Max Reiter (U6) and Charlie Allison (U6) joined around 1400 volunteers in the memorial performance ‘We’re here because we’re here’, a modern memorial to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. The idea was conceived and created by Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller with Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre. It was produced by Birmingham Repertory Theatre and the National Theatre, in collaboration with 26 organisations. Their work featured on TV screens this weekend as part of a documentary made by BBC 4.
Max joined rehearsals in London and Charlie took part in Newcastle. Each participant represented an individual soldier who was killed on that day one hundred years before. The ‘soldiers’ or ‘ghosts’ as the public quickly named them, silently handed cards topassers-by, each bearing the name of a soldier who died at the Somme on 1st July 1916. They remained silent and in character for roughly nine hours. They were not allowed to talk or communicate with the public, but instead connected to them through eye contact.
The Battle of the Somme was the largest battle of the First World War and intended to hasten victory for the Allies. It took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916. More than one million men were wounded or killed, 19,240 died on the first day alone making it the bloodiest day in British military history.
The BBC4 documentary was shown on Sunday 13 November and can still be viewed online on the BBC iplayer website (www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b083bk7n/jeremy-deller-were-here-because-were-here).
Gareth Warburton, Head of Performing Arts, said ‘The boys should be very proud of themselves for volunteering to take part in this live memorial. Not only was it great experience for them, but it enabled people across the country to empathise with the population of Britain 100 years ago in a new and highly effective way.’