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Spring 2011 Issue No. 55

War Horse


We are thrilled to be co-producing the National Theatre of Great Britain’s production of War

Lincoln Center Theater Review A publication of Lincoln Center Theater Spring 2011, Issue Number 55 Alexis Gargagliano, Editor John Guare, Anne Cattaneo, Executive Editors Tamar Cohen, Art Direction, Design David Leopold, Picture Editor Carol Anderson, Copy Editor

Horse at the Vivian Beaumont Theater with an all-American cast, and we are grateful to the many people in London and in New York who made this amazing production possible. We have had a close relationship with the National for many years—starting with Carousel—and we are honored to be working with them once again.

Lincoln Center Theater André Bishop Bernard Gersten Artistic Director Executive Producer Board of Directors, The Vivian Beaumont Theater, Inc. J. Tomilson Hill, Chairman Eric M. Mindich, President John B. Beinecke, Chairman, Executive Committee John W. Rowe, Treasurer Brooke Garber Neidich, Secretary Robert E. Linton Ninah Lynne Phyllis Mailman Ellen R. Marram John Morning Mrs. Donald Newhouse Augustus K. Oliver Mrs. Alton E. Peters Elihu Rose Stephanie Shuman Howard Sloan David F. Solomon Ira J. Statfeld Leonard Tow Tracey Travis Robert G. Wilmers William D. Zabel

we aspired to capture the history, the extraordinary animal love, and the magic of puppetry

War Horse

that ignite this spectacular production.—The Editors

Writing War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

4

The War to End All Wars by Russell Freedman

6

The Magical Life of Objects: An Interview with Adrian Kohler & Basil Jones

10

For the Love of Dogs by Jay Kopelman

15

Hints on Horses by Matthew Beaumont Parrington

19

Bringing a Horse Onstage by Monty Roberts

20

Extraordinary Equine Love

23

TO READ OUR SPECIAL BONUS MATERIAL AND TO SUBSCRIBE to the magazine, please go to the Lincoln Center Theater Review website—www.lctreview.org.

Which War?

24

© 2011 Lincoln Center Theater, a not-for-profit organization. All rights reserved.

Cover photograph of puppet Joey from War Horse by Scott Irvine, 2011. www.scottirvine.net

John B. Beinecke, Linda LeRoy Janklow, Chairmen Emeriti Hon. John V. Lindsay, Founding Chairman Constance L. Clapp, Anna E. Crouse, Ellen Katz, Ray Larsen, Victor H. Palmieri, Lowell M. Schulman, John C. Whitehead, Honorary Trustees The Rosenthal Family Foundation is the Lincoln Center Theater Review’s founding and sustaining donor. Special thanks to the Drue Heinz Trust for supporting the Lincoln Center Theater Review.

Photograph courtesy of the Cultural Collections, University of Newcastle, Australia.

André Bishop Debra Black Allison M. Blinken Mrs. Leonard Block James-Keith Brown H. Rodgin Cohen Jonathan Z. Cohen Ida Cole Donald G. Drapkin Curtland E. Fields Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Bernard Gersten Ephraim Gildor Marlene Hess Linda LeRoy Janklow Jane Lisman Katz Kewsong Lee Memrie M. Lewis

War Horse is a majestic work of imagination, and in this issue of Lincoln Center Theater Review

This issue of the Lincoln Center Theater Review is supported by The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation.

2

Back cover photograph by Eadweard Muybridge, Leland Stanford, Jr., on his Pony Gypsy—Phases of a Stride by a Pony While Cantering, 1879. © Wilson Centre for Photography.

Off we march!

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

3


We are thrilled to be co-producing the National Theatre of Great Britain’s production of War

Lincoln Center Theater Review A publication of Lincoln Center Theater Spring 2011, Issue Number 55 Alexis Gargagliano, Editor John Guare, Anne Cattaneo, Executive Editors Tamar Cohen, Art Direction, Design David Leopold, Picture Editor Carol Anderson, Copy Editor

Horse at the Vivian Beaumont Theater with an all-American cast, and we are grateful to the many people in London and in New York who made this amazing production possible. We have had a close relationship with the National for many years—starting with Carousel—and we are honored to be working with them once again.

Lincoln Center Theater André Bishop Bernard Gersten Artistic Director Executive Producer Board of Directors, The Vivian Beaumont Theater, Inc. J. Tomilson Hill, Chairman Eric M. Mindich, President John B. Beinecke, Chairman, Executive Committee John W. Rowe, Treasurer Brooke Garber Neidich, Secretary Robert E. Linton Ninah Lynne Phyllis Mailman Ellen R. Marram John Morning Mrs. Donald Newhouse Augustus K. Oliver Mrs. Alton E. Peters Elihu Rose Stephanie Shuman Howard Sloan David F. Solomon Ira J. Statfeld Leonard Tow Tracey Travis Robert G. Wilmers William D. Zabel

we aspired to capture the history, the extraordinary animal love, and the magic of puppetry

War Horse

that ignite this spectacular production.—The Editors

Writing War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

4

The War to End All Wars by Russell Freedman

6

The Magical Life of Objects: An Interview with Adrian Kohler & Basil Jones

10

For the Love of Dogs by Jay Kopelman

15

Hints on Horses by Matthew Beaumont Parrington

19

Bringing a Horse Onstage by Monty Roberts

20

Extraordinary Equine Love

23

TO READ OUR SPECIAL BONUS MATERIAL AND TO SUBSCRIBE to the magazine, please go to the Lincoln Center Theater Review website—www.lctreview.org.

Which War?

24

© 2011 Lincoln Center Theater, a not-for-profit organization. All rights reserved.

Cover photograph of puppet Joey from War Horse by Scott Irvine, 2011. www.scottirvine.net

John B. Beinecke, Linda LeRoy Janklow, Chairmen Emeriti Hon. John V. Lindsay, Founding Chairman Constance L. Clapp, Anna E. Crouse, Ellen Katz, Ray Larsen, Victor H. Palmieri, Lowell M. Schulman, John C. Whitehead, Honorary Trustees The Rosenthal Family Foundation is the Lincoln Center Theater Review’s founding and sustaining donor. Special thanks to the Drue Heinz Trust for supporting the Lincoln Center Theater Review.

Photograph courtesy of the Cultural Collections, University of Newcastle, Australia.

André Bishop Debra Black Allison M. Blinken Mrs. Leonard Block James-Keith Brown H. Rodgin Cohen Jonathan Z. Cohen Ida Cole Donald G. Drapkin Curtland E. Fields Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Bernard Gersten Ephraim Gildor Marlene Hess Linda LeRoy Janklow Jane Lisman Katz Kewsong Lee Memrie M. Lewis

War Horse is a majestic work of imagination, and in this issue of Lincoln Center Theater Review

This issue of the Lincoln Center Theater Review is supported by The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation.

2

Back cover photograph by Eadweard Muybridge, Leland Stanford, Jr., on his Pony Gypsy—Phases of a Stride by a Pony While Cantering, 1879. © Wilson Centre for Photography.

Off we march!

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

3


writing war horse ✰✰ by Michael Morpurgo

Thomas, Thomas Hardy. I learned of “the men who marched away,” of “the millions of the mouthless dead,” understood “the pity of war.” I read Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front. I saw the film. I went to see Joan Littlewood’s Oh! What a Lovely War. Britten’s great War Requiem, the pictures of Paul Nash and Stanley Spencer left an indelible impression on me. In my early thirties, in 1975, we moved from Kent to Iddesleigh in Devon, where my wife, Clare, and I were setting up Farms for City Children, an educational charity we hoped would enrich the lives of urban children by enabling them to spend a week of their young lives living and working down on the farm. We found ourselves living in a small, tight-knit community—Iddesleigh was a parish of less than two hundred people, a church, a post office, a village shop, a pub. Here we settled, and began our project. I had written one or two books already, but now for the first time I came across a subject

© Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS.

4

My mother often wept when she talked about the war. On the mantelpiece was a photo of my Uncle Pieter, who was shot down in 1941, two years before I was born. He looked back at me when I looked at him, and I knew he wanted to say something but couldn’t. I used to talk to him sometimes, I remember. I wanted to get to know him. A friend of the family used to come to tea sometimes. My mother always told me I must not stare at him, but I always did. I could not help myself. His face and hands were horribly scarred. I knew he had been shot down in the war and suffered dreadful burns. Here’s what war did: It burned flesh. It killed my uncle. It made my mother weep. So I grew up with the damage of war all around me. I learned that buildings you can put up again, but lives are wrecked forever. As a schoolboy I read the great poets of the First World War—Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Edmund Blunden, Edward

© Michael Morpurgo, 2007, www.michaelmorpurgo.org, www.farmsforcitychildren.org. Originally published in the National Theatre programme for the premiere of War Horse.

April 17, 2008, was the ninetieth anniversary of the Battle of Merkem, or the Battle of the Kippe. The Belgian army retook the hamlet of de Kippe. It was a significant advance much celebrated by the Belgians. To mark the occasion of this first Belgian victory, my grandfather Emile Cammaerts, a great poet and Belgian patriot, named my mother, who was born on April 18, 1918, Kippe. It is the name by which I’ve known her all my life. This is the first of many diverse influences that contributed to my writing War Horse many decades later. I grew up in London just after the Second World War, a London of bomb sites and ration books. I played in bomb sites (surely the best playgrounds ever made). We had cellars for dens, crumbling walls to climb, and in amongst the rubble I made endless discoveries. An old kettle, a shoe, a penny coin, a burnt book—they all became my treasures. Only later came the growing awareness of what war had done, not just to buildings but to people’s lives.

that I cared about deeply, one that I felt I could write from the heart. I was in the pub, the Duke of York. “Are you writing another book, Michael?” said the old man sitting opposite me by the fire, cradling his pint. I told him that I’d come across an old painting of a cavalry charge in the First World War. The British cavalry were charging up a hill towards the German position, one or two horses already caught up on the barbed wire. I was trying, I told him, to write the story of the First World War as seen through the eyes of a horse. “I was there in 1916,” the old man told me, his eyes filling with tears. “I was there with the horses, too.” He talked on for hours about the horse he’d loved and left behind at the end of the war, how the old horse had been sold off to the French butchers for meat. I determined then and there to tell the story of such a horse. But how to tell it? I had to find a way that didn’t take sides. So I conceived the notion I might write the

story of the First World War as seen through a horse’s eye, a horse that would be reared on a Devon farm, by the forebears of the village people I knew; a horse that is sold off the farm to go to the front as a British cavalry horse, is captured by the Germans and used to pull ambulances and guns, winters on a French farm. It would be the horse’seye view of the universal suffering of that dreadful war in which ten million men died, and unknown millions of horses. But I had yet to be convinced that I could make this work, that the horse might respond credibly, might understand the needs and anxieties of the people he came to know. Because I had been working for so long on the farm with the children, I was of course aware of the sensibilities of children towards animals, and vice versa. It was one incident in particular that convinced me I could make my story work. A young boy from Birmingham came to the farm with his classmates some twentyfive years ago. He was called Billy. Billy,

I was told by the teachers, had been fostered by several different families, was withdrawn, and so tormented by a stammer that by the age of seven he had given up speaking at all. One November evening, I had come to the farmhouse to read to the children. As I came into the stable yard behind the house, I found Billy standing there under the stable light, talking freely to one of the horses. He spoke confidently, knowing he was not being judged or mocked. And I had the very strong impression that the horse was listening, and understanding, too. It was an unforgettable moment for all three of us, I think. It was that extraordinary, inspirational moment that gave me the confidence I needed to begin writing War Horse. Michael Morpurgo is the award-winning author of children’s literature, including The Wreck of Zanzibar, King of the Cloud Forests, and Kensuke’s Kingdom.

5


writing war horse ✰✰ by Michael Morpurgo

Thomas, Thomas Hardy. I learned of “the men who marched away,” of “the millions of the mouthless dead,” understood “the pity of war.” I read Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front. I saw the film. I went to see Joan Littlewood’s Oh! What a Lovely War. Britten’s great War Requiem, the pictures of Paul Nash and Stanley Spencer left an indelible impression on me. In my early thirties, in 1975, we moved from Kent to Iddesleigh in Devon, where my wife, Clare, and I were setting up Farms for City Children, an educational charity we hoped would enrich the lives of urban children by enabling them to spend a week of their young lives living and working down on the farm. We found ourselves living in a small, tight-knit community—Iddesleigh was a parish of less than two hundred people, a church, a post office, a village shop, a pub. Here we settled, and began our project. I had written one or two books already, but now for the first time I came across a subject

© Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS.

4

My mother often wept when she talked about the war. On the mantelpiece was a photo of my Uncle Pieter, who was shot down in 1941, two years before I was born. He looked back at me when I looked at him, and I knew he wanted to say something but couldn’t. I used to talk to him sometimes, I remember. I wanted to get to know him. A friend of the family used to come to tea sometimes. My mother always told me I must not stare at him, but I always did. I could not help myself. His face and hands were horribly scarred. I knew he had been shot down in the war and suffered dreadful burns. Here’s what war did: It burned flesh. It killed my uncle. It made my mother weep. So I grew up with the damage of war all around me. I learned that buildings you can put up again, but lives are wrecked forever. As a schoolboy I read the great poets of the First World War—Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Edmund Blunden, Edward

© Michael Morpurgo, 2007, www.michaelmorpurgo.org, www.farmsforcitychildren.org. Originally published in the National Theatre programme for the premiere of War Horse.

April 17, 2008, was the ninetieth anniversary of the Battle of Merkem, or the Battle of the Kippe. The Belgian army retook the hamlet of de Kippe. It was a significant advance much celebrated by the Belgians. To mark the occasion of this first Belgian victory, my grandfather Emile Cammaerts, a great poet and Belgian patriot, named my mother, who was born on April 18, 1918, Kippe. It is the name by which I’ve known her all my life. This is the first of many diverse influences that contributed to my writing War Horse many decades later. I grew up in London just after the Second World War, a London of bomb sites and ration books. I played in bomb sites (surely the best playgrounds ever made). We had cellars for dens, crumbling walls to climb, and in amongst the rubble I made endless discoveries. An old kettle, a shoe, a penny coin, a burnt book—they all became my treasures. Only later came the growing awareness of what war had done, not just to buildings but to people’s lives.

that I cared about deeply, one that I felt I could write from the heart. I was in the pub, the Duke of York. “Are you writing another book, Michael?” said the old man sitting opposite me by the fire, cradling his pint. I told him that I’d come across an old painting of a cavalry charge in the First World War. The British cavalry were charging up a hill towards the German position, one or two horses already caught up on the barbed wire. I was trying, I told him, to write the story of the First World War as seen through the eyes of a horse. “I was there in 1916,” the old man told me, his eyes filling with tears. “I was there with the horses, too.” He talked on for hours about the horse he’d loved and left behind at the end of the war, how the old horse had been sold off to the French butchers for meat. I determined then and there to tell the story of such a horse. But how to tell it? I had to find a way that didn’t take sides. So I conceived the notion I might write the

story of the First World War as seen through a horse’s eye, a horse that would be reared on a Devon farm, by the forebears of the village people I knew; a horse that is sold off the farm to go to the front as a British cavalry horse, is captured by the Germans and used to pull ambulances and guns, winters on a French farm. It would be the horse’seye view of the universal suffering of that dreadful war in which ten million men died, and unknown millions of horses. But I had yet to be convinced that I could make this work, that the horse might respond credibly, might understand the needs and anxieties of the people he came to know. Because I had been working for so long on the farm with the children, I was of course aware of the sensibilities of children towards animals, and vice versa. It was one incident in particular that convinced me I could make my story work. A young boy from Birmingham came to the farm with his classmates some twentyfive years ago. He was called Billy. Billy,

I was told by the teachers, had been fostered by several different families, was withdrawn, and so tormented by a stammer that by the age of seven he had given up speaking at all. One November evening, I had come to the farmhouse to read to the children. As I came into the stable yard behind the house, I found Billy standing there under the stable light, talking freely to one of the horses. He spoke confidently, knowing he was not being judged or mocked. And I had the very strong impression that the horse was listening, and understanding, too. It was an unforgettable moment for all three of us, I think. It was that extraordinary, inspirational moment that gave me the confidence I needed to begin writing War Horse. Michael Morpurgo is the award-winning author of children’s literature, including The Wreck of Zanzibar, King of the Cloud Forests, and Kensuke’s Kingdom.

