ATC EDUCATION UNIT TEACHER’S PACK

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EQUUS by Peter Shaffer

April 15th – May 7th 2005 Maidment Theatre
Director Colin McColl Lighting Designer Phillip Dexter Sound Designer John Gibson Production Manager Andrew Malmo Set Designer John Parker Costume Designer Elizabeth Whiting Movement Designer Shona McCullagh Stage Manager Fern Christie

Cast: Peter Elliot, Kip Chapman, Ilona Rogers, Catherine Wilkin, David Aston, Toni Potter, Hera Dunleavy, Steven A Davis, Chad Hampson, Rudi Vodanovich and Nathan Whitaker Teacher’s Pack researched, compiled and written by Lynne Cardy Curriculum Advisor Trevor Sharp

AUCKLAND THEATRE COMPANY EDUCATION UNIT TEACHER’S PACK EQUUS

Toni Potter (Jill).3 SUMMARY…………………………………………………. Kip Chapman (Alan) in rehearsal AUCKLAND THEATRE COMPANY EDUCATION UNIT TEACHER’S PACK EQUUS .10 INTERVIEW WITH KIP CHAPMAN……………………...5 PASSAGE OF TIME……………………………………….. DISCUSSION…………………………………………….3-4 HISTORY OF THE PLAY……………………………….12 2.5 THEMES………………………………………………………6 SET DESIGN…………………………………………………7 LIGHTING & SOUND………………………………………7 THE HORSES…………………………………………………8 COSTUME……………………………………………………8-9 MOVEMENT………………………………………………….11 FOLLOW-UP ACTIVITIES………………………………12-13 1.2 CONTENTS SYNOPSIS…………………………………………………. CHORUS-WORK…………………………………………13 REFERENCES………………………………………………….14 Peter Elliot (Dysart) and Kip Chapman (Alan) in rehearsal David Aston (Frank).

” Dysart probes Alan about his first memory of a horse.blinding six horses with a spike.” The Nurse (Hera Dunleavy) reports that Alan is having recurring nightmares. he begins to question whether ‘curing’ Alan is really the best course of action.3 THE PLAY SYNOPSIS Alan Strang (Kip Chapman). Her printer husband Frank (David Aston) admits to being an atheist who blames Alan’s problems on the bible stories that Dora has read to the boy throughout his life. Dysart gives Alan a tape recorder and encourages him to record more of his thoughts about that day on the beach. as one god-like being. “I must admit”. when a young man offered him a ride on his horse. “It’s most extraordinary. Dora tells him about a particularly graphic image of Jesus which used to hang above Alan’s bed. In their first meeting Alan refuses to communicate with Dysart. Dysart has been asked by his friend (magistrate Hesther Salomon –Ilona Rogers) to help Alan to come to terms with the crime he has recently committed . Dysart decides to visit Alan’s parents to learn more. a 17 year old boy. screaming ‘Ek’ in his sleep. she says of the picture which showed Christ loaded down with chains. replying to his questions by singing advertising jingles. wearing a gold mask (like the Mask of Agamemnon) . She also taught Alan that the Latin word for horse was Equus. He describes religion as. It comes out all eyes. Alan thought it was wonderful.” Frank ripped the picture down during one of their fights about religion and replaced it with a photograph of a horse that Alan became fascinated with. Jill Mason (Toni Potter). “just bad sex. SUMMARY ACT ONE The play opens with the image of a teenage boy. Frank Strang is the final visitor and he tells Dysart how he discovered Alan reciting a biblical style genealogy whilst kneeling in front of the horse picture and beating himself with a coat hanger. Dora. and that he always suspected Alan of secretly taking the horses out at night and riding them. Following this session Dysart has a dream where he is an ancient Greek priest. “it was a little extreme. How can he help Alan become less anguished and more socially acceptable without destroying his spirit? Despite his doubts Dysart goes through with the treatment and the play ends when the boy finally faces his most repressed memory and the doctor is left with a sense of self-loathing for ‘normalising’ Alan.son of Fleckwus – son of Neckwus’ AUCKLAND THEATRE COMPANY EDUCATION UNIT TEACHER’S PACK EQUUS . Dysart slowly unravels the reasons behind Alan’s abhorrent act and as he comes to understand the inner world of worship that Alan has created around the horse-god. embracing a horse (Nugget – Steven A Davis) and is underscored by a monologue delivered to the audience from Dysart. Reluctantly the boy tells him about a childhood incident on the beach.visits next and reveals that Alan got the job at the stables through his employee. Dysart then receives a series of visitors all of whom reveal important information. He tells Dysart that he hasn’t ridden since. his mother (Catherine Wilkin). an over-worked and selfdoubting psychiatrist. ‘Equus .and ritually killing children – all of whom look like Alan. is brought to a psychiatric hospital for treatment after he blinds six horses with a metal spike. Structured like a mystery. Alan. Dalton the stable owner (Jon Brazier). He tells Hesther “treating him is going to be unsettling. His subsequent treatment by psychiatrist Martin Dysart (Peter Elliot) and the explosive encounters between the two form the basis of the play.” says Dora. tells him that Alan has always loved horses and as a child was fascinated by a story she told him about the Christian Cavalry who were perceived by the awe-struck pagans of the New World to be joined to their horses. but his parents were worried and in their fuss caused him to fall off the horse. Equus.

