Private Peaceful returns to the West End
Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle
PRIVATE Peaceful, by award-winning children’s author Michael Morpurgo, returns to the West End – to the Theatre Royal Haymarket, where it will play just 16 performances from September 18 to September 29, 2012.
Private Peaceful relives the life of Private Tommo Peaceful, a young First World War soldier awaiting the firing squad at dawn.
During the night he looks back at his short but joyful past growing up in rural Devon: his exciting first days at school; the accident in the forest that killed his father; his adventures with Molly, the love of his life; and the battles and injustices of war that brought him to the front line.
Directed and adapted for the stage by Simon Reade, Private Peaceful has designs by Bill Talbot and sound by Jason Barnes. Casting will be announced shortly.
Private Peaceful was inspired by a visit to Ypres where Morpurgo was shocked to discover how many young soldiers were court-martialled and shot for cowardice during the First World War. A film of the same name, with the screenplay adapted by Reade, is due for UK release in the autumn.
Private Peaceful received its world premiere at the Bristol Old Vic in 2004 prior to sell out runs at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2004. Then, produced by Scamp Theatre, it played three more sell out Edinburgh seasons in 2007, 2009 and 2011, as well as Trafalgar Studios in the West End in 2005 and 2007, and four hugely successful UK tours in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011.
The production has also played off-Broadway, Hong Kong, The Dublin International Festival and the New Zealand International Festival.
The author of over 100 books, Michael Morpurgo was Children’s Laureate from 2003-05. For Private Peaceful, he received both the Blue Peter Book of the Year and Children’s Book Award, the latter also for Kensuke’s Kingdom.
His other novels include The Wreck of the Zanzibar, for which he won the Whitbread Children’s Novel Award, The Butterfly Lion, for which he won the Smarties Prize and Writers’ Guild Award, The War of Jenkin’s Ear and Why the Whales Came.
Most recently, the stage adaptation of Morpurgo’s War Horse has been performing to critical acclaim in the West End, on Broadway and in Toronto, and last year saw the release of the film directed by Stephen Spielberg.
As well as Private Peaceful, Simon Reade has adapted Michael Morpurgo’s Toro! Toro! for Salisbury Playhouse, The Mozart Question for Scamp Theatre’s UK tour and Twist of Gold for Polka Theatre.
His other plays include Philip Pullman’s The Scarecrow and His Servant (Southwark Playhouse), Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Bristol Old Vic) for which he won the TMA Award, Pride and Prejudice (Theatre Royal Bath Productions) and Ted Hughes’ Tales from Ovid and Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children (Royal Shakespeare Company).
Presented by the National Theatre, Private Peaceful is a Scamp Theatre production in association with Poonamallee Productions, by arrangement with the Theatre Royal Haymarket.
Tuesday, September 18 at 7.30pm.
Wednesday, September 19 at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.
Thursday, September 20 at 7.30pm.
Friday, September 21 at 7.30pm.
Saturday, September 22 at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.
Monday, September 24 at 7.30pm.
Tuesday, September 25 at 7.30pm.
Wednesday, September 26 at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.
Thursday, September 27 at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.
Friday, September 28 at 7.30pm.
Saturday, September 29 at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.
Tickets: £10 – £25. Available from the National Theatre on 020 7452 3000 or at www.nationaltheatre.org.uk (no booking fee); or from the Theatre Royal Haymarket on 020 7930 8800 or at www.trh.co.uk (booking fees apply).
Suitable for ages 8+.
NB: The National Theatre’s One Man, Two Guvnors will continue its run at the Haymarket from October 1 after this two-week break.