Private Peaceful Review

Invergordon Academy staff, parents, and pupils witnessed ‘outstanding’ and ‘moving’ performances by the Invergordon Youth Theatre on Wednesday 11th and Thursday 12th June 2014.

Based on Michael Morpurgo’s critically acclaimed novel, ‘Private Peaceful’ tells the story of two brothers fighting in the trenches of World War One and focuses on the reflections of Thomas ‘Tommo’ Peaceful’s somewhat tragic childhood with his older brother, Charlie. Audiences were thoroughly impressed by the pupils’ abilities.

‘Private Peaceful’ not only demonstrates the talent of Invergordon, it also conveys the journey the Drama group have taken.

In the past, Invergordon have excelled in the arts, producing many talented musicians and artists within these departments of the school. This is most certainly down to the gifted and hard working students, yet the outstanding teachers of the Academy must be recognised for their ability to deliver and motivate.

However, it was not until 2011 that Drama was offered as a Standard Grade subject, thus leading to numerous pupils pursuing what was at first seen as another exam, as a personal hobby. Consequently, a drama group was established.

In previous times, we have put on numerous shows such as ‘Antigone’, a Burns’ night performance and a group participating in the National Festival of Youth Theatre held in the central belt.

For this production Support Manager, Connie Farrell, English teacher, Nic Stringer and Eden-Court’s Jonathan Davies, worked tirelessly behind the scenes of the successful performances by giving up a lot of the little free time they had. It is clear to see that the production was carefully crafted by their extensive knowledge of theatre and the arts.

Additionally, Nic Stringer contributed a great deal with his musical accompaniment on both nights.

Many of the audience had read Morpurgo’s novel, and were curious to see how the pupils would convey the story through acting. With little resources, the cast created trees and trenches through sound and movement, and this is regarded as a main highlight of the production. The pupils’ ‘exceptional’ use of improvisation when props were not possible is evident in proving that the standard of creativity within the school is very high.

The difficulty of acting out one character was made to look effortless by their ability to play a diverse range of characters. For example, one began by playing a young, kind primary school teacher and made her exit as a middle-aged, terrifying sergeant in the trenches of France. This demonstrates the amount of work the cast put into the production; the majority were learning lines for three or four parts.

It seemed only fitting to base the story of the production on The Great War, as this year is the one hundredth anniversary of its beginning. The fact that the dramatisation was based on real events (yet not necessarily real people) challenges individuals. Many of us would have had grandparents or great-grandparents who fought for King and country. At the time, they would have not been much older than our senior boys. After watching ‘Private Peaceful’, we are reminded of just one man’s cost. The fact that ten million people lost their lives in four years challenges us to never forget.

Kathyrn MacAskill S6

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