leaving Dysart to have the final comment. however. Listening to the tape Dysart learns that Alan found his first horse ride sexy. with the intimate image of boy embracing horse and Dysart delivers another monologue. He is shocked however to be found at the movie by his father and even more shaken by the fact that his father is there too. Afterwards an angry Alan denies everything he told Dysart under hypnosis (the ride with Nugget). Dysart tries hypnosis on Alan and encourages him to act out his secret night time horse rides. Feeling pleased that he has gained his trust.4 Dysart instantly understands that the ‘Ek’ of Alan’s nightmares is Equus. Alan later admits that what he said under hypnosis was true and that he understands why he is being treated. Once there. “Yet if I don’t know – if I can never know – then what am I doing here?” The nurse rushes in to tell him that Alan is in a terrible fight with his mother. ‘There is now. In their next session he asks Alan about his relationship with Jill Mason and discovers how the pair first met and about Alan’s first day at the stables when he was clearly excited by being around the horses. directly addressing the audience. in a session when Alan acts out the events of the night at the stables. Alan orders Jill out of the stables and then blinds the horses in a frenzy. but his self-doubt has turned to desperation and self loathing. Alan is spent at the end of this session. revealing that he is questioning his own ability to treat Alan. He walks her home and accepts her invitation to go off together. suggesting that Dysart & his wife never have sex. that he might reveal more of his secrets if he were given a ‘truth drug’. AUCKLAND THEATRE COMPANY EDUCATION UNIT TEACHER’S PACK EQUUS . And it never comes out’. On and on and bloody on! Tell me. in my mouth. After Frank Strang confronts the teenagers Alan realizes two things. this sharp chain. “Nosey Parker! That’s all you are! Bloody Nosey Parker! Just like Dad. Dysart tries a placebo truth drug. who takes him to see a pornographic movie and when he sees a naked woman for the first time he is aroused. He can hear the disapproval of Equus. Alan becomes enraged. the young couple undress but despite Jill’s encouragement Alan cannot bring himself to go further with her because of the proximity of the horses. an aspirin. Talking to Hesther. He does suggest. he has also begun to extinguish any passion. As the first act closes Alan rides Nugget and brings his inner world of worship to life in an overwhelming display of ritual and passion. This unsettles Dysart because Alan has touched a nerve and he complains to Hesther about his sterile marriage and frustration with the lack of passion and worship in his own life. but is disturbed when she suggests that they go to the stables. Never stop!” Alan begins to question Dysart about his own marriage. Frank also tells Dysart that on the night he attacked the horses. inspiration and creativity that the boy possesses. Dysart feels very reluctant to cure Alan. Dysart ends the play as he began. has a secret life and he realises that he is very attracted to Jill and wants to be with her. He goes on a date with Jill Mason. However. he understands that his father is just like any other man and like him. Answer that. ACT TWO The second act opens like the first. Dora tells the doctor that she thinks Alan has the Devil in him. Alan was on a date with a girl. He is in an increasing state of turmoil and laments that although he has finally encouraged Alan to face the truth and thereby offered him some relief from the anguish of Equus. tell me. when the doctor starts to question his feelings for Jill. tell me! Answer this. admiring the passion in the boy’s life and not wanting to deny him the worship he has created. and also that he thought that the horse spoke to him.

