting,” Josie Anker ’15, audience member, said. “The whole show was very moving.”

As students watched these performances throughout the year, they found their favorite show based on the plot, set-up, or characters.

“I liked Macbeth because the acting was superb and they were able to do so much with such a sparse set,” Rachel Greaney ’16, audience member, said.

“The quality is great, it´s in the theater and the seats are comfortable, and the shows make the whole thing,” Sirak said. “I only wish there were more plays shown, to provide more variety.”

“[National Theatre Live] is a great opportunity to broaden our students’ cultural horizons, and expose kids to sophisticated theatrical productions for which they do not have to pay the high cost of admission,” Elizabeth Sherman, arts department teacher, said. “Theater can be cost prohibitive, and Peddie is providing students with a gift that I hope more students will come to appreciate.”