Thousands of Brent school pupils treated to War Horse play with its author Michael Morpurgo

Michael Morpurgo addresses Brent pupils ahead of a performance of War Horse in Wembley Park. Picture

Michael Morpurgo addresses Brent pupils ahead of a performance of War Horse in Wembley Park. Picture Richard Davenport - Credit: The Other Richard

Thousands of pupils across Brent enjoyed a theatre performance of War Horse with an introduction by the book’s author.

Sir Michael Morpurgo OBE attended special performances of his award-winning World War 1 tale at the Troubadour Theatre in Wembley Park.

Over two days more than 2,500 pupils from 39 state primary and secondary schools in the borough were able to see the production at a subsidised price of £5, with their teachers going free.

Addressing 1,300 pupils ahead of Tuesday's matinee, Sir Michael said: "'It's completely wonderful for War Horse to be performed to an auditorium full of young people, many of whom will have never set foot in a theatre before.

"These are the most important audiences and I shall be sat there right alongside them, only perhaps crying a little more.'

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The heart-rending story recounts the experiences of Joey, a horse purchased by the Army for service in World War I France and the attempts of his previous owner to bring him safely home.

During the six week run of the Olivier and Tony-Award winning play, in the run up to Brent Borough of Culture 2020, the National Theatre and Troubadour Trust, have developed activities including puppetry workshops, a project with the Brent Youth Threatre and a community day for families in the borough.

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Natasha Ho, a teacher at Byron Court Primary School in Kenton said the show was "spectacular." "It is extremely important for pupils to be given opportunities to experience how entertainment does not have to be on a screen, and that it can be engaging," she said.

"Children should also be exposed to experiences beyond school, to understand that there is a lot around them to enjoy."

A pupil in Ms Ho's class said: "I like seeing theatre as it is really interesting in how they express the story through clever sets and very good acting. Theatre has a great atmosphere and is a much more exciting experience than a movie or TV.

War Horse is unique. Everyone remembers the fallen soldiers but animals were also used during the war. This makes it an interesting idea which worked out well." Alice King-Farlow, director of learning at the National Theatre said: "We are so pleased to be able to

offer young people from the Borough of Brent the opportunity to see War Horse this week.

"This play is not only a beloved and enduring story, but it is also an extraordinary piece of theatre, combining

puppetry, music, design and stagecraft seamlessly."

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