Joey from WAR HORSE visits London Children’s Hospital

Joey-Evelina089Members of the cast of the National Theatre’s production of War Horse made a special visit to Evelina London Children’s Hospital, on the site of St Thomas’ Hospital (Wednesday 16 December at 1.30pm.)  The visit marks the screening of NT Live’s filmed version of the multi-award winning production of War Horse at the MediCinema at St Thomas’ Hospital, London this  evening.

From 1.30pm – 2pm, Joey, the life-size puppet horse made his way through the children’s hospital with members of the West End cast, including James Backway as Albert and Ben Murray as Song Man who entertained the children and staff with Christmas Carols and songs from the show.

Joey-Evelina017-2The cast were delighted to have been invited to the hospital just before Christmas.  Actor  James Backway said:  ‘We were all so excited to have the opportunity to bring a little bit of Devon sunshine to children who we know are all being really brave.  It’s not an easy time to be in hospital if you are an adult, but for a child at Christmas, it must be particularly difficult.  They absolutely loved meeting Joey, and we were privileged to have had the opportunity to meet them.’

Marian Ridley, Director of Evelina London said:  ‘It’s great to welcome the National, our South Bank neighbours, to Evelina London for what will be a wonderful surprise for the children we care for.  It was a joy to see the faces of our young patients when they saw Joey trotting through the hospital.’

Kat Mason, Chief Executive of the charity MediCinema says: ‘We are delighted to be partnering with NT Live and Evelina London on this exciting live event.  You only have to witness the looks on our patients’ faces as they walk through the doors of MediCinema to understand the true meaning and value of escapism and normality in such an environment – and this is especially true at this time of year.  For just a few short hours we can transport the children and their families away from the hospital and their illness into the magic of the cinema and the film or production – and the results are extraordinary.  We are so grateful to NT Live and all our other partners and donors without whom this just wouldn’t be possible.’

The puppeteers are:  Gareth Aled (Joey Head), Michael Taibi (Joey Heart) and Antony Antunes (Joey Hind).   Other War Horse cast members who were present at the Evelina Ward included: Drew Dillon, Harry de Moraville, Tony McGeever, Lowry Walton, Shaun McCourt, Matt Phillips, Adam Jones, Clare Louise Connolly and Adam Scott.

MediCinema, an independently funded charity at St Thomas’ Hospital screens a wide range of films for patients, their families and carers to allow them to switch off from the reality of their hospital stay and treatment.  This screening is part of a programme being run at some of MediCinema’s seven sites across the UK, to allow patients the opportunity to see  the NT Live version of War Horse, which has already been seen by over 400,000 people world-wide.

The National Theatre’s production of War Horse adapted from Michael Morpurgo’s best-selling novel by Nick Stafford is a story about a boy and his horse set in Devon and France, and against the backdrop of the First World War and running at the New London Theatre in the West End until 12 March 2016.  Egmont Publishing have donated a selection of children’s books by Michael Morpurgo and other authors to coincide with the visit.

War Horse is directed by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, adapted from Michael Morpurgo’s novel by Nick Stafford, designed by Rae Smith, with puppet direction, design and fabrication by Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler for Handspring Puppet Company, lighting by Paule Constable, and movement and horse choreography by Toby Sedgwick, with video design by Leo Warner and Mark Grimmer, songmaker John Tams, music by Adrian Sutton and sound by Christopher Shutt.

Photos: Ellie Kurttz

War Horse is playing at the New London Theatre until 12 March 2016. Click here to buy tickets to see the show before it closes