5


the war to end all wars ✰✰ by Russell Freedman

6

★ It was a perfect day for a parade. Crowds lined the parade route, waiting to catch a glimpse of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the imperial throne of Austria-Hungary, seat of the thousand-year-old Hapsburg Empire. Smiling expansively and nodding to the crowd, the archduke was riding in an open car through the streets of Sarajevo on the fateful Sunday morning of June 28, 1914. Sophie, his wife, sat beside him…. Scattered among the crowds that morning were six young terrorists. Five of them were teenagers, university students of Serbian descent who had been born and raised in Bosnia. All were members of a revolutionary organization called Young Bosnia. They had been recruited, trained and armed by the Black Hand, a secret group dedicated to the expansion of the Kingdom of Serbia and the liberation of all Serbs living under foreign rule. Their mission was to strike a blow against Austria and the Hapsburg monarchy by assassinating Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Their battle cry was “Death to the tyrant!”… As the imperial motorcade drove toward Sarajevo City Hall, one of the terrorists hurled a small bomb at Franz Ferdinand’s passing car. The bomb landed in the street and exploded against the next car in the procession, spraying shrapnel and injuring two officers on the archduke’s staff. After the would-be assassin was captured and the injured men were taken to a hospital, Franz Ferdinand insisted on continuing to City Hall, where he was greeted by the mayor. “So you welcome your guests here with bombs?” the archduke remarked with some anger. At the formal welcoming ceremony, the mayor delivered his prepared speech as though nothing unusual had happened. Franz Ferdinand then asked to be driven to the hospital so he could visit the two wounded officers. He wanted his wife to stay safely behind, but Sophie insisted upon accompanying him. The governor of Bosnia had assured the royal couple that the police were fully in control…. And so the imperial motorcade set forth again. On the way to the hospital, the archduke’s driver took a wrong turn. Realizing his mistake, he stopped the car, shifted gears, and prepared to turn around. By chance, the leader of the terrorist gang, nineteen-year-old Gavrilo Princip, happened to be standing on the pavement a few feet away. Princip had melted unnoticed into the crowd after his accomplice had thrown the bomb. Now he saw his chance. He stepped forward, pulled out his revolver, pointed it at the archduke’s car, and fired twice. At first it appeared that no one had been hurt. Franz Ferdinand and Sophie remained calm and upright in their seats. But as their car sped away, blood began to spurt out of Franz Ferdinand’s mouth.

Excerpts from The War to End All Wars: World War I by Russell Freedman. © 2010 by Russell Freedman. Reprinted by permission of Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Those who lived through World War I called it the Great War because of its massive scale: some two dozen countries joined the conflict, which swept across continents and killed perhaps 20 million people. This was the first full-scale war in which modern weapons inflicted mass slaughter. Long-range artillery, rapid-fire machine guns, poison gas, flamethrowers, tanks, and airplanes that bombed and strafed introduced new kinds of terror and record levels of suffering and death. It was the bloodiest conflict the world has ever seen. The survivors sought comfort in the belief that this terrible war surely would be the last. By the time the exhausted combatants finally laid down their arms, the Great War was also known as the War to End All Wars. Of course, it wasn’t known as World War I until the outbreak of a second world war in 1939. Mighty empires collapsed as a result of the fighting. New nations came into being. And the war’s aftershocks are still being felt today. The Russian Revolution, the rise of Hitler, America’s emergence as a world power, the Second World War, and continuing turmoil in the Middle East all have their roots in the First World War. More than that, this war changed forever the way wars are fought and the way people think about the use of military power. ★ Rivalries among Europe’s Great Powers had led to an elaborate network of military alliances, in which one nation pledged to support another in the event of war. Germany and Austria-Hungary had joined with Italy in what was called the Triple Alliance. France and Russia had an alliance of their own, and Britain, while avoiding formal alliances, had signed ententes (understandings) with both France and Russia, forming what was known as the Triple Entente. As the European nations chose up sides, they were busily arming themselves. Military leaders warned that it was essential to be strong and prepared, as a warning to any aggressor. So along with the naval armaments race between Britain and Germany, European nations were competing in an arms race on land. Seeking security and military superiority, they recruited ever larger armies and navies, piled up more and more of the latest new weapons, and built wider and stronger fortifications along their national borders. This arms buildup alarmed some observers. Czar Nicholas II warned that “the accelerating arms race” was “transforming the armed peace into a crushing burden that weighs on all nations and, if prolonged, will lead to the very cataclysm it seeks to avert.” On June 28, 1914, the day that Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, the major European powers all had large standing armies, and they were all armed to the teeth.

Sophie died almost instantly. The bullet that killed her had passed through the door of the car, striking her in the groin and severing an artery. The archduke, shot in the neck, bled to death within a few minutes. Gavrilo Princip…tried to shoot himself in the head but was overwhelmed by members of the crowd. As he struggled, he managed to swallow a vial of cyanide…. But the cyanide was old and only made him vomit. He was arrested on the spot. Two of Princip’s accomplices had also been captured. They confessed that they had been armed in Serbia and smuggled across the Austrian border with the help of Serbian border guards…. “The Serbs must be disposed of, and that right soon!” declared Kaiser Wilhelm II, emperor of Germany, Austria’s closest ally. Other European leaders were not so sure. They feared that an Austrian war against Serbia might set off a deadly chain reaction, pulling in other nations, such as Serbia’s ally, Russia.… The events that unfolded as Europe careened towards catastrophe appeared to defy logic and common sense. Austria had wanted to punish Serbia, and then, one by one, other nations were drawn into the quarrel. To support Austria in its conflict with Russia over Serbia, Germany had attacked France by invading Belgium. And Britain had declared a state of war throughout the vast British Empire. In the rush of events, the Kingdom of Serbia, supposedly the cause of the war, had almost been forgotten. Each nation believed that it was fighting a defensive war forced upon it by someone else. And each army was convinced that it could defeat its enemies within a few months and that the troops would be home by Christmas…. [And so Europe was caught up in a war that few had expected and almost no one wanted. And] six million soldiers were on the march across Europe during the first weeks of August 1914. ★ Germany’s war plan was to sweep across Belgium and invade France from the weakly defended north. German generals were convinced that the outnumbered Belgians would not put up a fight.… “It is clear that all the courage in the world cannot prevail against gunfire,” said a young French captain named Charles de Gaulle, who later became president of France. In a single day, August 22, the French lost 27,000 men, most of them shot dead by machine guns and long-range rifles, or blown to bits by shrapnel and high explosives. Falling back all along the line, the French and British armies were forced into a retreat that would take them to the outskirts of Paris. During the month of August, more than a hundred thousand

soldiers—French, British, Belgian, and German—were killed on the Western European Front; several hundred thousand were wounded. British author Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, called it “the most terrible August in the history of the world.” The Great Retreat, as it came to be known, continued for two sweltering summer weeks at the end of August and the beginning of September. Day after day under a scorching sun, hundreds of thousands of weary French and British soldiers trudged farther and farther south….Cavalry troops dismounted and walked beside their horses, trying to conserve the weary animals’ strength. Horses were important because they also pulled the big guns, the ammunitions wagons, and the wheeled field kitchens that cooked on the march. They “soon began to droop their heads and wouldn’t shake themselves like they normally did,” British trooper Ben Clouting remembered. “They fell asleep standing up, their legs buckling. As they stumbled forward… they lost their balance completely, falling forward and taking the skins off their knees.” German troops crossed the Marne River and approached Paris early in September. The French government fled the capital for the city of Bordeaux on the Atlantic coast. And the French army made plans to blow up the bridges across the Seine River in the center of Paris and to destroy the Eiffel Tower, which was being used as a transmitting station for French army radio communications. The Germans advanced to within twenty-five miles of Paris but found themselves physically exhausted and far ahead of their supply lines….Recognizing the enemy’s vulnerability, the Allies seized the opportunity to make a stand along the Marne. More than one million men fought in what history calls the First Battle of the Marne, which raged for eight blood-soaked days in September. “The heat was suffocating,” a French cavalryman remembered. “The exhausted troops, covered with a layer of black dust sticking to their sweat, looked like devils. The tired horses…had large open sores on their backs. The heat was burning, thirst intolerable.” At one point during the fighting, French general Joseph-Simon Gallieni commandeered 2,000 Paris taxicabs, which rushed thousands of French reinforcements to the front lines. Against all odds, it seemed, the battle turned the tide against the Germans, stopped their advance, saved Paris, and came to be known as “the Miracle of the Marne.” The Germans were as astounded as everyone else by the battle’s outcome. On September, 14, the Germans began an orderly retreat along a front of some 150 miles…and fell back to defensive positions along the Aisne River, north of the Marne.…When the Germans reached the high ground behind the Aisne, they began to dig furi7


the war to end all wars ✰✰ by Russell Freedman

6

★ It was a perfect day for a parade. Crowds lined the parade route, waiting to catch a glimpse of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the imperial throne of Austria-Hungary, seat of the thousand-year-old Hapsburg Empire. Smiling expansively and nodding to the crowd, the archduke was riding in an open car through the streets of Sarajevo on the fateful Sunday morning of June 28, 1914. Sophie, his wife, sat beside him…. Scattered among the crowds that morning were six young terrorists. Five of them were teenagers, university students of Serbian descent who had been born and raised in Bosnia. All were members of a revolutionary organization called Young Bosnia. They had been recruited, trained and armed by the Black Hand, a secret group dedicated to the expansion of the Kingdom of Serbia and the liberation of all Serbs living under foreign rule. Their mission was to strike a blow against Austria and the Hapsburg monarchy by assassinating Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Their battle cry was “Death to the tyrant!”… As the imperial motorcade drove toward Sarajevo City Hall, one of the terrorists hurled a small bomb at Franz Ferdinand’s passing car. The bomb landed in the street and exploded against the next car in the procession, spraying shrapnel and injuring two officers on the archduke’s staff. After the would-be assassin was captured and the injured men were taken to a hospital, Franz Ferdinand insisted on continuing to City Hall, where he was greeted by the mayor. “So you welcome your guests here with bombs?” the archduke remarked with some anger. At the formal welcoming ceremony, the mayor delivered his prepared speech as though nothing unusual had happened. Franz Ferdinand then asked to be driven to the hospital so he could visit the two wounded officers. He wanted his wife to stay safely behind, but Sophie insisted upon accompanying him. The governor of Bosnia had assured the royal couple that the police were fully in control…. And so the imperial motorcade set forth again. On the way to the hospital, the archduke’s driver took a wrong turn. Realizing his mistake, he stopped the car, shifted gears, and prepared to turn around. By chance, the leader of the terrorist gang, nineteen-year-old Gavrilo Princip, happened to be standing on the pavement a few feet away. Princip had melted unnoticed into the crowd after his accomplice had thrown the bomb. Now he saw his chance. He stepped forward, pulled out his revolver, pointed it at the archduke’s car, and fired twice. At first it appeared that no one had been hurt. Franz Ferdinand and Sophie remained calm and upright in their seats. But as their car sped away, blood began to spurt out of Franz Ferdinand’s mouth.

Excerpts from The War to End All Wars: World War I by Russell Freedman. © 2010 by Russell Freedman. Reprinted by permission of Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Those who lived through World War I called it the Great War because of its massive scale: some two dozen countries joined the conflict, which swept across continents and killed perhaps 20 million people. This was the first full-scale war in which modern weapons inflicted mass slaughter. Long-range artillery, rapid-fire machine guns, poison gas, flamethrowers, tanks, and airplanes that bombed and strafed introduced new kinds of terror and record levels of suffering and death. It was the bloodiest conflict the world has ever seen. The survivors sought comfort in the belief that this terrible war surely would be the last. By the time the exhausted combatants finally laid down their arms, the Great War was also known as the War to End All Wars. Of course, it wasn’t known as World War I until the outbreak of a second world war in 1939. Mighty empires collapsed as a result of the fighting. New nations came into being. And the war’s aftershocks are still being felt today. The Russian Revolution, the rise of Hitler, America’s emergence as a world power, the Second World War, and continuing turmoil in the Middle East all have their roots in the First World War. More than that, this war changed forever the way wars are fought and the way people think about the use of military power. ★ Rivalries among Europe’s Great Powers had led to an elaborate network of military alliances, in which one nation pledged to support another in the event of war. Germany and Austria-Hungary had joined with Italy in what was called the Triple Alliance. France and Russia had an alliance of their own, and Britain, while avoiding formal alliances, had signed ententes (understandings) with both France and Russia, forming what was known as the Triple Entente. As the European nations chose up sides, they were busily arming themselves. Military leaders warned that it was essential to be strong and prepared, as a warning to any aggressor. So along with the naval armaments race between Britain and Germany, European nations were competing in an arms race on land. Seeking security and military superiority, they recruited ever larger armies and navies, piled up more and more of the latest new weapons, and built wider and stronger fortifications along their national borders. This arms buildup alarmed some observers. Czar Nicholas II warned that “the accelerating arms race” was “transforming the armed peace into a crushing burden that weighs on all nations and, if prolonged, will lead to the very cataclysm it seeks to avert.” On June 28, 1914, the day that Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, the major European powers all had large standing armies, and they were all armed to the teeth.

Sophie died almost instantly. The bullet that killed her had passed through the door of the car, striking her in the groin and severing an artery. The archduke, shot in the neck, bled to death within a few minutes. Gavrilo Princip…tried to shoot himself in the head but was overwhelmed by members of the crowd. As he struggled, he managed to swallow a vial of cyanide…. But the cyanide was old and only made him vomit. He was arrested on the spot. Two of Princip’s accomplices had also been captured. They confessed that they had been armed in Serbia and smuggled across the Austrian border with the help of Serbian border guards…. “The Serbs must be disposed of, and that right soon!” declared Kaiser Wilhelm II, emperor of Germany, Austria’s closest ally. Other European leaders were not so sure. They feared that an Austrian war against Serbia might set off a deadly chain reaction, pulling in other nations, such as Serbia’s ally, Russia.… The events that unfolded as Europe careened towards catastrophe appeared to defy logic and common sense. Austria had wanted to punish Serbia, and then, one by one, other nations were drawn into the quarrel. To support Austria in its conflict with Russia over Serbia, Germany had attacked France by invading Belgium. And Britain had declared a state of war throughout the vast British Empire. In the rush of events, the Kingdom of Serbia, supposedly the cause of the war, had almost been forgotten. Each nation believed that it was fighting a defensive war forced upon it by someone else. And each army was convinced that it could defeat its enemies within a few months and that the troops would be home by Christmas…. [And so Europe was caught up in a war that few had expected and almost no one wanted. And] six million soldiers were on the march across Europe during the first weeks of August 1914. ★ Germany’s war plan was to sweep across Belgium and invade France from the weakly defended north. German generals were convinced that the outnumbered Belgians would not put up a fight.… “It is clear that all the courage in the world cannot prevail against gunfire,” said a young French captain named Charles de Gaulle, who later became president of France. In a single day, August 22, the French lost 27,000 men, most of them shot dead by machine guns and long-range rifles, or blown to bits by shrapnel and high explosives. Falling back all along the line, the French and British armies were forced into a retreat that would take them to the outskirts of Paris. During the month of August, more than a hundred thousand

soldiers—French, British, Belgian, and German—were killed on the Western European Front; several hundred thousand were wounded. British author Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, called it “the most terrible August in the history of the world.” The Great Retreat, as it came to be known, continued for two sweltering summer weeks at the end of August and the beginning of September. Day after day under a scorching sun, hundreds of thousands of weary French and British soldiers trudged farther and farther south….Cavalry troops dismounted and walked beside their horses, trying to conserve the weary animals’ strength. Horses were important because they also pulled the big guns, the ammunitions wagons, and the wheeled field kitchens that cooked on the march. They “soon began to droop their heads and wouldn’t shake themselves like they normally did,” British trooper Ben Clouting remembered. “They fell asleep standing up, their legs buckling. As they stumbled forward… they lost their balance completely, falling forward and taking the skins off their knees.” German troops crossed the Marne River and approached Paris early in September. The French government fled the capital for the city of Bordeaux on the Atlantic coast. And the French army made plans to blow up the bridges across the Seine River in the center of Paris and to destroy the Eiffel Tower, which was being used as a transmitting station for French army radio communications. The Germans advanced to within twenty-five miles of Paris but found themselves physically exhausted and far ahead of their supply lines….Recognizing the enemy’s vulnerability, the Allies seized the opportunity to make a stand along the Marne. More than one million men fought in what history calls the First Battle of the Marne, which raged for eight blood-soaked days in September. “The heat was suffocating,” a French cavalryman remembered. “The exhausted troops, covered with a layer of black dust sticking to their sweat, looked like devils. The tired horses…had large open sores on their backs. The heat was burning, thirst intolerable.” At one point during the fighting, French general Joseph-Simon Gallieni commandeered 2,000 Paris taxicabs, which rushed thousands of French reinforcements to the front lines. Against all odds, it seemed, the battle turned the tide against the Germans, stopped their advance, saved Paris, and came to be known as “the Miracle of the Marne.” The Germans were as astounded as everyone else by the battle’s outcome. On September, 14, the Germans began an orderly retreat along a front of some 150 miles…and fell back to defensive positions along the Aisne River, north of the Marne.…When the Germans reached the high ground behind the Aisne, they began to dig furi7


ously, preparing fortified trenches that they would defend against Allied attack for the next four years…. Trenches hastily scratched out in the boggy soil of Flanders had become part of a continuous line of fortified trenches that stretched 475 miles from the English Channel to the Swiss Alps. All along the Western Front, the opposing armies had been digging in to secure the territory for which they fought. Now they crouched in their trenches, watching each other across a narrow and empty strip of no-man’s-land. From the winter of 1914 to the spring of 1918, the pattern of trenches would remain fixed, shifting a few hundred yards here and there, or at the most, during a great battle, moving a few miles. By the end of 1914, after less than five months of combat, more than 600,000 soldiers on both sides had been killed on the Western Front.…Trench warfare had begun along a front that would remain essentially unchanged for four more terrible years. ★ “We went through the broken trees to the east of the village and up a long trench to Battalion Headquarters,” wrote author Robert Graves, recalling the night he joined his frontline unit in France as a twenty-one-year-old British officer. “The wet and slippery trench ran through dull red clay. I had a torch [a flashlight] with me, and saw that hundreds of field mice and frogs had fallen into the trench but found no way out. The light dazzled them, and because I could not help treading on them, I put the torch back in my pocket. We had no mental picture of what the trenches would be like.” You could smell the front line miles before you could see it. The reek rose from rotting corpses lying in shallow graves, from overflowing latrines, and from the stale sweat of men who had not enjoyed the luxury of a bath for weeks. Men grew accustomed to the smells, but they could never forget the artillery shells constantly raining down on them from enemy guns. It has been estimated that a third of the Allied casualties on the Western Front were suffered by men in trenches…. Under the stress of trench warfare some soldiers seemed to suffer nervous breakdowns, a condition that became known as shell shock. Without having received physical injuries of any kind, men might begin to tremble or shake uncontrollably; some became like zombies, staring blankly into the distance as though in a trance. Medical doctors increasingly viewed shell shock as a serious disorder, an understandable reaction to feelings of utter helplessness when on the receiving end of a bombardment, or when ordered to climb out of a hole in the face of blanketing machine-gun fire and risk sudden death…. For all the hazards—the risks from sniper fire and incoming shells, the serious health problems—trenches saved lives. The best protection against enemy fire power was the dugout, the deeper the better. The greatest danger came when men crawled out of their trenches to “go over the top” and attack.

