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Soldier’s moving final day in WW1 coming to Hatfield theatre in poignant play

Private Peaceful can be seen at the Weston Auditorium in Hatfield. Picture: Jonathan Keenan

Private Peaceful can be seen at the Weston Auditorium in Hatfield. Picture: Jonathan Keenan

Jonathan Keenan

The moving story of a young soldier’s final day in World War One can be seen on stage in Hatfield ahead of the centenary of the Armistice.

UHArts brings Michael Morpurgo’s bestselling novel Private Peaceful to the University of Hertfordshire to commemorate the centenary of the end of World War One.

Following a successful stint at the Edinburgh Fringe, the play will run at the Weston Auditorium from Thursday, October 25 to Friday, October 26.

Scamp Theatre’s award-winning production brings to life Morpurgo’s heartbreaking story of a young British soldier, forced to face his own army’s firing squad at dawn.

Former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo’s inspiration came from a visit to a museum in Ypres where he was shocked to discover that 306 young soldiers were court-martialed and shot for cowardice during the First World War – two of them simply for falling asleep at their posts.

In 2006, the British Government finally granted posthumous pardons to those shot at dawn for cowardice or desertion.

Private Peaceful seeks to honour these men and their families.

The play is both a compelling love story and a deeply moving account of a soldier’s life in WW1.

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.

Andy Daniel plays Thomas ‘Tommo’ Peaceful. He said: “It is such a privilege to be coming back to perform in Private Peaceful.

“Tommo is such a joyful character and playing him again feels like saying hello to an old, dear friend.

“The piece itself is incredibly special and it is so important that we continue finding ways to educate and enlighten the younger generation about the horrors and hardships of WW1, something I think this show definitely does.

“Having said that, it is also a great piece for adults and I really think it is both relevant and engaging for audiences of all ages.”

Michael Morpurgo said: “Private Peaceful at the theatre is a moving experience that not only tells the story of a young soldier’s final day in World War One, but perhaps more importantly conveys the strength of human spirit.”

Private Peaceful can bee seen on October 25 at 7.30pm and on October 26 at 10.30am.

Tickets cost £14 full, £12 concessions, and £7 school and UH students.

Book online at www.uharts.co.uk or call the box office on 01707 281127 (open Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm.

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