Verses by author Michael Morpurgo to be read out. Show opens at Empire next week
A life-size puppet horse will stand alongside war veterans and Liverpool’s civic leaders at St George’s Hall this Remembrance Sunday.
“Joey”, who weighs 15 stone, is a character in the National Theatre production of War Horse which opens next week at the Liverpool Empire. He will appear at the service in recognition of the role horses played during World War I, it says here.
And Michael Morpurgo, author of the book War Horse - on which the play is based - has penned a special reading, with a nod to John Lennon, to be relayed to the thousands expected to attend.
This Sunday’s event (12th November) will commemorate the World War I Battle of Passchendaele, infamous for the scale of casualties and the muddy conditions in which soldiers had to fight. It was also an area where horses were used to transport food and equipment to the front line.
The Remembrance Sunday event itself starts at 10.40am with contributions from The Band of the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment and opera singer Danielle Louise Thomas. Following the Bishop of Liverpool’s Thought for Remembrance Day, the Last Post will be played which will lead into the two minute silence at 11am.
Thousands of poppy petals will drop from the roof of St George’s Hall, which will be followed by the reading of Morpurgo’s verses. Wreaths will then be laid at the Cenotaph and the service will conclude with a short parade and march past, after which individuals will be invited to lay their own wreaths.
Liverpool’s Lord Mayor, Councillor Malcolm Kennedy, said: “Remembrance Sunday is the most important event in the city’s calendar and it makes me hugely proud that each year, thousands head to St George’s Hall to think about those who made the ultimate sacrifice for us.
“War Horse is a story of courage, loyalty and friendship and Joey will symbolise the incredible, and sometimes forgotten, role of horses during the war.
Alongside Morpugo’s reading, a song from the show, which runs for three weeks in the city, will also be performed by one of the cast, accompanied by St Edwards College’s Senior Choir.
An extract from Morpurgo’s reading is as follows:
"In the same song of 'Only Remembered' from the play, we hear the words: 'Who'll sing the anthem, and who will tell the story?' Well, we will, you will, I will. John Lennon from this city did. 'Imagine all the people living life in peace…' Imagining though is only the start. We have to strive for it. Sustaining our freedom and our peace is how we best honour them and remember them."
The author won’t be attending Liverpool’s service, according to a council spokesman, but says: “The National Theatre have taken my story and its message of peace and reconciliation to all corners of the Globe, and carried by puppets. Extraordinary.
“It is no longer my story, but everyone's story. And most importantly, it is their story, the story of the men and horses who went to war, so many of whom did not come home. I shall be in Liverpool in spirit, in the story, and in my words."