PASSAGE OF TIME Equus combines a main plot that unfolds in the present with repeated flashbacks of past events and memories. Alan in the present is lying in his hospital bed. the ‘boxing-ring’ set. the play went on to win the 1975 Tony Award and New York Drama Critic’s Circle Award for Best Play in the same year. ‘Yes Doctor. but the nurse responds to Dysart. for example. In the original production the full cast sat on benches onstage throughout the production.so it’s necessary to pay careful attention to the pacing and energy of the play – so Peter Elliott doesn’t burn out too soon – and to ensure that other actors bring a new burst of energy on for him to keep the momentum going. The combination of expressionistic theatrical elements (the highly stylised chorus of masked horses.5 HISTORY OF THE PLAY Shaffer based the play on an allegedly true story he was told by a friend about a young boy who blinded a stable of horses. but he takes part in his mother’s memories by becoming his childhood self in the scene. about what auditions are coming up about who’s having an affair with whom ). allowing them to easily slip from one scene and part of the stage to another. Dysart’s visits to the family home and the inevitable re-enactment of the night in the stables are flashbacks. The original national theatre production by John Alan riding nugget – John Dexter production 1973 Dexter was very powerful and affected subsequent productions of the play for years after. Echoes of the play can be found in everything from Thomas Harris’ The Silence of the Lambs to The Sopranos where the detective-protagonist must face his own demons in order to help his client. Most of the therapy sessions happen in the present. during the scene when Dysart visits Alan’s parents and learns about the boy’s childhood fascination with horses. the nudity) was considered ground-breaking over thirty years ago. Shaffer never found out any details about the true events but he says he wrote Equus to “create a mental world in which the deed could be made comprehensible”. (Colin McColl) Critics praised Shaffer’s bold mixture of dramatic genres. the visits from various characters to Dysart. AUCKLAND THEATRE COMPANY EDUCATION UNIT TEACHER’S PACK EQUUS . asks ‘Ek?’. When Dysart is telling Hesther about Alan’s nightmares in the present. Sometimes these are presented as brief vignettes that are woven into a present-time scene. mystery/psychological thriller. the actors move from one part of the stage to another to bring to life these memories. the Nurse appears to Dysart in the past and tells him about Alan screaming out ‘Ek’ in his sleep. not Dysart. but has chosen to move away from this device: I always wanted the focus to be on Dysart and Alan so I moved on from the initial idea of having all the cast sitting on stage all the time ( actors hate it anyway . After premiering at the Old Vic theatre in London in 1973. Because scenes in the past and present overlap many times. In his production. but Alan’s childhood memories. however. Director Colin McColl has retained a sparse environment for the story to unfold in. Dysart is never off stage .they like to get back to the dressing room and gossip about the audience. as do some of Dysart’s conversations with Hesther and his monologues. Equus ran for more than one thousand performances in New York and is considered a modern classic. Greek tragedy (the cathartic events that take place in Alan’s journey and the Horse Chorus) and also a contemporary examination of mental illness.’ Similarly. Ek. Hesther.

