Tuesday, May 12, 2015

On being a horse

by Diana Kimpton
I’ve spent much of my life riding horses, caring for horses and writing about horses. Now, for the first time ever, I have the chance to be one.  

That’s because my local amateur dramatics society is staging a production of Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows. It’s a brilliant adaptation by Mike Kenny so, when I saw there was a character called Horse, I couldn’t resist having a go. It’s not a big part. I’m only on stage for one scene, but that scene is huge fun to do.
By now, you’re probably wondering if I’m the front end or the back. But this isn’t a pantomime horse. All the characters in Wind in the Willows are humanised animals so Horse is just me, standing on two legs while trying to think and act in an equine sort of way.

I spend half my time on stage with Rat trying unsuccessfully to catch me. Having spent many hours standing in a field trying to catch a horse that doesn’t want to be caught, it’s fun to put myself in the role of catchee rather than catcher and do the running away for a change.  

After I finally surrender in order to get a carrot, we set off to explore the world with Toad’s gipsy caravan pulled by yours truly. Fortunately it’s very light and we don’t go very far before we have a disastrous encounter with a loud and terrifying car. As I prance around the stage, jumping with alarm at every fresh noise, I imagine how the real horses I’ve met would behave and try to do the same.  

Of course, none of those horses could talk. But I’m sure that, if they could, their dialogue would be remarkably similar to the wonderful lines Mike Kenny has written. “Clip clop? Not clopping likely” is definitely my favourite and there are times when I’m sure that’s what my own  horse is thinking.
You can find out more about this adaptation of The Wind in the Willows at Nick Hern Books

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