8

★ In September 1915 the Allies launched a major offensive in France, hoping to break through enemy lines, drive the Germans back to the Meuse River, and end the war. French forces attacked in the Champagne region while the British stormed German defenses in the mining area around the town of Loos. In both sectors, the attacks were preceded by the discharge of chlorine gas, the first time poison gas had been used by the Allies. At Loos, the gas hung over no-man’s-land and drifted back into the British trenches, sickening hundreds of men and holding up their advance. Later at Loos, thousands of British troops advancing across an open field were slaughtered by German machine-gun fire. The Germans, appalled by the carnage, held their fire as the surviving British troops turned and retreated. “Coming back over the ground that had been captured that day, the sight that met our eyes was quite unbelievable.” British Corporal Edward Glendinning: “If you can imagine a flock of sheep lying down sleeping in a field, the bodies were as thick as that. Some of them were still alive, and they were crying out, begging for water, and plucking at our legs as we went by. One hefty chap grabbed me around both knees and held me. ‘Water, water,’ he cried. I was just going to take the cork out of my water-bottle—I had a little left—but I was immediately hustled on by the man behind me. ‘Get on, get on, we are going to get lost in no-man’s-land, come on.’ So it was a case where compassion had to give way to discipline and I had to break away from this man to run to catch up with the men in front.” By the time the joint Allied offensive was called off in November, after several weeks of fighting, the French and British had suffered a quarter of a million casualties and had accomplished nothing. With the land war deadlocked, Britain and Germany were each determined to achieve ultimate victory by winning the war at sea…. Within weeks of the war’s outbreak, German U-boats had sunk three British cruisers in the English Channel, sending one thousand five hundred sailors to their death. By the beginning of 1917, the German navy had about a hundred submarines available for action in the North Sea, the Atlantic, and the Mediterranean. U-boat captains were ordered to begin unrestricted attacks against all vessels approaching the British Isles. The Germans hoped to win the war before the United States could intervene. ★ On February 6, 1917, after two Americans were drowned in the British liner Laconia by a German submarine, [President Woodrow]Wilson asked Congress for permission to begin arming American merchant ships…. [This] was followed by German U-boat attacks on four American ships, which were torpedoed without warning. That proved to be the tipping point. Speaking before a special session of Congress, President Wilson declared that the German submarine campaign was a “war against all nations,” and on April 6, 1917, the United States formally declared war on Germany. Declarations of war against Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey followed.

Wilson stated the United States had entered the war because, “the world must be made safe for Democracy”—an admirable goal, but very different from the motives that had plunged Europe into war three years earlier. ★ When the United States declared war, it had a large and modern navy but a small, poorly equipped army, only the seventeenth largest in the world. Because there weren’t enough rifles to go around, many early recruits drilled with broomsticks. In their first significant action, on May 28, 1918, 4,000 American troops of the First Division, supported by French artillery, tanks, and air cover, stormed the strategically important village of Cantigny on the Somme, captured the village from Germans, and fought off a German counterattack. During the three-day battle, two hundred Americans were killed and another two hundred incapacitated by

Men grew accustomed to the smells, but they could never forget the artillery shells constantly raining down on them from enemy guns. It has been estimated that a third of the Allied casualties on the Western Front were suffered by men in trenches. German gas attacks. But the Yanks held Cantigny, and they proved to the Germans that they could fight. In the months that followed, American troops would play an increasingly important role. Early in June, the U.S. Second and Third Divisions attacked the German bridgehead at the riverside town of Château-Thierry, pushed the enemy back across the Marne, and blocked the way to Paris. Once again, a German offensive had been halted just outside the gates of Paris. Reinforced now by battle-ready American troops, the Allies mounted a massive counter-attack. There was little the exhausted Germans could do but order a retreat, and by August 1918 they had been driven back to the Aisne River. To the north, German armies were retreating along the old Somme battlefield, abandoning the land they had captured when starting their last-ditch offensive earlier that year. On September 28, General Ludendorff informed Kaiser Wilhelm that there was now no prospect of winning the war. The German army had been crippled by a sense of “looming defeat,” Ludendorff said, because of “the sheer number of Americans arriving daily at the front.” To avert a catastrophe, Ludendorff told the Kaiser, Germany must seek an immediate armistice.

Behind the lines, Germany was on the verge of chaos. At the end of October, German naval crews mutinied, and within a week, revolutionary outbreaks had spread to every big German city. On November 9, the generals, fearing the kind of full-fledged revolution that had occurred in Russia, informed Kaiser Wilhelm that he no longer commanded the confidence of the army. “The Kaiser must abdicate, otherwise we shall have the revolution,” he was told. “Your abdication has become necessary to save Germany from civil war.” Wilhelm fled across the Dutch border to take refuge in neutral Holland, where he signed his formal abdication as king of Prussia and German emperor. Germany was declared a republic. In Berlin, a delegation was formed to meet with Allied war leaders and ask for surrender terms. ★ The treaty formally ending World War I was signed by representatives of the Allied powers and the German government in the Hall of Mirrors of the Palace of Versailles near Paris on June 28, 1919. The Treaty of Versailles was a compromise that pleased no one…. The peace terms caused lingering resentments in Germany. Germans were embittered by the way so many German speakers were placed under the rule of other countries. The demands for huge reparations—far more than could ever be paid—were seen as unjust. So was the fact that Germany was given no say in the treaty terms. What rankled most was the treaty’s humiliating “war guilt” clause, placing the blame entirely at Germany’s feet. Germans continued to believe that the war had been forced on them by their enemies. In 1936, Adolf Hitler violated the terms of the Treaty of Versailles by sending troops into the demilitarized German Rhineland. France and Britain took no action to stop him. Other treaty violations followed as the Nazi government annexed Austria, then the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia, where many ethnic Germans lived, and finally the rest of Czechoslovakia. Still, the World War I Allies were hesitant to act. Haunted by the immense sacrifices and dreadful memories of World War I, the French and British people were reluctant ever to endure such a bloodletting again. Instead of resisting Nazi Germany’s demands, France and Britain followed a policy of appeasement; by giving in to Hitler’s lesser demands, they hoped to avoid greater demands in the future. In this way, they allowed Germany to recover its military might. In September 1939, Hitler invaded Poland, setting loose the Second World War twenty years after Germany’s crushing defeat in the First. Mr. Freedman has won numerous awards, including the Newbery Medal, several Newbery Honors, the Sibert Medal, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, and a National Humanities Medal. Formerly a journalist and a veteran of the Korean War who served with the Second Infantry Division, Mr. Freedman is the author of some fifty books for young readers. He lives in New York City.

9


ously, preparing fortified trenches that they would defend against Allied attack for the next four years…. Trenches hastily scratched out in the boggy soil of Flanders had become part of a continuous line of fortified trenches that stretched 475 miles from the English Channel to the Swiss Alps. All along the Western Front, the opposing armies had been digging in to secure the territory for which they fought. Now they crouched in their trenches, watching each other across a narrow and empty strip of no-man’s-land. From the winter of 1914 to the spring of 1918, the pattern of trenches would remain fixed, shifting a few hundred yards here and there, or at the most, during a great battle, moving a few miles. By the end of 1914, after less than five months of combat, more than 600,000 soldiers on both sides had been killed on the Western Front.…Trench warfare had begun along a front that would remain essentially unchanged for four more terrible years. ★ “We went through the broken trees to the east of the village and up a long trench to Battalion Headquarters,” wrote author Robert Graves, recalling the night he joined his frontline unit in France as a twenty-one-year-old British officer. “The wet and slippery trench ran through dull red clay. I had a torch [a flashlight] with me, and saw that hundreds of field mice and frogs had fallen into the trench but found no way out. The light dazzled them, and because I could not help treading on them, I put the torch back in my pocket. We had no mental picture of what the trenches would be like.” You could smell the front line miles before you could see it. The reek rose from rotting corpses lying in shallow graves, from overflowing latrines, and from the stale sweat of men who had not enjoyed the luxury of a bath for weeks. Men grew accustomed to the smells, but they could never forget the artillery shells constantly raining down on them from enemy guns. It has been estimated that a third of the Allied casualties on the Western Front were suffered by men in trenches…. Under the stress of trench warfare some soldiers seemed to suffer nervous breakdowns, a condition that became known as shell shock. Without having received physical injuries of any kind, men might begin to tremble or shake uncontrollably; some became like zombies, staring blankly into the distance as though in a trance. Medical doctors increasingly viewed shell shock as a serious disorder, an understandable reaction to feelings of utter helplessness when on the receiving end of a bombardment, or when ordered to climb out of a hole in the face of blanketing machine-gun fire and risk sudden death…. For all the hazards—the risks from sniper fire and incoming shells, the serious health problems—trenches saved lives. The best protection against enemy fire power was the dugout, the deeper the better. The greatest danger came when men crawled out of their trenches to “go over the top” and attack.

8

★ In September 1915 the Allies launched a major offensive in France, hoping to break through enemy lines, drive the Germans back to the Meuse River, and end the war. French forces attacked in the Champagne region while the British stormed German defenses in the mining area around the town of Loos. In both sectors, the attacks were preceded by the discharge of chlorine gas, the first time poison gas had been used by the Allies. At Loos, the gas hung over no-man’s-land and drifted back into the British trenches, sickening hundreds of men and holding up their advance. Later at Loos, thousands of British troops advancing across an open field were slaughtered by German machine-gun fire. The Germans, appalled by the carnage, held their fire as the surviving British troops turned and retreated. “Coming back over the ground that had been captured that day, the sight that met our eyes was quite unbelievable.” British Corporal Edward Glendinning: “If you can imagine a flock of sheep lying down sleeping in a field, the bodies were as thick as that. Some of them were still alive, and they were crying out, begging for water, and plucking at our legs as we went by. One hefty chap grabbed me around both knees and held me. ‘Water, water,’ he cried. I was just going to take the cork out of my water-bottle—I had a little left—but I was immediately hustled on by the man behind me. ‘Get on, get on, we are going to get lost in no-man’s-land, come on.’ So it was a case where compassion had to give way to discipline and I had to break away from this man to run to catch up with the men in front.” By the time the joint Allied offensive was called off in November, after several weeks of fighting, the French and British had suffered a quarter of a million casualties and had accomplished nothing. With the land war deadlocked, Britain and Germany were each determined to achieve ultimate victory by winning the war at sea…. Within weeks of the war’s outbreak, German U-boats had sunk three British cruisers in the English Channel, sending one thousand five hundred sailors to their death. By the beginning of 1917, the German navy had about a hundred submarines available for action in the North Sea, the Atlantic, and the Mediterranean. U-boat captains were ordered to begin unrestricted attacks against all vessels approaching the British Isles. The Germans hoped to win the war before the United States could intervene. ★ On February 6, 1917, after two Americans were drowned in the British liner Laconia by a German submarine, [President Woodrow]Wilson asked Congress for permission to begin arming American merchant ships…. [This] was followed by German U-boat attacks on four American ships, which were torpedoed without warning. That proved to be the tipping point. Speaking before a special session of Congress, President Wilson declared that the German submarine campaign was a “war against all nations,” and on April 6, 1917, the United States formally declared war on Germany. Declarations of war against Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey followed.

Wilson stated the United States had entered the war because, “the world must be made safe for Democracy”—an admirable goal, but very different from the motives that had plunged Europe into war three years earlier. ★ When the United States declared war, it had a large and modern navy but a small, poorly equipped army, only the seventeenth largest in the world. Because there weren’t enough rifles to go around, many early recruits drilled with broomsticks. In their first significant action, on May 28, 1918, 4,000 American troops of the First Division, supported by French artillery, tanks, and air cover, stormed the strategically important village of Cantigny on the Somme, captured the village from Germans, and fought off a German counterattack. During the three-day battle, two hundred Americans were killed and another two hundred incapacitated by

Men grew accustomed to the smells, but they could never forget the artillery shells constantly raining down on them from enemy guns. It has been estimated that a third of the Allied casualties on the Western Front were suffered by men in trenches. German gas attacks. But the Yanks held Cantigny, and they proved to the Germans that they could fight. In the months that followed, American troops would play an increasingly important role. Early in June, the U.S. Second and Third Divisions attacked the German bridgehead at the riverside town of Château-Thierry, pushed the enemy back across the Marne, and blocked the way to Paris. Once again, a German offensive had been halted just outside the gates of Paris. Reinforced now by battle-ready American troops, the Allies mounted a massive counter-attack. There was little the exhausted Germans could do but order a retreat, and by August 1918 they had been driven back to the Aisne River. To the north, German armies were retreating along the old Somme battlefield, abandoning the land they had captured when starting their last-ditch offensive earlier that year. On September 28, General Ludendorff informed Kaiser Wilhelm that there was now no prospect of winning the war. The German army had been crippled by a sense of “looming defeat,” Ludendorff said, because of “the sheer number of Americans arriving daily at the front.” To avert a catastrophe, Ludendorff told the Kaiser, Germany must seek an immediate armistice.

Behind the lines, Germany was on the verge of chaos. At the end of October, German naval crews mutinied, and within a week, revolutionary outbreaks had spread to every big German city. On November 9, the generals, fearing the kind of full-fledged revolution that had occurred in Russia, informed Kaiser Wilhelm that he no longer commanded the confidence of the army. “The Kaiser must abdicate, otherwise we shall have the revolution,” he was told. “Your abdication has become necessary to save Germany from civil war.” Wilhelm fled across the Dutch border to take refuge in neutral Holland, where he signed his formal abdication as king of Prussia and German emperor. Germany was declared a republic. In Berlin, a delegation was formed to meet with Allied war leaders and ask for surrender terms. ★ The treaty formally ending World War I was signed by representatives of the Allied powers and the German government in the Hall of Mirrors of the Palace of Versailles near Paris on June 28, 1919. The Treaty of Versailles was a compromise that pleased no one…. The peace terms caused lingering resentments in Germany. Germans were embittered by the way so many German speakers were placed under the rule of other countries. The demands for huge reparations—far more than could ever be paid—were seen as unjust. So was the fact that Germany was given no say in the treaty terms. What rankled most was the treaty’s humiliating “war guilt” clause, placing the blame entirely at Germany’s feet. Germans continued to believe that the war had been forced on them by their enemies. In 1936, Adolf Hitler violated the terms of the Treaty of Versailles by sending troops into the demilitarized German Rhineland. France and Britain took no action to stop him. Other treaty violations followed as the Nazi government annexed Austria, then the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia, where many ethnic Germans lived, and finally the rest of Czechoslovakia. Still, the World War I Allies were hesitant to act. Haunted by the immense sacrifices and dreadful memories of World War I, the French and British people were reluctant ever to endure such a bloodletting again. Instead of resisting Nazi Germany’s demands, France and Britain followed a policy of appeasement; by giving in to Hitler’s lesser demands, they hoped to avoid greater demands in the future. In this way, they allowed Germany to recover its military might. In September 1939, Hitler invaded Poland, setting loose the Second World War twenty years after Germany’s crushing defeat in the First. Mr. Freedman has won numerous awards, including the Newbery Medal, several Newbery Honors, the Sibert Medal, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, and a National Humanities Medal. Formerly a journalist and a veteran of the Korean War who served with the Second Infantry Division, Mr. Freedman is the author of some fifty books for young readers. He lives in New York City.

9


the magical life of objects: ✰✰ an interview with adrian kohler & basil jones

THE CROW FROM WAR HORSE, LONDON, 2007.

PUPPET TOPTHORN’S HEAD, FROM WAR HORSE, AT THE NATIONAL THEATRE, LONDON, 2007.

Editor: Why did you name your company Handspring? Adrian Kohler: We admired a Russian puppeteer, Sergey Obraztsov, who studied with Stanislavski, and came to puppet theater having worked with the classic Russian glove puppet Patrushka. Obraztsov believed that the soul of the puppet lives in the palm of the hand. Literally, when you are talk-

10

ing about a glove puppet the puppet itself is nothing without the hand inside. And he believed that the further you got away from the hand, as with string controls, the further the manipulation energy got from the actual puppet the less it was able to perform well. He believed that the palm is the soul of the puppet. When we started our company, we hoped that lots of good things would spring from the palm of the hand. ED: How did the two of you meet? Basil Jones: We met at art school in 1971; we were majoring in sculpture. The professors were constantly admonishing Adrian for making puppets, and reminding him that at art school they produce artists, not puppeteers. He nevertheless relentlessly made puppets, and when he left art school he joined the

Space Theatre in Cape Town, which was one of the few independent, nonracial theater companies in South Africa at that time. But we were being harassed by military obligations—which all young, white South Africans had to perform—so we went to England. Then Adrian got a job in Botswana, and for three years he directed the National Popular Theatre Program. Which sounds quite grand, but it was actually a very hands-on program that went to villages around the country and used puppetry and other forms of theater to dramatize development situations and to help problem-solve. There was a team that would arrive in the village and devise a play with the villagers. It was highly idealistic, but really worthwhile.