The more he learns about Alan (through the therapy process) the more he comes to realise that he has no real worship in his own life. And at home he recites a biblical genealogy whilst kneeling in front of the picture of the horse in his bedroom and beating himself with a coat hanger. Of course the play has many other themes to explore and that’s what makes it such a rich text. Alan takes off all his clothes and displays himself naked to the horse. informed by the tales of Christ’s crucifixion. “Equus. “Can you think of anything worse you can do to anyone than take away their worship?” resonates for me when I think of American troops in Iraq. who they believed influenced various facets of their lives. AUCKLAND THEATRE COMPANY EDUCATION UNIT TEACHER’S PACK EQUUS . like his first exhilarating ride on the horse. Worship and Religion are themes continually explored throughout the play. and the horse picture that replaces the crucifixion in his bedroom. He offers Nugget a lump of sugar calling it his ‘last supper’. son of Fleckwus. The first (and one of the most devastating) things they do to Muslim prisoners is to deny them the right to worship their religion. son of Neckwus…” The presence of ancient gods or god-like figures also permeates the play. like the mask Mask of Agamemnon of Agamemnon’ in his dream and later he reveals his passion for ancient. Other themes explored in Equus include sex and sexuality. bible stories from his mother and even the ‘extreme’ crucifixion image that used to hang at the end of his bed. Dysart discusses his passion for these gods with Hesther and laments that all of his travels in Greece have been organized down to every detail. love and war. He wears what he calls a ‘sacred stick’ (‘my manbit’) in his mouth. Greek culture embraced many gods. You know (quoting) ‘Hast thou given the horse strength?” ‘Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?’ ‘The glory of his nostrils are terrible’ ‘He swallows the ground with fierceness and rage!’ ‘He saith amongst the trumpets –‘ ‘Ha! Ha!’ In the field. Dysart’s dreadful dilemma is that the religion and passion he admires in Alan has led directly to the blinding of six horses. He has invented both the language and sacraments of his horse-god worship. health. pagan Greek society and his frustration with his controlled life. adolescence. the bridle & bit becomes the ‘chinkle-chankle’ and he puts ‘sandals of majesty’ on the Nugget as he prepares for the ritual of their nighttime rides.6 THEMES Colin McColl discusses the central theme he identified in his approach to presenting Equus: I was interested in the idea of worship and Dysart’s dilemma in treating Alan Strang. Alan has created his own religion. His religion is also informed by pivotal childhood experiences. including the weather. Such a noble passage. Dysart dreams of wearing a ‘broad gold mask. the horse chorus recalls the masked chorus of ancient Greek theatre. which traditionally served to pass comment on the action of the play. he calls it his place of ‘Ha Ha’: Dora: Alan (responding): Dora (to Alan): Alan: Dora: Alan (trumpeting): The book of Job. The line from the play. while he rides. When he leads Nugget to the field. Most visibly. harvests. sanity and insanity and personal freedom versus normality.

Colin McColl and set designer John Parker were influenced by the sense of Dysart reading through his notes as he remembers the events.7 SET DESIGN The set design is minimal and abstract and therefore open enough to reflects many of the key themes of Equus The Greek gods are referenced in the six metre high corrugated iron walls that encircle the stage and dwarf the actors (the mortals) and combined with the concrete stage floor the set also resembles a Greek temple and even a ritualistic altar.when the horses appear. Naturalistic sound effects would seem out of place in a production that is so minimal and abstract. They came up with a space for the Equus story to unfold in that suggests states of mind. and Dexter introduces vast shafts of light in order to create a god-like atmosphere and to suggest Alan’s state of mind whenever he is near the horses. Six metre high walls of corrugated iron surround the space in a semi-circular configuration. The height of these walls and the light coming through them emphasise the god-like quality of the horses in Alan’s mind. When they are not entering the space in this ‘god-light’ the horse chorus is largely in shadow. The first is a score of pre-recorded classical music. They were also interested in getting inside Dysart’s mind and the set also reflects this. AUCKLAND THEATRE COMPANY EDUCATION UNIT TEACHER’S PACK EQUUS . and is made up of three distinct elements. SOUND Sound Designer John Gibson has created a unique environment of sound that he describes as. rather than locations. the second is recorded sound effects that have been amplified or treated with delays and the third is organic sounds (like the horse’s hooves and the actor’s footsteps on the concrete floor) that are heard by the audience in real-time. The floor is concrete. intending to emphasise the sterile aspect of Dysart’s state of mind and also to suggest the clinical environment of the psychiatric hospital. The chorus of horses enters the space through the back wall. as they happen onstage. a cinema (retro art deco) and even a slaughterhouse. “like entering a world.” This ‘soundscape’ is designed to evoke a state of mind – most especially Alan’s mind. The sterile quality of the design reflects the regimentation of Dysart’s mind – the very lack of passion and spontaneity that he so envies in Alan – and it also serves to suggest an asylum. The most dramatic lighting changes occur. In this way Dysart is like a detective unraveling the mystery and sharing his discoveries with the audience. which separates and opens up (like a stable door) whilst shafts of light come through it. In other ways the set design underlines the point of view of the central characters. the stables. a padded cell. LIGHTING and SOUND LIGHTING Lighting Designer Philip Dexter has created an industrial feel. Dysart is the character who directly addresses the audience and provides details that assist them to understand what is happening in the play.

