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Curve tells the story of the contemporary memorial We’re here because we’re here, with an exhibition presented by 14 – 18 NOW and the National Theatre, until Sat 6 May.
We’re here because we’re here took place on 1 Jul 2016 when more than 1400 voluntary participants in First World War uniform appeared unexpectedly in locations across the UK. The participants were a reminder of the 19,240 men who were killed on 1 Jul 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Each participant represented an individual soldier who was killed on that day.
The soldiers, dressed in historically accurate uniforms, did not speak, but at points throughout the day would sing the song We’re Here Because We’re Here, which was sung in the trenches during the First World War. They handed out cards to members of the public with the name and regiment of the solider they represented, and, where known, the age of the soldier when he died on 1 July 1916.
Created by Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller in collaboration with Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre, We’re here because we’re here reached over 30 million people across the UK. The work was specially commissioned by 14 – 18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War Centenary commemorations.
The exhibition will tell the story of the project through images of the volunteers from across the UK and the BBC documentary charting the making of the project.
Curve was one of 26 organisations that collaborated on the project. This was the first time so many theatres have worked together on a UK-wide participation project, making it the largest arts participation project ever staged in the country.
In a joint statement Curve Chief Executive Chris Stafford and Curve Artistic Director Nikolai Foster said: “It was important for us to be part of the We’re here because were here event, commemorating the sacrifice made by many millions of men and women from across the Commonwealth, during the Great War. Jeremy Deller’s beautiful vision was a fitting tribute during the centenary commemoration and it’s gratifying to see the work live on in the exhibition now at Curve.”
Jenny Waldman, Director of 14-18 NOW, said: “For the centenary of the Somme, Jeremy Deller, Rufus Norris, 26 theatres and over 1400 volunteers, created an exceptional and powerful live memorial We’re here because we’re here. Both unexpected and warmly embraced by millions of people, the ‘silent soldiers’ made an impact across the UK. This exhibition is a wonderful way to remember the ambitious work and tell the story of how it came together.”
Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre, said: “This work by Jeremy Deller was a truly national piece of theatre and a powerful way to remember the men who went off to fight 100 years ago. I also hope it will serve as a catalyst to strengthen ties with theatres and communities across the UK.”