Photograph page 10 by John Hodgkiss. Photograph page 11 by Simon Annand. Courtesy David Krut Publishing, Johannesburg/New York.

This January, just before War Horse rehearsals began, we sat down with Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones, the founders of the Handspring Puppet Company and the creators of the breathtaking puppets at the center of this show, to talk about their work in South Africa and the philosophy that fuels their art.

AK: It was fantastic. And after the Soweto riots in ‘76 a lot of South Africans went across the border and many were in Gaborone, which is the capital of Botswana. So, as white South Africans, we met black South Africans who were heavily politically involved. We had an incredible education. The exposure to that kind of thought and action wasn’t possible within the country— not openly, anyway. BJ: But, becoming members of the ANC [African National Congress] Cultural Group, as openly gay men—that was tricky, though it was amazing that our relationship was never a problem with the ANC, and it wasn’t a problem with my colleagues at the National Museum and Art Gallery, and it wasn’t a problem with Adrian’s colleagues at the University of Botswana. But it was kind of a problem with the people in general, on the street. Being gay was sort of a nonconcept. We were constantly being offered young women as wives. The other problem that we had living there—though we lived a wonderful life there, one that was extremely challenging and interesting—was that Adrian couldn’t really perform as a puppeteer. The whole idea was enabling other people to perform. AK: The play wasn’t important—it was the issues that were important. So you would reach a certain level of competence and then move on. And the level of puppetry was very basic. We dried papier-mâché puppets in the school oven—you know, overnight, and stuff like that. (Laughs) BJ: We decided, finally, that we would go back to South Africa and start a puppet company. I’d become aware of the Bamana puppets, the puppets of Mali in West Africa, and was a big admirer of them. The museum where I worked had acquired a small collection of these puppets and I was curat-

ing them, so I came to respect this tradition and to be curious about puppetry as an African tradition that had nothing to do with the rest of the world. There was a loophole in the military callup system, such that if you ran a company on your own you weren’t liable for call-up, because that could mean the collapse of your company. So when I was called up the company belonged to me. And when Adrian was called up the company belonged to him. And we kind of got by that way. AK: More or less. There were some glitches, but they were not serious. BJ: We started the company in 1981, in Cape Town. And, basically, we toured in a truck converted into a caravan. We would spend about four months making the play and the puppets. ED: And you would manipulate the puppets yourselves? BJ: Yes. We would tour to small towns around South Africa, Botswana—because we knew people there—Swaziland, and eventually to Namibia as well. We’d then go on a school tour lasting about four months, maybe, if we were lucky—two tours. And then, at the end of the year, we’d be making the play for the next year. We’d stay in caravan parks, mainly. It was quite tough; there were four of us, and we were sort of married, and sleeping together in this vehicle every night, getting up sometimes with frost on the windscreen in the mornings to trundle out over to the ablution block. But it was incredible. AK: In 1985, everything changed. A state of emergency was declared in South Africa. We were prevented from going into schools because independent groups were thought to be a little bit suspect. Security was so tight; barbed wire was put up everywhere. ED: Because part of the resistance movement was centered among students? AK: Yes, and particularly in black schools. That year there was also a terrible raid in Botswana, where one of our friends, Thami Mnyele, was killed—a superb artist. All the exiles in Botswana left. We stopped going back. Then we made our first adult play, Episodes of an Easter Rising. It was written by David Lytton, whose body of work was banned in South Africa; nobody even remembered who he was. I’d found the play in a Botswana bookshop and we had sat on it for five years. We hadn’t really thought we were capable of performing for an adult audience, but we

just decided to take a chance. The play was about two white women on an isolated farm who harbor a wounded activist being hunted by the police. It is beautifully written, but we didn’t know whether there was an audience for adult puppet theater in South Africa. The two actresses whom we hired to do the job thought they were about to ruin their reputations by acting for an adult audience in such a play. But it was a huge success, and we managed to take it both to the big national festival, the Grahamstown Festival, and to the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town and the Wits Theatre in Johannesburg. And then we took it to the International Festival at Charleville-Mézières, France, where we were not welcome as South Africans. The Eastern Bloc countries attending the festival wanted to pull out because we were coming. The organizers were very embarrassed because, being a member of UNIMA [Union Internationale de la Marionnette, the international puppetry organization], they had to allow any member countries to perform. But they knew our presence was contentious, so they just gave us one performance at the beginning of the festival in an out-of-the-way hall. We thought it was futile; no one would come. We put out twenty chairs. A Belgian puppet company was going to use the hall after us, and they wanted to put up their seating. And we said, “Sure, fine. We’re just putting out our chairs.” (Laughs) Then the stage manager came backstage five minutes before the show started and began scrambling around. I asked, “What are you doing?” And she said, “I’m getting some more chairs out.” I said, “Oh, well don’t put chairs out. Just tell the people to sit on those Belgian stands.” She said, “They’re full.” So, actually, our one performance was jam-packed full of people. Suddenly there was an enormous amount of interest in our company because we told a story which was very specifically about our own country. All the Eastern Bloc countries were performing plays that did not approach their political situation directly. The French press seemed to think that we were mad to be going back. BJ: What was particularly special about the play was that you gradually become aware that the two women are lovers, and that there’s a relationship between the politics of sexuality and the broader politics of the land. There’s a very subtle statement being 11


the magical life of objects: ✰✰ an interview with adrian kohler & basil jones

THE CROW FROM WAR HORSE, LONDON, 2007.

PUPPET TOPTHORN’S HEAD, FROM WAR HORSE, AT THE NATIONAL THEATRE, LONDON, 2007.

Editor: Why did you name your company Handspring? Adrian Kohler: We admired a Russian puppeteer, Sergey Obraztsov, who studied with Stanislavski, and came to puppet theater having worked with the classic Russian glove puppet Patrushka. Obraztsov believed that the soul of the puppet lives in the palm of the hand. Literally, when you are talk-

10

ing about a glove puppet the puppet itself is nothing without the hand inside. And he believed that the further you got away from the hand, as with string controls, the further the manipulation energy got from the actual puppet the less it was able to perform well. He believed that the palm is the soul of the puppet. When we started our company, we hoped that lots of good things would spring from the palm of the hand. ED: How did the two of you meet? Basil Jones: We met at art school in 1971; we were majoring in sculpture. The professors were constantly admonishing Adrian for making puppets, and reminding him that at art school they produce artists, not puppeteers. He nevertheless relentlessly made puppets, and when he left art school he joined the

Space Theatre in Cape Town, which was one of the few independent, nonracial theater companies in South Africa at that time. But we were being harassed by military obligations—which all young, white South Africans had to perform—so we went to England. Then Adrian got a job in Botswana, and for three years he directed the National Popular Theatre Program. Which sounds quite grand, but it was actually a very hands-on program that went to villages around the country and used puppetry and other forms of theater to dramatize development situations and to help problem-solve. There was a team that would arrive in the village and devise a play with the villagers. It was highly idealistic, but really worthwhile.

Photograph page 10 by John Hodgkiss. Photograph page 11 by Simon Annand. Courtesy David Krut Publishing, Johannesburg/New York.

This January, just before War Horse rehearsals began, we sat down with Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones, the founders of the Handspring Puppet Company and the creators of the breathtaking puppets at the center of this show, to talk about their work in South Africa and the philosophy that fuels their art.

AK: It was fantastic. And after the Soweto riots in ‘76 a lot of South Africans went across the border and many were in Gaborone, which is the capital of Botswana. So, as white South Africans, we met black South Africans who were heavily politically involved. We had an incredible education. The exposure to that kind of thought and action wasn’t possible within the country— not openly, anyway. BJ: But, becoming members of the ANC [African National Congress] Cultural Group, as openly gay men—that was tricky, though it was amazing that our relationship was never a problem with the ANC, and it wasn’t a problem with my colleagues at the National Museum and Art Gallery, and it wasn’t a problem with Adrian’s colleagues at the University of Botswana. But it was kind of a problem with the people in general, on the street. Being gay was sort of a nonconcept. We were constantly being offered young women as wives. The other problem that we had living there—though we lived a wonderful life there, one that was extremely challenging and interesting—was that Adrian couldn’t really perform as a puppeteer. The whole idea was enabling other people to perform. AK: The play wasn’t important—it was the issues that were important. So you would reach a certain level of competence and then move on. And the level of puppetry was very basic. We dried papier-mâché puppets in the school oven—you know, overnight, and stuff like that. (Laughs) BJ: We decided, finally, that we would go back to South Africa and start a puppet company. I’d become aware of the Bamana puppets, the puppets of Mali in West Africa, and was a big admirer of them. The museum where I worked had acquired a small collection of these puppets and I was curat-

ing them, so I came to respect this tradition and to be curious about puppetry as an African tradition that had nothing to do with the rest of the world. There was a loophole in the military callup system, such that if you ran a company on your own you weren’t liable for call-up, because that could mean the collapse of your company. So when I was called up the company belonged to me. And when Adrian was called up the company belonged to him. And we kind of got by that way. AK: More or less. There were some glitches, but they were not serious. BJ: We started the company in 1981, in Cape Town. And, basically, we toured in a truck converted into a caravan. We would spend about four months making the play and the puppets. ED: And you would manipulate the puppets yourselves? BJ: Yes. We would tour to small towns around South Africa, Botswana—because we knew people there—Swaziland, and eventually to Namibia as well. We’d then go on a school tour lasting about four months, maybe, if we were lucky—two tours. And then, at the end of the year, we’d be making the play for the next year. We’d stay in caravan parks, mainly. It was quite tough; there were four of us, and we were sort of married, and sleeping together in this vehicle every night, getting up sometimes with frost on the windscreen in the mornings to trundle out over to the ablution block. But it was incredible. AK: In 1985, everything changed. A state of emergency was declared in South Africa. We were prevented from going into schools because independent groups were thought to be a little bit suspect. Security was so tight; barbed wire was put up everywhere. ED: Because part of the resistance movement was centered among students? AK: Yes, and particularly in black schools. That year there was also a terrible raid in Botswana, where one of our friends, Thami Mnyele, was killed—a superb artist. All the exiles in Botswana left. We stopped going back. Then we made our first adult play, Episodes of an Easter Rising. It was written by David Lytton, whose body of work was banned in South Africa; nobody even remembered who he was. I’d found the play in a Botswana bookshop and we had sat on it for five years. We hadn’t really thought we were capable of performing for an adult audience, but we

just decided to take a chance. The play was about two white women on an isolated farm who harbor a wounded activist being hunted by the police. It is beautifully written, but we didn’t know whether there was an audience for adult puppet theater in South Africa. The two actresses whom we hired to do the job thought they were about to ruin their reputations by acting for an adult audience in such a play. But it was a huge success, and we managed to take it both to the big national festival, the Grahamstown Festival, and to the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town and the Wits Theatre in Johannesburg. And then we took it to the International Festival at Charleville-Mézières, France, where we were not welcome as South Africans. The Eastern Bloc countries attending the festival wanted to pull out because we were coming. The organizers were very embarrassed because, being a member of UNIMA [Union Internationale de la Marionnette, the international puppetry organization], they had to allow any member countries to perform. But they knew our presence was contentious, so they just gave us one performance at the beginning of the festival in an out-of-the-way hall. We thought it was futile; no one would come. We put out twenty chairs. A Belgian puppet company was going to use the hall after us, and they wanted to put up their seating. And we said, “Sure, fine. We’re just putting out our chairs.” (Laughs) Then the stage manager came backstage five minutes before the show started and began scrambling around. I asked, “What are you doing?” And she said, “I’m getting some more chairs out.” I said, “Oh, well don’t put chairs out. Just tell the people to sit on those Belgian stands.” She said, “They’re full.” So, actually, our one performance was jam-packed full of people. Suddenly there was an enormous amount of interest in our company because we told a story which was very specifically about our own country. All the Eastern Bloc countries were performing plays that did not approach their political situation directly. The French press seemed to think that we were mad to be going back. BJ: What was particularly special about the play was that you gradually become aware that the two women are lovers, and that there’s a relationship between the politics of sexuality and the broader politics of the land. There’s a very subtle statement being 11


I think that deep in all of us we have a belief in the life of objects and the life of things around us.

DRAWING BY ADRIAN KOHLER OF PUPPET JOEY IN WAR HORSE, 2007.

BASIL JONES AND ADRIAN KOHLER WITH THE HYENA FROM FAUSTUS IN AFRICA, 1995.

SHADOW PUPPET TELEMACHUS BY ADRIAN KOHLER, ANIMATION BY WILLIAM KENTRIDGE, FROM THE RETURN OF ULYSSES, 2008.

THE RETURN OF ULYSSES, 2008.

12

ED: Do you think that as religion recedes there is something in the puppet tradition that speaks to us? BJ: I think that deep in all of us we have a belief in the life of objects and the life of things around us. We suspect that objects may have life, and that dead people might have an afterlife. So when we go into a theater and the lights go down, and we once again are shown objects—i.e., puppets—that are brought to life, I think it ignites a smoldering coal of ancient belief in us—that there is life in stones, in rivers, in objects, in wood. I feel it’s almost part of our DNA that we all left Africa believing in the life of things, as animists. That was the first form of religion, and animism is still underneath all of the religions that grew on top of the ancient religions. A little bit like the fact that in front of our reptilian brain is our forebrain, which is the more evolved brain. But the ancient brain is still part of our daily lives. As puppeteers, I think we are trying to access that ancient brain, that nonverbal brain. There are languages that we use that we don’t know we use—like the language of pheromones, for instance. Languages of movement and gesture, which are known in the theater but are not as highly regarded or understood because of the preeminence of words.

Now, with War Horse we’ve got a situation where we have a main character who never speaks and the only way that we can communicate with that character, who has to take the audience through two hours of theater, is through other forms of language. Languages of gesture, of sound. AK: Of touch, of smell. ED: You call this extreme perception. What is that? BJ: Once again referring to the brain, the forebrain is the part of the brain that kind of filters and makes sense of the huge amount of information that comes rushing toward us at every moment—through our ears, through our nose, through our eyes, through all our senses, through our sense of touch. Most of it is filtered out, and you’re not aware of it. So you might walk down a street, and all you’re really looking for is that person in red. So you won’t see all the other things in the street. That’s your forebrain doing that. With autistic people, and with some animals, they don’t have a functioning forebrain, or they don’t have a forebrain at all. And so they are hypersensitive. They have extreme perception. That’s actually Temple Grandin’s phrase—she’s an autistic person who’s written a wonderful book about autism and sensitivity. As puppeteers, we are trying to tap into that form of perception. We’re sort of asking, What if the theater audience

Photographs on pages 12 and 13 by John Hodgkiss, except Faustus in Africa by Rudolph Coudyzer. Courtesy David Krut Publishing, Johannesburg/ New York.

made there. Although it wasn’t really mentioned in reviews, that was quite an amazing and shocking thing for people. It was, in a sense, a gay play. But it was ostensibly a political play. And that is part of its power and significance. AK: Anyway, having done it, it opened all the doors—to Barney Simon, the artistic director and founder of the Market Theatre, and eventually to our association with William Kentridge; we worked with him for ten years. ED: Apart from Mali, is there a tradition of puppetry in Africa? BJ: There are a number of minor traditions, but the Bamana tradition is big, because Mali was the center of the Malian Empire, which was based on gold and existed for a number of centuries. Many of the so-called minor arts were very well subsidized, and puppetry was pretty central to the culture. All their rights of transition are mediated through puppets, for instance. ED: Does that tradition still exist? AK: Yes, at the annual festivals, which start when the rains fall in the middle of the year. BJ: But although there are other puppetry traditions in Africa, none are as strong as the Malian tradition. ED: Does every culture around the world have a puppetry tradition? AK: More or less, yes.

has extreme perception? What if the theater audience can see the smallest thing that a puppet does onstage? AK: You remove the words, and they have to look for something else. ED: Such as breathing? AK: Yes. BJ: We wouldn’t have known, really, that the audience, right from the back of the Vivian Beaumont Theater, can see a puppet breathe and know when the puppet’s not breathing. That tiny movement of maybe four millimeters can be seen from very far away. And with it you’re honoring the sensitivity of your audience. If you say to yourself, “The audience sees the most tiny things,” then that changes your attitude toward the manipulation of the puppet. Then you’re saying to your puppeteers, “Be careful. Because every tiny thing that you do with your puppet the audience can see and will notice.” The reverse is that the audience is going to see and try to make sense of any inadvertent movement. The audience will be confused because they’re going to believe that you meant to do that. So you’ve got to be very careful to do only the things that are meaningful. AK: We tell the puppeteers that if they make

that inadvertent movement it becomes noise, and the audience gets tired of interpreting noise, because they get nothing out of it. BJ: It’s sort of the Zen of non-movement most of the time—you only move when you know that you’re adding to the meaning of the moment. There’s no arbitrary movement just to keep it alive, so to speak. ED: Are you making a philosophical point, that an audience’s perception of being is expanded by their perception of what you’re doing onstage? AK: We don’t want to sound too grand. It was while working on the opera The Return of Ulysses with William Kentridge that we first really understood how to make the puppet and the singer a composite image. We had a puppeteer, a puppet, and a singer, and it wasn’t working in rehearsals. We couldn’t jell the three. It was only when we learned exactly where the singer breathed, and breathed the puppet at the same time, that it all just locked into place. BJ: I’m always interested in what puppet theater offers. We quite often have to justify our place. You know, a journalist will say to us, “Well, why puppets?” I used to get really angry when they asked that question. It was a little bit like saying to a dancer, “Well, why dance?” It’s a silly question on one level, but it’s a very profound question on another. Puppetry offers a broader range of experi-

ence to the theater; it allows us to capture ourselves in the world of animals and people. That is a really important offering; we’re realizing how interconnected we are to the lives of animals and plants. And the theater hasn’t really been able to offer that connectedness in quite the same way as puppets can. And there are areas we haven’t even begun to look at, one of which is babies and the life of babies in families. So many people have huge dramas in their lives that are connected to babies and very young children. None of that has ever appeared onstage. Why? Because babies can’t act. But puppet babies can. I’m probably not going to be the person to write the plays about babies, but believe you me, there will be great puppeteers, or puppet scriptwriters, who will eventually write those very moving, amazing plays that are about infants. ED: How is your work with animal puppets different from depictions of animals in, say, Aesop’s Fables? AK: I suppose the thing about Aesop’s Fables, or Mickey Mouse, is that they’re really people. They’re not really animals; they simply use the shape of the animal to add some kind of texture to what is basically a human argument. Whereas working with the horses in War Horse has meant that we’ve

13


I think that deep in all of us we have a belief in the life of objects and the life of things around us.

