Peter Becker is playing Fredrich in War Horse currently at the Mayflower Theatre, in Southampton from the 16th May to 9th June. I’m so humbled to have been given the opportunity to interview Peter on an overcast summers day.
Dressed in his War Horse costume, a World War 1 German Uniform, Peter looked statuesque and comfortable in his costume. I was greeted with a beaming smile and a firm handshake.
We interviewed in the Mayflower’s bar, in deep red velvet chairs, by big sash window. Peter not looking out of place against the decor. We quickly established our mutual connection, Germany, of course.
Peter spoke openly about his hometown and how he was influenced by theatre at a young age. His childhood home has one of the largest open-air theatres. Throngs of people descended on the town to visit each year and naturally drew Peter there too. Peter has worked on countless German plays, tv shows and movies and is currently in some UK shows, that will be aired soon. You would have seen Peter in Babylon Berlin and Der Untergang der Pamir (The sinking of the Pamir)
Peter is the first German person to play the role of Fredrich in War Horse. The weight of such a position was not lost on Peter. He felt that there is such little remembered of the German soldiers that to highlight their role in the war was important to document with integrity and dignity. ‘Giving a voice to the German soldiers’ to decipher what ‘unites them not separates them’. Of course what unites them is Joey and on some level Tophorn. A play that is really Europian a communal acknowledgement of the First World War.
Speaking about the connection Peter had with the Joey was really astounding. Peter improvised with the puppeteers two weeks before production. Uniquely Peter improvised in German with the puppet. Joey responded to the German commands with lit Peter’s eyes on recollection. Peter had’ always wanted’ to be in War Horse ever since seeing it in London.
Finally to conclude I asked Peter what memento he would take with him, from the experience. I was thinking what answer I would give if the roles were reversed. I would take part of my uniform, or Joey. Peter laughed when I suggested Joey. ‘I wouldn’t be able to see the TV, he’d fit on my balcony though, there are a few trees he can nibble on’. After a moments thought Peter settled on a photograph of his wife and daughter. In the play Fredrich is missing a daughter he’s not seen in years. The stanislavski method of acting, if my A-level drama knowledge is what it used to be.
If you have the opportunity to see War Horse in the Mayflower or anywhere on tour please do. It’s such an important play to see, beautiful puppetry, incredible story and visible dedication and skill from everyone.
Thank you, Peter Becker, for the opportunity to talk to and interview you. To the Mayflower Theatre for making this interview happen.