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“I’ve had nearly eighteen years of yesterdays and tomorrows, and tonight I must remember as many of them as I can. Tonight, more than any other night of my life, I want to feel alive!”
Based on the best-selling novel by War Horse author Michael Morpurgo, 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.
This new production of Private Peaceful first opened as part of the Barn Theatre’s first outdoor theatre festival, BarnFest, in August 2020. It then transferred to The Barn Theatre in September, making it one of the first major indoor productions in the UK since the COVID lockdown. Following the run in Cirencester, the production transferred to the play’s original home, the Bristol Old Vic, for a successful run and marked the first production to reintroduce the original ending from the acclaimed novel to the play.
Private Tommo is played by Emily Costello, the first female performer to play Tommo professionally in a performance that was described by Michael Morpurgo as “extraordinary.” James Demaine plays Charlie and various other roles.
Private Peaceful has been staged so that the two actors never touch and are socially distanced.
Private Peaceful is directed by Alexander Knott, with Zöe Grain as associate director and movement director and composition by James Demaine. Sound design is by Harry Smith and lighting design by Sam Rowcliffe-Tanner.