DRAWING BY ADRIAN KOHLER OF PUPPET JOEY IN WAR HORSE, 2007.

BASIL JONES AND ADRIAN KOHLER WITH THE HYENA FROM FAUSTUS IN AFRICA, 1995.

SHADOW PUPPET TELEMACHUS BY ADRIAN KOHLER, ANIMATION BY WILLIAM KENTRIDGE, FROM THE RETURN OF ULYSSES, 2008.

THE RETURN OF ULYSSES, 2008.

12

ED: Do you think that as religion recedes there is something in the puppet tradition that speaks to us? BJ: I think that deep in all of us we have a belief in the life of objects and the life of things around us. We suspect that objects may have life, and that dead people might have an afterlife. So when we go into a theater and the lights go down, and we once again are shown objects—i.e., puppets—that are brought to life, I think it ignites a smoldering coal of ancient belief in us—that there is life in stones, in rivers, in objects, in wood. I feel it’s almost part of our DNA that we all left Africa believing in the life of things, as animists. That was the first form of religion, and animism is still underneath all of the religions that grew on top of the ancient religions. A little bit like the fact that in front of our reptilian brain is our forebrain, which is the more evolved brain. But the ancient brain is still part of our daily lives. As puppeteers, I think we are trying to access that ancient brain, that nonverbal brain. There are languages that we use that we don’t know we use—like the language of pheromones, for instance. Languages of movement and gesture, which are known in the theater but are not as highly regarded or understood because of the preeminence of words.

Now, with War Horse we’ve got a situation where we have a main character who never speaks and the only way that we can communicate with that character, who has to take the audience through two hours of theater, is through other forms of language. Languages of gesture, of sound. AK: Of touch, of smell. ED: You call this extreme perception. What is that? BJ: Once again referring to the brain, the forebrain is the part of the brain that kind of filters and makes sense of the huge amount of information that comes rushing toward us at every moment—through our ears, through our nose, through our eyes, through all our senses, through our sense of touch. Most of it is filtered out, and you’re not aware of it. So you might walk down a street, and all you’re really looking for is that person in red. So you won’t see all the other things in the street. That’s your forebrain doing that. With autistic people, and with some animals, they don’t have a functioning forebrain, or they don’t have a forebrain at all. And so they are hypersensitive. They have extreme perception. That’s actually Temple Grandin’s phrase—she’s an autistic person who’s written a wonderful book about autism and sensitivity. As puppeteers, we are trying to tap into that form of perception. We’re sort of asking, What if the theater audience

Photographs on pages 12 and 13 by John Hodgkiss, except Faustus in Africa by Rudolph Coudyzer. Courtesy David Krut Publishing, Johannesburg/ New York.

made there. Although it wasn’t really mentioned in reviews, that was quite an amazing and shocking thing for people. It was, in a sense, a gay play. But it was ostensibly a political play. And that is part of its power and significance. AK: Anyway, having done it, it opened all the doors—to Barney Simon, the artistic director and founder of the Market Theatre, and eventually to our association with William Kentridge; we worked with him for ten years. ED: Apart from Mali, is there a tradition of puppetry in Africa? BJ: There are a number of minor traditions, but the Bamana tradition is big, because Mali was the center of the Malian Empire, which was based on gold and existed for a number of centuries. Many of the so-called minor arts were very well subsidized, and puppetry was pretty central to the culture. All their rights of transition are mediated through puppets, for instance. ED: Does that tradition still exist? AK: Yes, at the annual festivals, which start when the rains fall in the middle of the year. BJ: But although there are other puppetry traditions in Africa, none are as strong as the Malian tradition. ED: Does every culture around the world have a puppetry tradition? AK: More or less, yes.

has extreme perception? What if the theater audience can see the smallest thing that a puppet does onstage? AK: You remove the words, and they have to look for something else. ED: Such as breathing? AK: Yes. BJ: We wouldn’t have known, really, that the audience, right from the back of the Vivian Beaumont Theater, can see a puppet breathe and know when the puppet’s not breathing. That tiny movement of maybe four millimeters can be seen from very far away. And with it you’re honoring the sensitivity of your audience. If you say to yourself, “The audience sees the most tiny things,” then that changes your attitude toward the manipulation of the puppet. Then you’re saying to your puppeteers, “Be careful. Because every tiny thing that you do with your puppet the audience can see and will notice.” The reverse is that the audience is going to see and try to make sense of any inadvertent movement. The audience will be confused because they’re going to believe that you meant to do that. So you’ve got to be very careful to do only the things that are meaningful. AK: We tell the puppeteers that if they make

that inadvertent movement it becomes noise, and the audience gets tired of interpreting noise, because they get nothing out of it. BJ: It’s sort of the Zen of non-movement most of the time—you only move when you know that you’re adding to the meaning of the moment. There’s no arbitrary movement just to keep it alive, so to speak. ED: Are you making a philosophical point, that an audience’s perception of being is expanded by their perception of what you’re doing onstage? AK: We don’t want to sound too grand. It was while working on the opera The Return of Ulysses with William Kentridge that we first really understood how to make the puppet and the singer a composite image. We had a puppeteer, a puppet, and a singer, and it wasn’t working in rehearsals. We couldn’t jell the three. It was only when we learned exactly where the singer breathed, and breathed the puppet at the same time, that it all just locked into place. BJ: I’m always interested in what puppet theater offers. We quite often have to justify our place. You know, a journalist will say to us, “Well, why puppets?” I used to get really angry when they asked that question. It was a little bit like saying to a dancer, “Well, why dance?” It’s a silly question on one level, but it’s a very profound question on another. Puppetry offers a broader range of experi-

ence to the theater; it allows us to capture ourselves in the world of animals and people. That is a really important offering; we’re realizing how interconnected we are to the lives of animals and plants. And the theater hasn’t really been able to offer that connectedness in quite the same way as puppets can. And there are areas we haven’t even begun to look at, one of which is babies and the life of babies in families. So many people have huge dramas in their lives that are connected to babies and very young children. None of that has ever appeared onstage. Why? Because babies can’t act. But puppet babies can. I’m probably not going to be the person to write the plays about babies, but believe you me, there will be great puppeteers, or puppet scriptwriters, who will eventually write those very moving, amazing plays that are about infants. ED: How is your work with animal puppets different from depictions of animals in, say, Aesop’s Fables? AK: I suppose the thing about Aesop’s Fables, or Mickey Mouse, is that they’re really people. They’re not really animals; they simply use the shape of the animal to add some kind of texture to what is basically a human argument. Whereas working with the horses in War Horse has meant that we’ve

13


14

by Jay Kopelman

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. –Gandhi

Photograph by John Hodgkiss. Courtesy David Krut Publishing, Johannesburg/New York.

got to learn how horses think, how horses are different from humans. BJ: As a puppeteer, if you study a horse in that way your respect for animals changes profoundly. When kids come to this play, I hope that they start to think like an animal, in a way. ED: Why do you direct your puppeteers not to make eye contact with the audience? AK: It’s been our rule—and not every puppeteer follows it, but we feel that when there is a visible manipulator on the stage the audience initially thinks they’re in the way. Particularly while there are two people in a horse, and a person standing outside the head. And, by not making eye contact with the audience, that performer on the stage disappears. They’re simply working the horse. It’s the horse that’s engaging with the other characters and the audience. ED: You’ve said that, in a way, puppet manipulators are slaves. That must have come from a certain place in your past. (Laughter) BJ: No, it comes from a certain place in my body. One of the things we’ve always said to new puppeteers is that you’ll find that, in order to make the puppet look natural, you’ll have to be unnatural. AK: If you try to be comfortable, the puppet will die. BJ: You’re always serving the puppet, and when serving the puppet is painful you can easily start thinking of it as an enslavement. I’ve just come from an operating theater where I had surgery, because the last play I did was so painful that I did some damage to the tendons in my arm. AK: You don’t have to mention it, otherwise kids will never want to be puppeteers. (Laughter) BJ: But we talk about it as a sadomasochistic relationship, because there is real love, but there is pain, too, like there is with many art forms. ED: You’re going into rehearsal tomorrow and you’re meeting a company of American actors who haven’t done this play before. Could you each tell me one thing that you’re going to say to these artists? AK: That they have to communicate through breathing, particularly on a figure that’s operated by more than one person, where they can’t speak to one another because they are miked. Learning the discipline of the breathing, and learning how to make it technically

for the love of dogs ✰✰

THE HANDS OF FAUSTUS FROM FAUSTUS IN AFRICA, 1995.

He believed that the palm is the soul of the puppet. When we started our company, we hoped that lots of good things would spring from the palm of the hand. visible. And, of course, the figure has to always be looking where it’s intending to look. The eyeline of the figure is vital. BJ: I was just telling Adrian this morning, what I’m going to be saying to the puppeteers is “Please don’t think of this as a Broadway production, or a successful production, or a hit show. What we’re engaged in here is a time where we can explore new theater languages, where we have some respite from the word, and where we can look at languages of touch and languages of space.” I’m going to be asking them to think of the play in not quite such an ocularcentric way. Certainly, much of what happens onstage comes to us through the eye,

but what we have now is a period to really explore the silent languages between the three puppeteers. It is unusual for people to learn to work with such intense silent communication. The whole night’s performance is going to be dependent on the silent—the vibe, the communication, the pheromones that happen between the three puppeteers onstage. That’s a unique opportunity. It’s something new. And I think that what we want to communicate clearly to everyone is that we’re in an experimental place, and that it’s really a privilege for us to have this opportunity to break this kind of ground in the theater.

In November 2004, Fallujah, Iraq, looks like a lunar landscape or a place wrecked by a nuclear holocaust. The city is eerie—the sights and smells of death surround you and permeate your senses. The streets—the ones that haven’t been cratered by coalition bombs and shells—are filthy with carcasses, human and animal. Rancid, stagnant water mingled with blood fills the craters and gutters, along with rocks, mud, and body parts. Streetlight poles are bent and broken and strewn across streets; houses and shops are pockmarked from small arms, tank main gun, and attack-helicopter gun rounds. There’s a permanent haze of dust and smoke from the constant firing of weapons that blocks out the sun, shrouding the city in a kind of perpetual twilight and casting a yellow pall over everything. Combat doesn’t flow elegantly around you like silk robes. It beats you over the head like a well-worn baseball bat wielded by Babe Ruth or Barry Bonds. It comes at you in flashes and in moments of terror and panic, and only those who can somehow keep their wits and return fire while the bullets, rockets, grenades, and improvised explosive devices attempt to destroy, maim, and kill everything in their path will make it out alive. Combat is your worst nightmare: not the one where you’re running through campus naked, late for your last final examination before graduation; or the one where you’re falling through space and you’ll surely die if you don’t wake up. No, combat is the one (and maybe you can have this nightmare only if you’ve experienced combat close-up and in close quarters) where you try and try to shoot the bad guy but you can’t pull the trigger or your weapon is out of ammunition, and when you wake up (if you do at all) you’re bathed in sweat and you shake because you’re sure you’re dead, but in fact you’re alive and in reality the other guy, whose face you can’t remember because it’s no longer there, is the one who’s dead. For me, combat meant patrolling narrow streets where insurgents and snipers popped out of hiding places with AK-47s, RPGs, and Dragunov sniper rifles. And while you patrol one section of the city, the U.S. Army’s psychological-operations vehicles patrol another section (or, sometimes, the same section), their loudspeakers blasting all day and night, alternating between propaganda aimed at the remaining insurgents, telling them it’s best to lay down their arms, and rock and roll. The constant barrage of music and Arabic, mixed with the ongoing calls to prayer from the mosques, could cause you to go insane.

The insurgents are able to communicate with one another and coordinate their attacks through a series of underground tunnels that run from one mosque to another. Snipers suddenly emerge in windows like you’re playing some video game, but in this one when you’re shot you don’t get to hit the reset button. No, you bleed and die in the filthy streets of some hellhole ten thousand miles from your loved ones. If a Marine is lucky, he only has his thigh ripped open by jagged shrapnel. Did you know that the thigh muscle, when this happens, looks just like hamburger or, for the cultured, steak tartare, and that it’s extremely difficult to hold it together—the leg and your emotions—while you try to tell the nineteen-year-old whose leg you hold with one hand and whose hand you hold with the other, that everything will be all right? When snippets of conversations include things like “…the first guy I killed…,” “…found this baby in the rubble…,” or “…his face just exploded…,” you know you’re not in Kansas anymore. Your life is in mortal danger just going to the bathroom. This life is not normal, and there is no way to escape it unchanged. I don’t remember exactly when I got to the house that served as the command post for the First Battalion, Third Marine Regiment from Hawaii, known as the Lava Dogs because they were toughened by training on the jagged pumice of the Hawaiian landscape. It was just a few days after they’d arrived, and several days following the invasion of Fallujah, during the course of which I’d spent a significant amount of time dodging sniper fire and rocket-propelled grenades, sleeping (sort of) on the ground in the cold mud, and patrolling the city of Fallujah with an assortment of Iraqi soldiers who shot at anything that moved—including one another and the Americans assigned to help mentor and train them in combat. I was exhausted, and when I finally dumped the sixty-pound rucksack off my back all I wanted to do was sleep. Suddenly, as I was standing by the space on the floor where I slept, there was a flash and something rolled toward me. Adrenaline shot through my system. I jumped off the ground. I’m wired from all the fighting, patrolling, door kicking, and death dealing, and before I know what is happening I’ve pulled my pistol from my vest and aimed it at this grenade-size ball of fur skidding across the floor toward me. It landed at my feet and ran frenetic circles around me like a windup toy. A puppy! Only he looks more like a filthy, bloated baby panda than a dog. All he could do in the face of my pistol was puff up the fur around his neck and let loose a puppy war cry—roo, roo, roo—while bouncing up and down on his front legs. I holster my weapon and raise the dog by the scruff of his neck until we are staring at each other as though we are each experiencing a close

15


14

by Jay Kopelman

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. –Gandhi

Photograph by John Hodgkiss. Courtesy David Krut Publishing, Johannesburg/New York.

got to learn how horses think, how horses are different from humans. BJ: As a puppeteer, if you study a horse in that way your respect for animals changes profoundly. When kids come to this play, I hope that they start to think like an animal, in a way. ED: Why do you direct your puppeteers not to make eye contact with the audience? AK: It’s been our rule—and not every puppeteer follows it, but we feel that when there is a visible manipulator on the stage the audience initially thinks they’re in the way. Particularly while there are two people in a horse, and a person standing outside the head. And, by not making eye contact with the audience, that performer on the stage disappears. They’re simply working the horse. It’s the horse that’s engaging with the other characters and the audience. ED: You’ve said that, in a way, puppet manipulators are slaves. That must have come from a certain place in your past. (Laughter) BJ: No, it comes from a certain place in my body. One of the things we’ve always said to new puppeteers is that you’ll find that, in order to make the puppet look natural, you’ll have to be unnatural. AK: If you try to be comfortable, the puppet will die. BJ: You’re always serving the puppet, and when serving the puppet is painful you can easily start thinking of it as an enslavement. I’ve just come from an operating theater where I had surgery, because the last play I did was so painful that I did some damage to the tendons in my arm. AK: You don’t have to mention it, otherwise kids will never want to be puppeteers. (Laughter) BJ: But we talk about it as a sadomasochistic relationship, because there is real love, but there is pain, too, like there is with many art forms. ED: You’re going into rehearsal tomorrow and you’re meeting a company of American actors who haven’t done this play before. Could you each tell me one thing that you’re going to say to these artists? AK: That they have to communicate through breathing, particularly on a figure that’s operated by more than one person, where they can’t speak to one another because they are miked. Learning the discipline of the breathing, and learning how to make it technically

for the love of dogs ✰✰

THE HANDS OF FAUSTUS FROM FAUSTUS IN AFRICA, 1995.