COSTUME Theatrical sensibilities have changed since the 1970s and horses in brown velour track suits with realistic looking wire horse heads seem funny to us today. Any literalism which could suggest the cosy familiarity of a domestic animal…should be avoided. gloves and masks made of leather & wire. Eventually the headpieces were discarded completely. Colin McColl In the original production the horses were costumed in chestnut brown velvet tracksuits. They must always stand upright…as if the body of the horse extended invisibly behind them. Colin McColl One of the most striking elements of the original production was the chorus of actors as horses. In the original staging they wore non-naturalistic masks of leather and wire and Shaffer states in his introduction to the published play that ‘no attempt should be made’ to conceal the actors heads. strapping that suggested bridles. ‘these masked presences standing in the shadows of the stable manage to suggest the eeriness and power of…the old hoofed god” (The New Yorker 1975) It is interesting to contrast the way the horse chorus were costumed and presented in 1973 with Colin McColl’s 2005 production. four inch high ‘hooves’. builtup shoes (called ‘buskins’) and a helmetlike headdress instead of a mask. Rudi Vodanovich and Nathan Whitaker) One of the special things about Equus is the totally unique way the horses are portrayed as actors – not the usual pantomime back of the donkey horse – but a lyrical and evocative suggestion of the power of the horse. Hera Dunleavy. He goes on to say that. Shaffer is very clear in his description of how the horses should be presented: The actors should never crouch on all fours or even bend forward. Chad Hampson. bare chests. Jon Brazier. In her initial costume sketches she looked at exposed flesh. Horse Mask – leather and silver wire – John Dexter production 1973 AUCKLAND THEATRE COMPANY EDUCATION UNIT TEACHER’S PACK EQUUS .8 THE HORSES (Steven A Davis. to bring the production up to date for a 21st century audience. Costume designer Elizabeth Whiting wanted to move away from these original ideas. Critics at the time commented on the powerful presence of the horse chorus.

Elizabeth Whiting Initial Costume Sketches (Elizabeth Whiting) Actors rehearsing in built-up shoes – ‘buskins’ SEE FOLLOW-UP ACTIVITIES FOR SHAFFER’S DESCRIPTION OF THE HORSES AUCKLAND THEATRE COMPANY EDUCATION UNIT TEACHER’S PACK EQUUS .9 The helmets went through two further permutations before they disappeared. Shona worked with minimal movements to create the horse persona using the built up shoe we had provided as the only costume key. Some time in the early design discussions the idea of the horses wearing as little as possible was mooted and it is interesting to see that we have moved back to this.

neck and head has to represent the whole of the horses lean and muscular neck and torso. The field trip was to prove influential in the development of the choreography of the horse chorus. head tossing and ground stamping of horses. (Shona McCullagh) All photos this page . the Witch and the Wardrobe and King Kong. organic and subtle palette of movement”. She is a NZ Arts Foundation Laureate and aside from her enormous contribution to the development of live dance in New Zealand. There was one main practical consideration in working with the actors as horses: The height of the buskins meant that any fast movement had the potential to look silly. Six actors have to play horses in Equus. I was hugely influenced by the intelligence. she explained that actually horses are quite still a lot of the time! (Colin McColl) I found the research we did at Jools Topp’s natural horsemanship ranch invaluable. arms. Shona then became more attracted to the idea of stillness and found “the flinching of the horses flesh” was the best way to represent them. When we watched Jools Topp work with her horses. The actors had to be very careful with their facial expressions not to belittle the horse’s intelligence and we had to find a way to be as beautiful as the horses really are.Horse Chorus in rehearsal Shona McCullagh holds a unique position in New Zealand as an outstanding dancer/ choreographer. Initially Shona wanted to develop the horse’s characters and their relationship with Alan Strang by creating an “authentic. Chad Hampson is a professional dancer and other horse chorus actors were cast also for their movement skills. How do you do that? Shona and I decided that we must get the essence of horses and not try and portray them in anyway realistically. The actors developed a language of movement that recalls the flinching. she has also recently created choreography for three feature films.10 MOVEMENT In the first week of rehearsal the cast with the Director and Movement Designer (Shona McCullagh) visited the ranch of horse wrangler Jools Topp to observe horses first-hand and gain some expert advice on horse behaviour. Any slackening of the body instantly dissolves the character of the horse. SEE FOLLOW-UP ACTIVITIES ON CHORUS-WORK AUCKLAND THEATRE COMPANY EDUCATION UNIT TEACHER’S PACK EQUUS . dance filmmaker and educator. Perfect Creature. At least one of the actors. Posture for the actors became very important – the upper body. body language and mana of the animals and this in turn influenced how we approached playing them. The Lion. So the costumes influenced a semi-slow motion quality to the movement. This is what Alan saw in them and I wanted the audience to really see this too.

