The actor spoke about reprising his role in Scamp Theatre’s Private Peaceful, adapted from Michael Morpurgo’s book.
You’re staring in Private Peaceful, can you tell us a bit more about what the show is about? Private Peaceful is an adaptation of the novel by Michael Morpurgo. It is told from the perspective of Tommo Peaceful, an underage British soldier, as he waits to face the firing squad at dawn. Tommo is desperate not to waste the time he has left to him and relives his whole life with the audience, remembering his childhood in Devon with his best friend and brother Charlie and the love of his life Molly and of course going off to war.
What drew you back to this character which you’re reprising? Well first of all the play is such a wonderfully constructed piece of theatre and it really does affect people a great deal. So, it really is an honour to be asked to do it again! Tommo is just such a kind and fun character to play and you really do get to create a warm, strong bond with audience throughout the show, which is really special.
This play runs in conjunction with the commemoration of World War One, why do you believe it’s important to keep stories like Private Peaceful alive? Well it is of course important to remember and honour those who fought in WW1 and to keep their memories alive. It was such a brutal and destructive conflict and we shouldn’t forget that we are fortunate to have avoided a conflict on a similar scale for the last 70 odd years. However, what makes Private Peaceful particularly important is that it highlights a part of the war that until very recently was forgotten or ignored; the execution of soldiers for cowardice. We shot 306 of our own soldiers in WW1, some of whom were clearly suffering from shell shock/PTSD, and the plight of young boys like Tommo should not be forgotten.
You’ve just finished a run at Edinburgh Festival, how did the audience react to the production? The Festival went fantastically well and both the audience and critics reaction to the piece was amazing. It was such a wonderful experience to be back there performing the piece; I felt very lucky!
What did you most enjoy about performing at Edinburgh Festival? The atmosphere. Everyone is so supportive of each other during the festival and there really is a great camaraderie between the companies performing.
You’ve worked with Scamp Theatre production before, what’s the best thing about working with this exciting theatre company? Scamp are a wonderful company to work for. They focus on producing high-quality theatre for young people and their goal is to never patronise children in their productions. Something that I think is really important!
What do you enjoy most about touring?Seeing the country! It’s lovely to go to some places you may not otherwise visit. I particularly love discovering some of the older style, beautiful theatres that are dotted around the country. Places like Brighton Theatre Royal or Bury St Edmunds Theatre Royal are just wonderful venues to perform in and really feel quite magical.
What do you hope the audience will take away from the show? I hope that in some way it makes people think about those who tragically lost their lives or their loved ones in that war a hundred years ago. But having said that, I hope they will enjoy the storytelling first and foremost! It is a piece of entertainment and, while the message of the piece is really important, I want everyone to have a good time and enjoy spending an hour or so with Tommo, who really is a sweet and rather funny person!
Private Peaceful will play at the New Victoria Theatre on the 8th and 9th October before continuing to tour the country until the 24th November. For more information visit: http://www.scamptheatre.com/production/private-peaceful