He believed that the palm is the soul of the puppet. When we started our company, we hoped that lots of good things would spring from the palm of the hand. visible. And, of course, the figure has to always be looking where it’s intending to look. The eyeline of the figure is vital. BJ: I was just telling Adrian this morning, what I’m going to be saying to the puppeteers is “Please don’t think of this as a Broadway production, or a successful production, or a hit show. What we’re engaged in here is a time where we can explore new theater languages, where we have some respite from the word, and where we can look at languages of touch and languages of space.” I’m going to be asking them to think of the play in not quite such an ocularcentric way. Certainly, much of what happens onstage comes to us through the eye,

but what we have now is a period to really explore the silent languages between the three puppeteers. It is unusual for people to learn to work with such intense silent communication. The whole night’s performance is going to be dependent on the silent—the vibe, the communication, the pheromones that happen between the three puppeteers onstage. That’s a unique opportunity. It’s something new. And I think that what we want to communicate clearly to everyone is that we’re in an experimental place, and that it’s really a privilege for us to have this opportunity to break this kind of ground in the theater.

In November 2004, Fallujah, Iraq, looks like a lunar landscape or a place wrecked by a nuclear holocaust. The city is eerie—the sights and smells of death surround you and permeate your senses. The streets—the ones that haven’t been cratered by coalition bombs and shells—are filthy with carcasses, human and animal. Rancid, stagnant water mingled with blood fills the craters and gutters, along with rocks, mud, and body parts. Streetlight poles are bent and broken and strewn across streets; houses and shops are pockmarked from small arms, tank main gun, and attack-helicopter gun rounds. There’s a permanent haze of dust and smoke from the constant firing of weapons that blocks out the sun, shrouding the city in a kind of perpetual twilight and casting a yellow pall over everything. Combat doesn’t flow elegantly around you like silk robes. It beats you over the head like a well-worn baseball bat wielded by Babe Ruth or Barry Bonds. It comes at you in flashes and in moments of terror and panic, and only those who can somehow keep their wits and return fire while the bullets, rockets, grenades, and improvised explosive devices attempt to destroy, maim, and kill everything in their path will make it out alive. Combat is your worst nightmare: not the one where you’re running through campus naked, late for your last final examination before graduation; or the one where you’re falling through space and you’ll surely die if you don’t wake up. No, combat is the one (and maybe you can have this nightmare only if you’ve experienced combat close-up and in close quarters) where you try and try to shoot the bad guy but you can’t pull the trigger or your weapon is out of ammunition, and when you wake up (if you do at all) you’re bathed in sweat and you shake because you’re sure you’re dead, but in fact you’re alive and in reality the other guy, whose face you can’t remember because it’s no longer there, is the one who’s dead. For me, combat meant patrolling narrow streets where insurgents and snipers popped out of hiding places with AK-47s, RPGs, and Dragunov sniper rifles. And while you patrol one section of the city, the U.S. Army’s psychological-operations vehicles patrol another section (or, sometimes, the same section), their loudspeakers blasting all day and night, alternating between propaganda aimed at the remaining insurgents, telling them it’s best to lay down their arms, and rock and roll. The constant barrage of music and Arabic, mixed with the ongoing calls to prayer from the mosques, could cause you to go insane.

The insurgents are able to communicate with one another and coordinate their attacks through a series of underground tunnels that run from one mosque to another. Snipers suddenly emerge in windows like you’re playing some video game, but in this one when you’re shot you don’t get to hit the reset button. No, you bleed and die in the filthy streets of some hellhole ten thousand miles from your loved ones. If a Marine is lucky, he only has his thigh ripped open by jagged shrapnel. Did you know that the thigh muscle, when this happens, looks just like hamburger or, for the cultured, steak tartare, and that it’s extremely difficult to hold it together—the leg and your emotions—while you try to tell the nineteen-year-old whose leg you hold with one hand and whose hand you hold with the other, that everything will be all right? When snippets of conversations include things like “…the first guy I killed…,” “…found this baby in the rubble…,” or “…his face just exploded…,” you know you’re not in Kansas anymore. Your life is in mortal danger just going to the bathroom. This life is not normal, and there is no way to escape it unchanged. I don’t remember exactly when I got to the house that served as the command post for the First Battalion, Third Marine Regiment from Hawaii, known as the Lava Dogs because they were toughened by training on the jagged pumice of the Hawaiian landscape. It was just a few days after they’d arrived, and several days following the invasion of Fallujah, during the course of which I’d spent a significant amount of time dodging sniper fire and rocket-propelled grenades, sleeping (sort of) on the ground in the cold mud, and patrolling the city of Fallujah with an assortment of Iraqi soldiers who shot at anything that moved—including one another and the Americans assigned to help mentor and train them in combat. I was exhausted, and when I finally dumped the sixty-pound rucksack off my back all I wanted to do was sleep. Suddenly, as I was standing by the space on the floor where I slept, there was a flash and something rolled toward me. Adrenaline shot through my system. I jumped off the ground. I’m wired from all the fighting, patrolling, door kicking, and death dealing, and before I know what is happening I’ve pulled my pistol from my vest and aimed it at this grenade-size ball of fur skidding across the floor toward me. It landed at my feet and ran frenetic circles around me like a windup toy. A puppy! Only he looks more like a filthy, bloated baby panda than a dog. All he could do in the face of my pistol was puff up the fur around his neck and let loose a puppy war cry—roo, roo, roo—while bouncing up and down on his front legs. I holster my weapon and raise the dog by the scruff of his neck until we are staring at each other as though we are each experiencing a close

15


16

deep in the torso of a dead body. As the dog ate, the corpse shook like a marionette. I didn’t know if I was going to puke or shoot the beast. But I knew with certainty that this was no kind of life for Lava. Lava had become my friend, and for the young Marines who had saved him he was a symbol of hope they’d found in the carnage of Fallujah, a promise of a better Fallujah and a better Iraq. We all believed that if we could save this puppy from certain death we could somehow salvage democracy and a better way of life for the Iraqi people. But wanting to take him with me and actually getting him back to the United States was a different story. Military regulations strictly forbid troops to keep animals as pets or mascots. There are good reasons for this, too: dogs and cats can carry disease, particularly rabies, and a sick force is an ineffective force; animals can become a distraction; and an animal can give away your position at an inopportune time, resulting in unnecessary and unwanted casualties. I had no idea how, but come hell or high water I planned to smuggle this puppy from Iraq to Southern California if it was the last thing I ever did in my military career. The first step was to get Lava from the city of Fallujah to the Marine Corps base a short seven kilometers outside the city. Once on base, I had to find a safe place for Lava, because in five days I was being sent to the city of Balad, north of Baghdad. Lava’s life would now be in the hands of other Marines, who may or may not feel compelled to follow every regulation ever written, including the ones about killing innocent dogs and cats. I called friends and family back in the States, trying to find a connection who could get Lava out. But most of the people I reached out to thought I’d completely cracked up when I told them I had this dog I wanted to bring home. They were worried that I was more concerned with his life than I was with my own. Maybe I was. The days ticked by, and I still didn’t have a safe place for Lava. As I held him in my lap the night before I was due to fly out to Balad, I kept asking myself where Lava would be safest. The next morning, I brought him to the Marines who were closest to the commanding general, the commanding general’s personal security detail, or PSD. I’d previously worked with a number of these Marines and knew a few of them well. They also had their own living quarters, so it would be easier to keep Lava away from prying eyes and anyone who would want to do him harm. Easier, but not possible forever. The PSD Marines kept Lava for two months until they started to get pressure from the camp commandant to get rid of him or he’d be put out or down. A while back, these Marines had found a litter of four puppies that had been buried alive; they rescued them and then, one day while they were on a mission, the puppies had been taken to the pond on base and drowned. From my new digs in Balad, I arranged for the Marines to take Lava to Baghdad during one of their convoy security missions and deliver him to an NPR journalist with whom I’d become friendly. In the meantime, I was busy sending e-mails. Finally, I turned a corner. My best friend had a business connection to the grandson of the founder of the Helen Woodward Animal Center in San Diego.

© Elliott Erwitt/Magnum Photos.

encounter with an alien and the first to blink loses. Only the puppy doesn’t blink. He roo, roo, roos again in my face. The Lava Dogs found the puppy—whom they named Lava—during a firefight outside the house that would serve as their command post. He was inside a fifty-five-gallon oil drum that had been toppled in some explosion or by the family sedan as the former residents of this house made their getaway before the bombs and bullets ravaged their once beautiful home. The Marines pulled Lava from his hiding place, took him in, bathed him in kerosene to rid him of fleas and God only knows what other external parasites, and force-fed him chewing tobacco to rid him of worms and any other internal parasite. They then fed him religiously—if you asked, “Did anyone feed Lava today?” more than twenty hands would shoot into the air. Lava was quickly becoming their mascot. I didn’t fall for Lava right away. I wouldn’t—couldn’t—let down my guard to anything or anyone, regardless of degrees of cuteness or incorrigibility. I had a job to do, Marines and Iraqi soldiers to get home safely, and couldn’t afford the kind of distraction that caring for a dog—or any other living thing—would create. It’s not that I don’t like dogs. I do. I love dogs. To me, there is no finer companion man can have than a good dog. But then there’s Lava, hardly the epitome of a good dog. In just a few minutes, Lava could destroy anything he touched. Lava could chew through bootlaces, nylon harnesses that held your gear together, and the MRE (our food, Meals, Ready-to-Eat, that we eagerly shared with him) packages like termites through soft wood. He also had a propensity for running up to a Marine and head-butting him for no apparent reason. Lava’s singular trademark was marking his territory by defecating or urinating in some unsuspecting jarhead’s boot while said Devil Dog slept soundly. However, this only endeared him more to the Marines and, eventually, to me. He gave us all something to live for—besides one another—every day. If we didn’t come home from a patrol, we each told ourselves, who’d feed Lava? He was a reminder of everything good and right in the world. About two weeks into the battle of Fallujah, Lava began sleeping near me. At first, he’d sleep in a box padded with a fleece pullover that sat next to my rack—naval terminology for bed, which consisted of a sleeping bag on a foam pad on the ground. I thought this made an excellent bed for Lava. He was of a different opinion. One morning, before sunrise, while everyone was still asleep, I awoke trying to figure out why I couldn’t move my feet only to discover that Lava had decided he’d be much happier inside the foot of my “fart sack.” One morning soon after, I woke to find Lava lying near me, unmoving. I’d never seen him so still. I thought he was dead, but when I leaned over to see if he was breathing he was suddenly licking my chin. Instantly, Lava became my dog, and I knew that I had to save him. My affection for this fluffy mutt was growing exponentially. And the more I thought about what would become of him when the Marines and I went home, the more I worried. Then, heading back to Camp Fallujah one day, I saw a large dog, his face buried shoulder-


16

deep in the torso of a dead body. As the dog ate, the corpse shook like a marionette. I didn’t know if I was going to puke or shoot the beast. But I knew with certainty that this was no kind of life for Lava. Lava had become my friend, and for the young Marines who had saved him he was a symbol of hope they’d found in the carnage of Fallujah, a promise of a better Fallujah and a better Iraq. We all believed that if we could save this puppy from certain death we could somehow salvage democracy and a better way of life for the Iraqi people. But wanting to take him with me and actually getting him back to the United States was a different story. Military regulations strictly forbid troops to keep animals as pets or mascots. There are good reasons for this, too: dogs and cats can carry disease, particularly rabies, and a sick force is an ineffective force; animals can become a distraction; and an animal can give away your position at an inopportune time, resulting in unnecessary and unwanted casualties. I had no idea how, but come hell or high water I planned to smuggle this puppy from Iraq to Southern California if it was the last thing I ever did in my military career. The first step was to get Lava from the city of Fallujah to the Marine Corps base a short seven kilometers outside the city. Once on base, I had to find a safe place for Lava, because in five days I was being sent to the city of Balad, north of Baghdad. Lava’s life would now be in the hands of other Marines, who may or may not feel compelled to follow every regulation ever written, including the ones about killing innocent dogs and cats. I called friends and family back in the States, trying to find a connection who could get Lava out. But most of the people I reached out to thought I’d completely cracked up when I told them I had this dog I wanted to bring home. They were worried that I was more concerned with his life than I was with my own. Maybe I was. The days ticked by, and I still didn’t have a safe place for Lava. As I held him in my lap the night before I was due to fly out to Balad, I kept asking myself where Lava would be safest. The next morning, I brought him to the Marines who were closest to the commanding general, the commanding general’s personal security detail, or PSD. I’d previously worked with a number of these Marines and knew a few of them well. They also had their own living quarters, so it would be easier to keep Lava away from prying eyes and anyone who would want to do him harm. Easier, but not possible forever. The PSD Marines kept Lava for two months until they started to get pressure from the camp commandant to get rid of him or he’d be put out or down. A while back, these Marines had found a litter of four puppies that had been buried alive; they rescued them and then, one day while they were on a mission, the puppies had been taken to the pond on base and drowned. From my new digs in Balad, I arranged for the Marines to take Lava to Baghdad during one of their convoy security missions and deliver him to an NPR journalist with whom I’d become friendly. In the meantime, I was busy sending e-mails. Finally, I turned a corner. My best friend had a business connection to the grandson of the founder of the Helen Woodward Animal Center in San Diego.

© Elliott Erwitt/Magnum Photos.

encounter with an alien and the first to blink loses. Only the puppy doesn’t blink. He roo, roo, roos again in my face. The Lava Dogs found the puppy—whom they named Lava—during a firefight outside the house that would serve as their command post. He was inside a fifty-five-gallon oil drum that had been toppled in some explosion or by the family sedan as the former residents of this house made their getaway before the bombs and bullets ravaged their once beautiful home. The Marines pulled Lava from his hiding place, took him in, bathed him in kerosene to rid him of fleas and God only knows what other external parasites, and force-fed him chewing tobacco to rid him of worms and any other internal parasite. They then fed him religiously—if you asked, “Did anyone feed Lava today?” more than twenty hands would shoot into the air. Lava was quickly becoming their mascot. I didn’t fall for Lava right away. I wouldn’t—couldn’t—let down my guard to anything or anyone, regardless of degrees of cuteness or incorrigibility. I had a job to do, Marines and Iraqi soldiers to get home safely, and couldn’t afford the kind of distraction that caring for a dog—or any other living thing—would create. It’s not that I don’t like dogs. I do. I love dogs. To me, there is no finer companion man can have than a good dog. But then there’s Lava, hardly the epitome of a good dog. In just a few minutes, Lava could destroy anything he touched. Lava could chew through bootlaces, nylon harnesses that held your gear together, and the MRE (our food, Meals, Ready-to-Eat, that we eagerly shared with him) packages like termites through soft wood. He also had a propensity for running up to a Marine and head-butting him for no apparent reason. Lava’s singular trademark was marking his territory by defecating or urinating in some unsuspecting jarhead’s boot while said Devil Dog slept soundly. However, this only endeared him more to the Marines and, eventually, to me. He gave us all something to live for—besides one another—every day. If we didn’t come home from a patrol, we each told ourselves, who’d feed Lava? He was a reminder of everything good and right in the world. About two weeks into the battle of Fallujah, Lava began sleeping near me. At first, he’d sleep in a box padded with a fleece pullover that sat next to my rack—naval terminology for bed, which consisted of a sleeping bag on a foam pad on the ground. I thought this made an excellent bed for Lava. He was of a different opinion. One morning, before sunrise, while everyone was still asleep, I awoke trying to figure out why I couldn’t move my feet only to discover that Lava had decided he’d be much happier inside the foot of my “fart sack.” One morning soon after, I woke to find Lava lying near me, unmoving. I’d never seen him so still. I thought he was dead, but when I leaned over to see if he was breathing he was suddenly licking my chin. Instantly, Lava became my dog, and I knew that I had to save him. My affection for this fluffy mutt was growing exponentially. And the more I thought about what would become of him when the Marines and I went home, the more I worried. Then, heading back to Camp Fallujah one day, I saw a large dog, his face buried shoulder-


They, in turn, had a connection to the Iams Company, which had a connection to Vohne Liche Kennels—where élite protection and detection dogs are trained—and the kennel had a connection to a private security contractor that used the VLK dogs in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who would be bringing a shipment of dogs home in a couple of months. The plan was to smuggle Lava out of the country with their élite German shepherds and Belgian Malinois. This seemed like a good opportunity, but I wasn’t going to leave anything to chance, and decided, when I was sent to the Syrian border to serve out the remainder of my time in Iraq, that I’d have to coordinate an earlier escape for Lava. When I wasn’t patrolling, writing reports, or trying to get a few hours’ sleep, I was writing e-mails to my new journalist friend in Baghdad attempting to formulate a plan for Lava’s great escape. There were two aborted attempts to evacuate Lava. Once to Kuwait, only a Kuwaiti driver couldn’t come into Iraq, and an Iraqi

Combat doesn’t flow elegantly around you like silk robes. It beats you over the head like a well-worn baseball bat wielded by Babe Ruth or Barry Bonds. It comes at you in flashes and in moments of terror and panic.

