John Cooper Studio, 41 Monkgate, York
Lighting and Stage Design
Musical arrangements and pianist
Robert Readman, Adam Moore, Ian Johnson
Jane Carr, Teresa Carr
14-18 March 2017
George Stagnell mesmerised audiences and earned standing ovations – and a five-star review in the York Press – with his "remarkable performance" as Private Peaceful in this powerful one-man version of Michael Morpurgo's moving story.
George played Private Tommo Peaceful – and everyone he meets in his life – in the play, adapted from the novel by Simon Reade.
George’s previous work for Pick Me Up includes the roles of Dakin in The History Boys and Leon Czolgosz in Assassins. He also directed Pick Me Up's much-acclaimed productions of Dogfight and Les Miserables.
Michael Morpurgo's inspiration for the story came from a visit to Ypres for a conference of children's writers and illustrators. He had been invited after the publication of War Horse, his novel which at that time had not achieved the success it went on to achieve through the incredible National Theatre production.
The conference was held in the war museum In Flanders Fields – and Michael was intrigued by a typed letter he saw framed up on a wall. He went closer and saw it was from a captain in the army to the mother of a soldier, informing her in just a few short lines that her son had been shot at dawn for cowardice. At that moment he could feel the mother's grief and pain and knew he wanted to know more about the soldiers who had been executed. He had to tell the story of one of them.
The result was Private Peaceful – a story that portrays both the horrors of war and the joyfulness of life.
CAST & CREATIVE
Adam Moore and Ian Thomson created a constantly changing world of sound and lighting on a simple wooden stage that helped George evoke the joys of life and the terrors of war.
Sam Johnson devised and played piano arrangements based on themes from George Butterworth's A Shropshire Lad to provide sensitive and beautiful musical punctuation between scenes. Butterworth – who was regarded as one of Britain's greatest composers in the making – was killed on the Western Front in 1916.
Photos: Will Jackson