On a beautifully sunny Thursday afternoon, Year 6 picnicked in Malvern’s Winter Gardens before being treated to an incredibly moving performance of Michael Morpurgo’s Private Peaceful at Malvern Theatre. The children were captivated from the start, drawn into the lives of Charlie, Tommo, Big Joe and Molly and how the arrival of WWI shattered their world.
Just six actors skilfully in their performance brought to life all that the children had learned in their Humanities lessons about trench warfare and the truth behind what happened to men accused of disobeying orders. We were impressed with how cleverly the set design, lighting and costumes were used to show all of the different scenes. Having studied extracts from the book in English lesson this week, it was great to see children recognising scenes, speeches and events and begin to deepen their understanding the themes of loyalty, respect, love and the bonds of family.
Sitting on the steps of the theatre afterwards, they shared some of what they had loved about this powerful retelling of the story.
“I was really amazed how only six actors could pull off such a magnificent show!”
“The bangs – they were so loud! My ears are still ringing!”; “I loved how they flashed back from the present to past parts of the story.”
“My favourite part was the dialogue between the characters, because it was really effective.”
“I loved the transactions between Tommo’s life in the trench and his diary entries.”
“I really liked the suspense in it, not knowing if Charlie was going to die in the end.”
“The set design was amazing; Michael Morpurgo made the story so emotional.”
The children were brilliant ambassadors for King’s Hawford, behaving with maturity and consideration for the members of the public in the theatre, and responding with real empathy for the characters portrayed.