18

Jay Kopelman is a retired U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel. He and his wife, an anthropologist, live in California, where they surf and enjoy the Southern California life with their two sons, two dogs, and a cat. Jay is also a former competitive bicycle racer and has written two books, the best-selling From Baghdad with Love and From Baghdad to America. He serves on the board of directors of Freedom Is Not Free and on the advisory board of the GI Film Festival and the Virtual Reality Medical Center.

An excerpt from a letter Matthew Beaumont Parrington——an estate manager, farmer, and the greatgrandfather of Tom Morris, the co-director of War Horse——wrote to his son, who was going to war. Ashprington, Totnes, Devon September 29, 1914 Now for hints on horses although I do hope you won’t have to go after all. The war must change in its nature entirely before long. It can’t possibly last as it is and where it is. When campaigning, there are lots of little things you can do with horses which may save you a lot of trouble and a lot of danger. First about food: you will have that all in your instructions I suppose, but for an ordinary horse doing ordinary work, 15lbs good oats and about 10lbs–12lbs of clean hay or other bulky food per day. Also when you get a chance give a few beetroot or other roots cut up in their corn. Carrots are the best. A horse should be fed three times a day but you must feed when you can, water as often as possible but never just before fast work. When you take off the saddle at night let them drink as much as they like before food when they come in tired. Never sit in the saddle when to a very stiff climb always will be surprised what these that mounted troops are only

you are not wanted there, always dismount. And if you come get off and lead your horse if you can or if you may. You little considerations do for a horse. And you must remember useful so long as their horses are fit and well.

After a long journey, never take off the saddle until his back has cooled (this applies to collars and harness too) down. Slacken the girth and lift the saddle a little and put it back again until the back is cool. Then unsaddle and put on a cloth. Then a very good plan is to go round in the evening when the horses are picketed and feel their ears. If they are cold and damp they must be dried. Rub till they are dry with your hands if you have no cloth. Horses which have been a little overdone will often go wrong in the night if care is not taken in this way.

Originally published in the National Theatre programme for the premiere of War Horse.

driver couldn’t go into Kuwait, so Lava would have to be taken by military convoy; the chances of him making it across the border were akin to the proverbial snowball in hell. And once to Jordan, where Lava sat in a cage in the back of an SUV for twelve hours before being turned around at the Jordanian border and sent back to Baghdad. It was heartbreaking. In the end, it was the animal-shelter-pet-food-company-training-kennel-private-security-contractor connection that finally made the impossible possible just as I was about to head home. One day, without warning, the good people at the NPR house were told to get Lava ready to travel. (Lava even had a forged “puppy passport” indicating that he’d had all the necessary shots.) He had to move from the Red Zone to the Green Zone in just under thirty minutes in order to catch his ride to the airport, where he’d join a group of these élite working dogs on their flight to the United States for a couple of months of R & R. The trick would be to get into the Green Zone, which is heavily guarded and doesn’t take kindly to reporters without the right credentials or dogs with forged credentials. There was a lucky break, however, in that ABC News had a house right next to the NPR house in the Red Zone and its journalists had the right credentials to move freely between the Red and Green Zones.

On the promise of an exclusive story on Lava’s return, they took him across and handed him off to the private security contractor’s dog handlers, who then put him in his crate in the back of a Suburban and they sped down IED Alley, as the route to the airport was known, to board the flight for America. First stop: Amman, Jordan, where the quarantine regulations are known to be some of the strictest in the world. Even some of the thirty-thousand-dollar-German shepherds had been caught up in Jordanian customs red tape and kept there for up to thirty days before being released to American officials. How would they get this five-month-old mutt through the process? The guys with Lava slept on the ground in a parking garage all night to be sure he’d be on the flight out of Jordan the next morning. Lava landed in Chicago, Illinois, in early April 2005, and came home to me here in San Diego later the next day. There were people from Helen Woodward and Iams at O’Hare Airport to greet him, and so was the owner of Vohne Liche Kennels, along with his wife and kids. We did a press conference, and ABC News got its exclusive. At the press conference on the day of Lava’s return, I was asked if my time might have been better spent saving people instead of a dog, but before I could tell the reporter that I didn’t care what he thought of my time management in Iraq Lava broke free from the person holding him and charged at me with that “I’m gonna kick your ass” look he gets, and when he reached me he just about bowled me over as he leaped into my arms and licked me for perhaps the last time in his life (it’s too submissive an act for him now). But I finally realized why I did what I did and thought to myself, Why wasn’t my time spent helping people instead of a puppy? I don’t know, and I don’t care, but at least I saved something. And, in return, Lava saved a lot of us from ourselves. Lava has become a part of my family now, a family that I would never have had were it not for him. He and I would go to the park near my home in San Diego, and one summer evening Lava grabbed a young child by the wrist and pulled him to the ground to play. The boy’s mother yelled that my dog had bitten her child, and while I was mortified I knew that Lava was only playing. Over the next few weeks, I kept seeing this woman with her dog and kid. One day, when we were the only two people in the park, I found the courage to ask her on a date. We were married in a small ceremony nine months later. We now have a beautiful family: the two of us, her son, our son together, the two dogs, and a cat. From the love of a dog came the love of a woman.

hints on horses ✰✰

Then lumps and bumps. Never mind if it’s a bruise or a sprain, bathe it immediately you stop work for the day with a sponge and fresh supplies of hot water till the place feels quite cooked through, then put a bandage (not tight) round it to keep away the cold. If there is no hot water, get a linen bandage or several and wrap them loosely round the places after thoroughly wetting them in cold water, and mind they keep wet all night. In the morning if he must work or not, put the wet bandages on before starting and leave them on all day, but of course they must be tight enough to keep from slipping. If you can, always take hoods with you for putting on the horses at night after their heads and ears have been well dried. No one knows the great benefit this is. Never put a damp rug on a horse. If he is very hot when he has finished work and a cold wind is blowing, put a thick pad of hay or straw or dry litter on his loins, then throw a rug loosely over it. This will enable a horse to dry without getting cold, also without wetting his cloth through with steam. Horses out of condition, especially young ones, you will have a lot of trouble with in this way as, after hard work, they keep breaking out into fresh sweats and will soon start shivering, when inflammation may set in at any moment. A third of a pint of whisky with twice or three times the quantity of water poured down his throat will often do wonders for a tired working horse and bring him to his feet, and it can never do any harm.

19


They, in turn, had a connection to the Iams Company, which had a connection to Vohne Liche Kennels—where élite protection and detection dogs are trained—and the kennel had a connection to a private security contractor that used the VLK dogs in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who would be bringing a shipment of dogs home in a couple of months. The plan was to smuggle Lava out of the country with their élite German shepherds and Belgian Malinois. This seemed like a good opportunity, but I wasn’t going to leave anything to chance, and decided, when I was sent to the Syrian border to serve out the remainder of my time in Iraq, that I’d have to coordinate an earlier escape for Lava. When I wasn’t patrolling, writing reports, or trying to get a few hours’ sleep, I was writing e-mails to my new journalist friend in Baghdad attempting to formulate a plan for Lava’s great escape. There were two aborted attempts to evacuate Lava. Once to Kuwait, only a Kuwaiti driver couldn’t come into Iraq, and an Iraqi

Combat doesn’t flow elegantly around you like silk robes. It beats you over the head like a well-worn baseball bat wielded by Babe Ruth or Barry Bonds. It comes at you in flashes and in moments of terror and panic.

18

Jay Kopelman is a retired U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel. He and his wife, an anthropologist, live in California, where they surf and enjoy the Southern California life with their two sons, two dogs, and a cat. Jay is also a former competitive bicycle racer and has written two books, the best-selling From Baghdad with Love and From Baghdad to America. He serves on the board of directors of Freedom Is Not Free and on the advisory board of the GI Film Festival and the Virtual Reality Medical Center.

An excerpt from a letter Matthew Beaumont Parrington——an estate manager, farmer, and the greatgrandfather of Tom Morris, the co-director of War Horse——wrote to his son, who was going to war. Ashprington, Totnes, Devon September 29, 1914 Now for hints on horses although I do hope you won’t have to go after all. The war must change in its nature entirely before long. It can’t possibly last as it is and where it is. When campaigning, there are lots of little things you can do with horses which may save you a lot of trouble and a lot of danger. First about food: you will have that all in your instructions I suppose, but for an ordinary horse doing ordinary work, 15lbs good oats and about 10lbs–12lbs of clean hay or other bulky food per day. Also when you get a chance give a few beetroot or other roots cut up in their corn. Carrots are the best. A horse should be fed three times a day but you must feed when you can, water as often as possible but never just before fast work. When you take off the saddle at night let them drink as much as they like before food when they come in tired. Never sit in the saddle when to a very stiff climb always will be surprised what these that mounted troops are only

you are not wanted there, always dismount. And if you come get off and lead your horse if you can or if you may. You little considerations do for a horse. And you must remember useful so long as their horses are fit and well.

After a long journey, never take off the saddle until his back has cooled (this applies to collars and harness too) down. Slacken the girth and lift the saddle a little and put it back again until the back is cool. Then unsaddle and put on a cloth. Then a very good plan is to go round in the evening when the horses are picketed and feel their ears. If they are cold and damp they must be dried. Rub till they are dry with your hands if you have no cloth. Horses which have been a little overdone will often go wrong in the night if care is not taken in this way.

Originally published in the National Theatre programme for the premiere of War Horse.

driver couldn’t go into Kuwait, so Lava would have to be taken by military convoy; the chances of him making it across the border were akin to the proverbial snowball in hell. And once to Jordan, where Lava sat in a cage in the back of an SUV for twelve hours before being turned around at the Jordanian border and sent back to Baghdad. It was heartbreaking. In the end, it was the animal-shelter-pet-food-company-training-kennel-private-security-contractor connection that finally made the impossible possible just as I was about to head home. One day, without warning, the good people at the NPR house were told to get Lava ready to travel. (Lava even had a forged “puppy passport” indicating that he’d had all the necessary shots.) He had to move from the Red Zone to the Green Zone in just under thirty minutes in order to catch his ride to the airport, where he’d join a group of these élite working dogs on their flight to the United States for a couple of months of R & R. The trick would be to get into the Green Zone, which is heavily guarded and doesn’t take kindly to reporters without the right credentials or dogs with forged credentials. There was a lucky break, however, in that ABC News had a house right next to the NPR house in the Red Zone and its journalists had the right credentials to move freely between the Red and Green Zones.

On the promise of an exclusive story on Lava’s return, they took him across and handed him off to the private security contractor’s dog handlers, who then put him in his crate in the back of a Suburban and they sped down IED Alley, as the route to the airport was known, to board the flight for America. First stop: Amman, Jordan, where the quarantine regulations are known to be some of the strictest in the world. Even some of the thirty-thousand-dollar-German shepherds had been caught up in Jordanian customs red tape and kept there for up to thirty days before being released to American officials. How would they get this five-month-old mutt through the process? The guys with Lava slept on the ground in a parking garage all night to be sure he’d be on the flight out of Jordan the next morning. Lava landed in Chicago, Illinois, in early April 2005, and came home to me here in San Diego later the next day. There were people from Helen Woodward and Iams at O’Hare Airport to greet him, and so was the owner of Vohne Liche Kennels, along with his wife and kids. We did a press conference, and ABC News got its exclusive. At the press conference on the day of Lava’s return, I was asked if my time might have been better spent saving people instead of a dog, but before I could tell the reporter that I didn’t care what he thought of my time management in Iraq Lava broke free from the person holding him and charged at me with that “I’m gonna kick your ass” look he gets, and when he reached me he just about bowled me over as he leaped into my arms and licked me for perhaps the last time in his life (it’s too submissive an act for him now). But I finally realized why I did what I did and thought to myself, Why wasn’t my time spent helping people instead of a puppy? I don’t know, and I don’t care, but at least I saved something. And, in return, Lava saved a lot of us from ourselves. Lava has become a part of my family now, a family that I would never have had were it not for him. He and I would go to the park near my home in San Diego, and one summer evening Lava grabbed a young child by the wrist and pulled him to the ground to play. The boy’s mother yelled that my dog had bitten her child, and while I was mortified I knew that Lava was only playing. Over the next few weeks, I kept seeing this woman with her dog and kid. One day, when we were the only two people in the park, I found the courage to ask her on a date. We were married in a small ceremony nine months later. We now have a beautiful family: the two of us, her son, our son together, the two dogs, and a cat. From the love of a dog came the love of a woman.

hints on horses ✰✰

Then lumps and bumps. Never mind if it’s a bruise or a sprain, bathe it immediately you stop work for the day with a sponge and fresh supplies of hot water till the place feels quite cooked through, then put a bandage (not tight) round it to keep away the cold. If there is no hot water, get a linen bandage or several and wrap them loosely round the places after thoroughly wetting them in cold water, and mind they keep wet all night. In the morning if he must work or not, put the wet bandages on before starting and leave them on all day, but of course they must be tight enough to keep from slipping. If you can, always take hoods with you for putting on the horses at night after their heads and ears have been well dried. No one knows the great benefit this is. Never put a damp rug on a horse. If he is very hot when he has finished work and a cold wind is blowing, put a thick pad of hay or straw or dry litter on his loins, then throw a rug loosely over it. This will enable a horse to dry without getting cold, also without wetting his cloth through with steam. Horses out of condition, especially young ones, you will have a lot of trouble with in this way as, after hard work, they keep breaking out into fresh sweats and will soon start shivering, when inflammation may set in at any moment. A third of a pint of whisky with twice or three times the quantity of water poured down his throat will often do wonders for a tired working horse and bring him to his feet, and it can never do any harm.

19


bringing a horse onstage ✰✰ by Monty Roberts

20

yielded the world’s best for me over four decades. At the age of fifty-four, I was invited to show my work to Queen Elizabeth II. In April of 1989, Her Majesty endorsed my work and put me on the road to demonstrate it to the horse world. It opened the door to a new life for me, and I have accomplished more in the past twenty years than I did in the first fifty-four. England led the way in accepting my first book, which was no surprise to anyone based upon Her Majesty’s endorsement. It was the Queen who requested the book, The Man Who Listens to Horses. We visited with experts, who suggested that it would sell three to five thousand copies. It was first published in London (1996). However, the United States expressed a great interest after the book went on the English best-selling list in the first six months it was on the shelf. In actual fact, the book sold three to five thousand copies the first week of publication in each country. Enjoying an unprecedented global response in the horse world, it has come to find its way into the homes of young, wide-eyed aspiring horse people who, along with me, have come to believe that horses can be trained and will produce the highest quality performance in the absence of violence. I never expected my book to be received in such a positive manner, but apparently the Queen did. One can only imagine how I felt the day I got a call saying that there had been a play written called War Horse. A representative of Nick Stafford and his staff told me they had read my books and wanted very much to refine their interpretation of the

language Equus. They informed me about the use of life-sized puppets created by the Handspring Puppet Company in South Africa, stating that the people must perceive the gestures of the puppets to be lifelike in order to engage the audience in an emotional connection. While I was excited about the challenge, I was also quaking with fear about being able to pull it off. I had never worked on a stage before, nor had I worked with actors operating equine puppets. “Who are these actors?” I asked myself. “What do they know about horses?” and “How the heck can I train these city kids to understand the gestures that took me years to discover and comprehend?” Still, I was excited and off I went to the London National Theatre to meet the cast. Most of them had never touched a horse before. To look at them and talk to them, they qualified as the epitome of young people raised inside the London ring road. Recognizing them as quintessential city kids, I also noted that they were fit, strong, and alert, with a desire to learn and perform at a high level. At that point I just “took off” on a mission to educate them, the same as I would do with a horse. It wasn’t me who did the teaching; I just created an environment and they learned. It was one of the most gratifying days of my career, and several times during the course of working with these young people I lost sight of who I was, where I was, and what I was looking at. Joey, the lead horse, was coming to life. I could feel it long be-

Photographs © David Katzenstein.

My life began with horses, as I was born to parents who had a large equestrian center. I think it’s fair to say that my education was virtually as much about horses as it was about academics. The framework of my adult life centered on horse competitions and academic studies. At a young age, I made discoveries regarding equine behavior that indicated these flight animals were dealt with by humans most successfully within a violence-free environment. Circumstances allowed the American mustangs to act as professors to one young man who desired to understand them in every way possible. An extremely violent father unknowingly encouraged me through his harsh treatment to find the secret of how the horses existed for fifty million years avoiding violence. My father’s brutality drove me to be with the horses as much as possible. They were to become my teachers, my providers, and my friends. During the course of this educational process, I came to realize that there was a distinct language shared by the species Equus caballus (the horse). I learned that it was a silent language, much like signing for deaf people. While my anatomy didn’t allow me to make the same gestures as horses, it was the mustangs that showed me that they also knew the silent language of the cat, the wolf, and the grizzly bear. This was my invitation to learn and perfect “the language Equus.” Champion after champion blessed me for my discoveries. Western riding, show jumping, racing, and many other disciplines

fore I could believe it. I recall telling friends about it after that first day, and I believe that most of them thought I was delusional. A few days after that first experience, I too came to think that I was delusional. On my second visit, I recall sitting back and telling myself to get real. I told my brain to get rid of all its fanciful hopes. I admonished my inner self to stay observant and see it for what it really was—a group of well-made, very large horse puppets. Two men can stand inside the puppet, one at the shoulders and the other under the hips and hind legs. A third man is at the side as if leading him along on a stafflike object resembling a lead line. Telling myself to cautiously observe breathing and head movements, I constantly reminded myself that there were humans operating these beautifully engineered, lifelike horses. At the end of that session, I was awash with excitement. The young people who made up the staff of War Horse were successful in moving this old cowboy to an emotional state. The next target on the list was to actually see the performance in the theater.