The range moves from pedestrian to humiliation to anger to horror to hurt and sadness. Alan falls over a lot. How do you prepare for the nudity in the play? At first I didn’t think about it. I am sharp & precise. AUCKLAND THEATRE COMPANY EDUCATION UNIT TEACHER’S PACK EQUUS . so I applied to Drama school (UNITEC). for example. teachers & my family. The Talented Mr Ripley. my approach is to get into Alan’s head and understand his knowledge and the realms of his experience.11 INTERVIEW WITH KIP CHAPMAN (ALAN STRANG) Following his graduation from UNITEC School of Performing and Screen Arts in 2002. I guess nudity is still shocking to audiences here today. He goes from being closed and very contained to very out there. The character is the real challenge. I’m eating less! Maybe I’ll get drunk the night before! It’s actually harder playing this character and approaching the range of emotions that he goes through. I realised then that being a professional actor wasn’t a mystery it was something I was already comfortable with. And I already have aches and pains from working on the paving stones in bare feet – I’ve got sore feet. but now half-way through the rehearsal process I think I should be thinking about it! I’ve never done it before. Macbeth. It’s extreme. I thought this was my only option until I saw a dress rehearsal of Trainspotting at The Court Theatre and heard the actors relating to each other just like my friends and I did when we were doing our shows at school. I knew I wanted to be a performer and my parents encouraged me to go to Broadcasting School in Christchurch. his solo show Arohatearoa. In this play the nudity serves the story and that’s really important. and Downstages’ Big River for which he received the Chapman Tripp award for Best Male Newcomer. A Clockwork Orange. And I was in the Cathedral choir. than even thinking about appearing naked.I was lucky because I was totally supported by my school. Kip Chapman and Toni Potter (Jill Mason) in rehearsal How did you get into acting? Through school! I went to Christ’s College in Christchurch and we always did lots of shows – about six a year. Which is worse? Is it a physically demanding role? Yes! We are rehearsing in a space with a concrete floor – which is good because the stage will be concrete too.boom! You just do it! I can think of acting jobs I’d be less comfortable with than doing this nude scene. Experiencing the different levels of reality he goes through is challenging. and I think it’s important that the audience is confronted by the scene. what he does & doesn’t know at seventeen. Kip has appeared on our screens in Shortland Street and Serial Killers. Is it intimidating working with such experienced actors? The role is more intimidating than the cast! In general the roles I am taking now are more intimidating What have been your greatest challenges playing Alan? The journey the character goes on and the range of emotion & experience in that journey. Kip considers the highlight of his career so far to be the fact that he has had the opportunity to work on such a wide range of projects and with so many different people. In the end . doing an ad where I’m promoting some multinational company I don’t like. and on the stage in a wide variety of performances including Hamlet. But the writing is very sharp and precise – I like that and my training has helped me with that. Did you take a physical approach to playing a 17 year old character? No.

• Discuss the similarities and differences in the presentation of the horses in the original 1973 production and Auckland Theatre Company’s 2005 production of Equus. sound) to form an overall concept for the Auckland Theatre Company’s production? • • Horse Chorus in rehearsal AUCKLAND THEATRE COMPANY EDUCATION UNIT TEACHER’S PACK EQUUS . so that the masking has an exact and ceremonial effect. neck. set on metal horse-shoes. Animal effect must be created entirely mimetically. face.12 FOLLOW-UP ACTIVITIES DISCUSSION Read Shaffer’s description of the horses in Equus published in the Penguin edition. about four inches high. their eyes are outlined by leather blinkers. and the turn of the head which can move the mask above it through all the gestures of equine wariness and pride. Why do you think the director made decisions to change the way some elements are staged in this production from the way they are written in the script? How does the concept of the horses (costume and movement) relate to other production ideas (set. They must always – except on the one occasion where Nugget is ridden – stand upright. through the use of legs. On their heads are tough masks made of alternating bands of silver wire and leather. Any literalism which could suggest the cosy familiarity of a domestic animal – or worse. Great care must also be taken that the masks are put on before the audience with very precise timing – the actors watching each other. THE HORSES The actors wear track-suits of chestnut velvet. a pantomime horse – should be avoided. as if the body of the horse extended invisibly behind them. The actors should never crouch on all fours . knees. On their feet are light strutted hooves. or even bend forward. The actor’s own heads are seen beneath them: no attempt should be made to conceal them. On their hands are gloves of the same colour. lighting.