Attending my first public performance of War Horse will forever be a vivid memory for me. I watched the audience closely. I saw tears and could predict that point in time when the handkerchiefs would come out. I saw men choking back emotions. It was not simply a phenomenon of female sensitivity. I felt so tempted to call out, “They’re puppets. They’re not really horses!” I think that this temptation came from having to tell myself the same thing during my rehearsals. The opening-night party at the close of the performance was a real test for me. I wanted to take every cast member, all the assistants, the author, and everybody connected with the production and just hug them until their ribs ached. Not only had they created a runaway hit on the stage in London; they had moved this grizzled cowboy to believe their production and to understand how true it is that we have not understood the plight of the horse throughout our history. In 1942-43, I was seven and eight years of age. My father directed me one day to ride with him with a truckload of horses to Fort Ord, California. He said that these horses were to be part of an ongoing U.S. Cavalry.

I had already read about the horses of World War I, how they were treated, and that none of them came home. It was sad for me to think about these horses going to war. What I saw when I got to Fort Ord imprinted me forever against the use of horses in war. It was at that time that our equestrian facility was drafted by the U.S. government. It was utilized as a concentration camp for American Japanese, who the government said could not be trusted. During that span of time my first horse, Ginger, was sent off without my knowledge to be butchered. Later, my father said that the government needed horses to feed the troops, a statement that has haunted me for nearly seventy years now. This was a fate no child and no horse deserved. War Horse, the play, went flying onward with one sold-out house after another. It was about a year after I saw the first performance that I received a call from the executives of the War Horse production. They asked me if I would do a platform performance. I first had to ask what a platform performance was. They explained the concept but allowed me to create my own script for a one-hour trib-

21


bringing a horse onstage ✰✰ by Monty Roberts

20

yielded the world’s best for me over four decades. At the age of fifty-four, I was invited to show my work to Queen Elizabeth II. In April of 1989, Her Majesty endorsed my work and put me on the road to demonstrate it to the horse world. It opened the door to a new life for me, and I have accomplished more in the past twenty years than I did in the first fifty-four. England led the way in accepting my first book, which was no surprise to anyone based upon Her Majesty’s endorsement. It was the Queen who requested the book, The Man Who Listens to Horses. We visited with experts, who suggested that it would sell three to five thousand copies. It was first published in London (1996). However, the United States expressed a great interest after the book went on the English best-selling list in the first six months it was on the shelf. In actual fact, the book sold three to five thousand copies the first week of publication in each country. Enjoying an unprecedented global response in the horse world, it has come to find its way into the homes of young, wide-eyed aspiring horse people who, along with me, have come to believe that horses can be trained and will produce the highest quality performance in the absence of violence. I never expected my book to be received in such a positive manner, but apparently the Queen did. One can only imagine how I felt the day I got a call saying that there had been a play written called War Horse. A representative of Nick Stafford and his staff told me they had read my books and wanted very much to refine their interpretation of the

language Equus. They informed me about the use of life-sized puppets created by the Handspring Puppet Company in South Africa, stating that the people must perceive the gestures of the puppets to be lifelike in order to engage the audience in an emotional connection. While I was excited about the challenge, I was also quaking with fear about being able to pull it off. I had never worked on a stage before, nor had I worked with actors operating equine puppets. “Who are these actors?” I asked myself. “What do they know about horses?” and “How the heck can I train these city kids to understand the gestures that took me years to discover and comprehend?” Still, I was excited and off I went to the London National Theatre to meet the cast. Most of them had never touched a horse before. To look at them and talk to them, they qualified as the epitome of young people raised inside the London ring road. Recognizing them as quintessential city kids, I also noted that they were fit, strong, and alert, with a desire to learn and perform at a high level. At that point I just “took off” on a mission to educate them, the same as I would do with a horse. It wasn’t me who did the teaching; I just created an environment and they learned. It was one of the most gratifying days of my career, and several times during the course of working with these young people I lost sight of who I was, where I was, and what I was looking at. Joey, the lead horse, was coming to life. I could feel it long be-

Photographs © David Katzenstein.

My life began with horses, as I was born to parents who had a large equestrian center. I think it’s fair to say that my education was virtually as much about horses as it was about academics. The framework of my adult life centered on horse competitions and academic studies. At a young age, I made discoveries regarding equine behavior that indicated these flight animals were dealt with by humans most successfully within a violence-free environment. Circumstances allowed the American mustangs to act as professors to one young man who desired to understand them in every way possible. An extremely violent father unknowingly encouraged me through his harsh treatment to find the secret of how the horses existed for fifty million years avoiding violence. My father’s brutality drove me to be with the horses as much as possible. They were to become my teachers, my providers, and my friends. During the course of this educational process, I came to realize that there was a distinct language shared by the species Equus caballus (the horse). I learned that it was a silent language, much like signing for deaf people. While my anatomy didn’t allow me to make the same gestures as horses, it was the mustangs that showed me that they also knew the silent language of the cat, the wolf, and the grizzly bear. This was my invitation to learn and perfect “the language Equus.” Champion after champion blessed me for my discoveries. Western riding, show jumping, racing, and many other disciplines

fore I could believe it. I recall telling friends about it after that first day, and I believe that most of them thought I was delusional. A few days after that first experience, I too came to think that I was delusional. On my second visit, I recall sitting back and telling myself to get real. I told my brain to get rid of all its fanciful hopes. I admonished my inner self to stay observant and see it for what it really was—a group of well-made, very large horse puppets. Two men can stand inside the puppet, one at the shoulders and the other under the hips and hind legs. A third man is at the side as if leading him along on a stafflike object resembling a lead line. Telling myself to cautiously observe breathing and head movements, I constantly reminded myself that there were humans operating these beautifully engineered, lifelike horses. At the end of that session, I was awash with excitement. The young people who made up the staff of War Horse were successful in moving this old cowboy to an emotional state. The next target on the list was to actually see the performance in the theater.

Attending my first public performance of War Horse will forever be a vivid memory for me. I watched the audience closely. I saw tears and could predict that point in time when the handkerchiefs would come out. I saw men choking back emotions. It was not simply a phenomenon of female sensitivity. I felt so tempted to call out, “They’re puppets. They’re not really horses!” I think that this temptation came from having to tell myself the same thing during my rehearsals. The opening-night party at the close of the performance was a real test for me. I wanted to take every cast member, all the assistants, the author, and everybody connected with the production and just hug them until their ribs ached. Not only had they created a runaway hit on the stage in London; they had moved this grizzled cowboy to believe their production and to understand how true it is that we have not understood the plight of the horse throughout our history. In 1942-43, I was seven and eight years of age. My father directed me one day to ride with him with a truckload of horses to Fort Ord, California. He said that these horses were to be part of an ongoing U.S. Cavalry.

I had already read about the horses of World War I, how they were treated, and that none of them came home. It was sad for me to think about these horses going to war. What I saw when I got to Fort Ord imprinted me forever against the use of horses in war. It was at that time that our equestrian facility was drafted by the U.S. government. It was utilized as a concentration camp for American Japanese, who the government said could not be trusted. During that span of time my first horse, Ginger, was sent off without my knowledge to be butchered. Later, my father said that the government needed horses to feed the troops, a statement that has haunted me for nearly seventy years now. This was a fate no child and no horse deserved. War Horse, the play, went flying onward with one sold-out house after another. It was about a year after I saw the first performance that I received a call from the executives of the War Horse production. They asked me if I would do a platform performance. I first had to ask what a platform performance was. They explained the concept but allowed me to create my own script for a one-hour trib-

21


ute to the play with a live horse onstage. The horse American Pie would accompany me. It was so much fun. Try to imagine the opportunity for a California horseman to do a one-man production with a live horse onstage, meeting Joey, the star puppet. American Pie is the personal horse of Kelly Marks, my first certified instructor in the Monty Roberts concepts. Pie met Joey onstage and, while a bit frightened of him at first, it seems he came to regard Joey as a real horse. It made me feel better that Joey and the cast fooled him, too. Later that year, I did performances with Joey and Pie at the National Agricultural Center, Stoneleigh. It was in a horse-show arena with a crowd of about two thousand people. I was riding a horse called Copy, and Kelly Marks was on American Pie. Joey came bouncing out of a large horse van that had been driven into the arena. Copy emphatically said, “I’m out of here!” He was a basket case, and I thought he was going to have me on the ground. Pie was able to convince him that Joey was okay. The audiences loved the live horse and puppet combination, and so I was invited to do others at racetracks to let the English public know more about Joey and the War Horse play. On December 15, 2010, Joey and Pie met once more at Olympia Stadium, London, and it was a full house, with more than seven thousand in attendance. I was in California, but Pie and Joey accepted their directions from Kelly Marks. It is so gratifying to watch my concepts at work with the next generation, both horse, human, and puppet. With the facts as I have outlined them, please understand that I am asked to write so as to answer the question “Why do we love horses?” It seems like a fair inquiry, and without deep introspection anyone would have the right to ask the question. For those of us who have lived our lives with horses, however, one does not have to travel too far below the surface to begin to come up with plausible answers. I will attempt to guide you through my soul-searching observations. Horses are flight animals. They do not stalk, kill, or devour the flesh of any other animal in order to exist. They are herbivores. They graze on large areas where they can see for great distances in every direction. They do not possess anatomical tools designed

22

for violence toward other species. They live in a virtually nonviolent environment, wish to exist in a tranquil state, and mean no harm to others. Horses have but two goals in life: to survive and to reproduce. About six thousand years ago, it seems that the nomadic human population of North Africa, Southern Europe, and steppe countries began a process of domestication with Equus. Cave drawings would indicate that humans saw an opportunity to use the muscle and generous nature of the horse to move their belongings, and in some cases their bodies, from one location to another.

How could we fail to love an animal who would take up our causes for us whether they were tranquil agricultural efforts or this horrible thing called war? Thus began the saga of horses assisting man in the needs of the human. Later drawings would indicate that certain motivated people saw the potential for causing large numbers of humans to ride on the backs of horses while invading other territories in order to expand their holdings. With this accomplished, the war horse was born. In the meantime, between human conflicts there was land to clear, crops to plant, and harvesting to be done. Horses answered the call and worked for humans without a whisper of discontent. Pulling heavy loads and even groups of people in transportation became an everyday task for the generous horses that were demanded by ambitious humans before the advent of mechanical vehicles. Horses completed these tasks and were trained to do them with coercion, force, and violence as the main theme of training these wonderful animals. Man could do it that way, and so did it that way without investigating the potential for training horses in the absence of violence. Intermittently, the conflicts between human groups took place on a very regular basis. Each time these conflicts included war-

like actions, the horse was brought into play. These incredible animals gave their energy until their last breath. It was often difficult to secure appropriate nutrition for the war horse, and so they completed their duties until they dropped on the battlefield. Bullets were not just for men; thousands of horses were their victims as well. A lame horse fought on until he fell. A bloodied horse continued to perform until it was necessary to leave him behind. While most soldiers loved their horses, they typically prioritized the lives of other humans and their own well-being ahead of the horses that brought them there and assisted them in their war. Through all of that, remember that it was never the horses’ war. These wonderful animals would never know the meaning of war or understand the intent of any human to inflict harm on another. How could we fail to love an animal who would take up our causes for us whether they were tranquil agricultural efforts or this horrible thing called war? The horse truly is a pacifist. Horses want no part of war or any of the pain, the sound, or the smell of it. They are truly animals with a deep disdain for violence. And yet they came along with us and I believe they constantly wondered what in the world we were thinking about, but they did their job without question. Looking back over the centuries, any caring person would have to ask, “How could we not love horses? And how could we not question our actions with regard to how they have been treated over the millennium?” The saddest chapter in any war was when the horses were left in trenches when the soldiers were shipped home. The horses did not get a hero’s reception back in the old hometown. The play, the staff, the writers, and the executives of War Horse constitute that hero’s welcome. Monty Roberts was born in California in 1935 and won his first riding trophy at the age of four. Winning championships while attending university, Monty spent most of his working life as a professional horse trainer. His autobiography, The Man Who Listens to Horses, was published in 1996 and sold more than three million copies worldwide. Monty is the author of two other international best-sellers, Shy Boy and Horse Sense for People.

extraordinary equine love ✰✰ We asked children to write about the powerful connection they’ve shared with horses. He was tall, not too tall like towering tall, but tall enough. He was strong, not muscle man strong, but strong enough. He had a special something that made him pop in a crowd, a little pizzazz, or shebang. He was out of the ordinarily ordinary. He became a painting in front of me, a flawless sculpture of artistic freedom and integrity. He had long hair. Not Rapunzel long, but long enough, as it was winter and getting chilly. He wasn’t special, blank white coat, dark eyes, long legs, nice face. He wasn’t a fiery Arabian of some exotic color. He wasn’t an eye-popping appaloosa, or paint. He was regular, a thoroughbred defined by his ancestry, not his talent. He was the one in a million like every other in that million. He never much cared for cuddling, could be bribed with an apple, plodded along when necessary, but would always much rather stand still. He was lukewarm, mediocre, nothing especially brilliant. But in my eyes he became something of a fairytale, something unique and special. I’d tell myself that he’s so funny, so different, so wonderful, and that the bond we shared was something never before seen. But who really believes that? In all honesty, he was hilarious in the little things he did, but not so hilarious, just so-so hilarious. To me, he was wonderful. He taught me the tricks and traits and tried to fix me. But to the rest of the world, he was a horse, nothing more, of course, nothing more than a horse. —Delia Graham Costello, 13 years old My pony’s name is Daisy. I love the way she looks; her head, her pretty face. She has grace in her eyes. They are black and beautiful. I love to touch her furry furry ears. My favorite part is her mane. It is pretty, black and feels like string. Daisy is nice to me when I ride her. She makes me feel happy when I ride her and groom her. She doesn’t let me fall off. I like the feel of her back bone when I ride her bare back. She is a sweet little horse. I love Daisy. —Taylor Kingsley, 5 years old I look into the eyes of my horse Jack and I can see everything from his cornea to his pupil to exactly what is racing through his mind. The covering of his eye is merely an enigmatic veneer that appears calm on the surface. Underneath it all, he moves at the drop of a hat, constantly on edge,never able to relax. His eyes loom large as they search for exactly what noise disturbed his equilibrium. I reach out to console him, but his expressive eyes tell me that he cannot calm down until he matches perpetrator with sound. Looking into the depths of his eyes, I can tell he thinks the world is a scary, intimidating place where he can never be too cautious. His alert eyes serve him well in the face of danger, but I wish that his majestic intensity would reflect an ability to radiate confidence when viewing the world. —Mei Lan Fogarty, 16 years old


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which war

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1★ We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother.

2★ Ilsa: How nice, you remembered. But of course,

that was the day the Germans marched into Paris. Rick: Not an easy day to forget. Ilsa: No. Rick: I remember every detail. The Germans wore gray, you wore blue.

3★ The plight of the whole army was like the plight of a wounded ani-

mal that feels itself perishing and does not know what it is doing. To study the skillful maneuvers and aims of Napoleon and his army from the moment of his entry into Moscow until the destruction of that army, is the same as studying the meaning of the dying leaps and convulsions of a mortally wounded animal.

4★ General Dodonna: Well, the Empire doesn’t consider a small one-

man fighter to be any threat, or they’d have a tighter defense. An analysis of the plans provided by Princess Leia has demonstrated a weakness in the battle station.

5★ We live in the trenches out there. We fight. We try not to be killed, but sometimes we are—that’s all.

6★ I sing of warfare and a man at war. From the sea-coast of Troy in

A★ The Trojan War B★ World War II, the Pacific War C★ The Vietnam War D★ World War II E★ The Napoleonic Wars F★ The Civil War G★ The Galactic Civil War H★ World War I I★ The Hundred Years’ War J★ The Crimean War

early days. He came to Italy by destiny.

7★ I love the smell of napalm in the morning. The whole picture of the South Pacific has changed. We’re going the other way.

9★ Half a league half a league/Half a league onward/ All in the

valley of Death/Rode the six hundred/‘Forward, the Light Brigade!/Charge for the guns’ he said:/Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred.

10★ Aroused and angry,/I thought to beat the alarum, and urge

relentless war;/But soon my fingers fail’d me, my face droop’d, and I resign’d/myself,/To sit by the wounded and soothe them, or silently watch the dead.

1★I ★ Henry V, by William Shakespeare 2★D★ Casablanca, directed by Michael Curtiz, screenplay by Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, Howard Koch 3★E★ War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky 4★G★ Star Wars: Episode IV-A New Hope, written and directed by George Lucas 5★H★ All Quiet on the Western Front, directed by Lewis Milestone, screenplay by Dell Andrews, Maxwell Anderson, George Abbott 6★A★ Aeneid by Virgil, translated by Robert Fitzgerald 7★C★ Apocalypse Now, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, screenplay by John Milius and Francis Ford Coppola 8★B★ Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific, book by Oscar Hammerstein II and Joshua Logan 9★J★ The Charge of the Light Brigade, by Alfred Lord Tennyson 10★F★ Drum Taps, by Walt Whitman

8★ Look at the beach—far as you can see—men waiting to board ships.

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WAR HORSE - Lincoln Center Theater Review