The movement is fluid and people can change from lines. They are a dot. but rather as a clump. Alan perceives the horses to be god-like. trusting. In groups of five or more find a space in the room and knot yourselves up into a crazy position. what worked. They may at anytime move next to someone else. this time working as horses. Now try working as ‘god-like’ horses. 8. as in Equus. until you find sound. They may move at any time and bunch up with any number of people to form a clump. 7. Use your explorations to help you prepare this scene. or a number of other people. 3. Go through the exploration process. Look at the Act One. Try and cross the room together without coming undone. Split the whole group up and have half the group watch the others. listening to each other. 2. Experiment with moving in different speeds and rhythms and change configurations (clumps. Crossing the room #2. weak etc. Chorus the sounds of the leader as well as the movements. EXERCISES 1. Cross the room as a group with at least two people not being allowed to touch the floor at all. 6.13 FOLLOWFOLLOW-UP ACTIVITIES CHORUS There are many useful approaches to exploring chorus work with a group. whilst staying close together. when Alan sees the horses in the stable for the first time. Crossing the room #3. change leaders often. 3. as well as traveling. lines. movement and still moments that are working for the group. Change leader and change direction. 4. dots and clumps as often as they like. In groups of threes move together through the space as a group – without talking – and with one person leading. what was exciting. to form a line. Move across the space in your horse chorus. and stay physically as close together as you can without falling over or bumping into each other. The rest of the group isn’t allowed to use their hands or arms to carry them. waiting. Don’t move as a line. Lines and Clumps echo the movements of those in the line or clump. Use these exercises to warm-up and explore the horse chorus and then try applying these techniques to preparing a scene from Equus. Crossing the room #1. Here are some examples of physical exercises introduced through games. Everyone starts on their own in space. 9. Keep up with the changes. but only one person is allowed to move at a time. single file etc) and leaders as often as you like. Listen to their feedback. To music. Scene 16 in Equus. Flocking. 2. Now start again. Cross the room without losing physical contact with the group. How can you chorus Alan’s view of the horses and also show us a realistic group of horses? AUCKLAND THEATRE COMPANY EDUCATION UNIT TEACHER’S PACK EQUUS . Experiment with bringing animal qualities into your flock. 5. when was the chorus powerful. GAMES 1. watching). Change or extend the movement of the animal with each leader – use every level of the space and experiment with being still as a group (listening. Lines. 4. focus on keeping close together. Leaders are established and then move on. Bring sound into your animal explorations. Dots and Clumps. keeping up with each new offer. It is important when embarking on any ensemble work to build and generate a strong sense of trust and of working together. keeping upright and working with the humming sound described in the script.

penguinputnam. Go to www.edu search for ‘theatre’ and in the theatre section search ‘Equus’.14 REFERENCES Other plays by Peter Shaffer include: The Salt Land (1954) Five Finger Exercise (1959) The Royal Hunt of the Sun (1963) Amadeus(1979) Lettice & Lovage (1987) There are several useful websites for Equus research: www.com The University of Indiana in Bloomington has some interesting images and information about their production of Equus (2000). the teacher’s pack or any other queries relating to ATC’s Education Programme. REVIEWS Copies of press reviews for Equus are available from Auckland Theatre Company. Please contact the ATC Education Unit for further information on this production.iub. Lynne Cardy Education Unit Coordinator 09 309 0390x67 (DDI) 09 309 0391 (Fax) AUCKLAND THEATRE COMPANY EDUCATION UNIT TEACHER’S PACK EQUUS .ch/english/readinglist/shafferp www.educeth.

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