Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller will visit The Playhouse for an exhibition this month.
Presented by 14-18 NOW and the National Theatre, the exhibition runs from Thursday 7 to Wednesday 27 September and tells the story of contemporary memorial ‘We're here because we're here'.
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 commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK's arts programme for the First World War Centenary commemorations.
‘We're here because we're here' took place on 1 July 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 July 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 soldier they represented, and, where known, the age of the soldier when he died on 1 July 1916.
The exhibition on display this month in The Playhouse plaza tells the story of the project through images of the volunteers from across the UK. Jeremy Deller will visit The Playhouse for the exhibition closing event on Monday 25 September from 6pm - 8pm. During this event Jeremy will discuss this artwork and he will contextualise it within his art practice. The closing event is free, and open to everyone.
The Playhouse 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.
Niall McCaughan, CEO of The Playhouse said: "This was a truly extraordinary project- one that touched thousands of lives. People experienced in a very real way the tragedy of war, the human face of the young men who were sent into battle, and the power of art as a means of telling a national story. It was an absolute honour to collaborate in such a work."
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."
The ‘We're here because we're here' exhibition will run at The Playhouse until Wednesday 27 September 2017. Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller will also visit The Playhouse for a Q&A at the exhibition closing event on Monday 25 September from 6pm - 8pm. The closing event is free, and open to everyone.
‘We're here because we're here'
The story of Jeremy Deller's Modern Memorial
Thursday 7 to Wednesday 27 September 2017
'We're here because we're here' was commissioned by 14-18 NOW, and conceived and 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 was produced by Birmingham Repertory Theatre and the National Theatre, working in close collaboration with partners including: Lyric Theatre Belfast, National Theatre of Scotland, National Theatre Wales, Northern Stage, Playhouse Derry-Londonderry, Salisbury Playhouse, Sheffield Theatres and Theatre Royal Plymouth.
The project was supported by: Aberystwyth Arts Centre, The Belgrade Theatre, Birmingham Metropolitan Academy of Performing Arts, Bolton Octagon, Bristol Old Vic, Storyhouse, Left Coast, Leicester Curve, Nuffield Theatre, Oldham Coliseum, Pontio, Shetland Arts, Sutton Coldfield College, The Garrick Lichfield and Volcano.
‘We're here because we're here' was made possible by an Ambition for Excellence Award from Arts Council England and by the Heritage Lottery Fund, with additional support from Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Creative Scotland and Art Fund. 14-18 NOW is principally funded by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England, and by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
Images presented in the show are taken by the public. Images are courtesy of the artist. Professional images courtesy of Mark Carline, Joel Chester Fildes, Eoin Carey, Mark Douet, Andrew Fox, Johnny Frazer, Adrian Harris, Steve Haywood, Robyn Hayes, Ruth Knowles, Ellie Kurttz, Dimitris Legakis, Luke MacGregor, Topher McGrillis, Iolo Penri, Joe Priestley, Paul Riddell.
14-18 NOW is a programme of extraordinary arts experiences connecting people with the First World War, as part of the UK's official centenary commemorations. It commissions new work by leading contemporary artists from all art forms. The commemorative period is marked by three key seasons - Anniversary of the Declaration of War in 2014, the anniversary of the Battle of Jutland and the Battle of the Somme in 2016, and the centenary of Armistice Day in 2018. 14-18 NOW is responsible for the UK tour of the iconic poppy sculptures by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper, and ‘We're here because we're here' by Jeremy Deller in collaboration with Rufus Norris.
14 -18 NOW is supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England, by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and by additional fundraising. 14-18 NOW has commissioned over 140 artworks to date that have been seen by more than 30 million people.
 Based on 63% of the British adult population (aged 18+) in a YouGov survey who indicated that they were aware of the soldiers. Calculation by Morris Hargreaves McIntyre / 14-18 NOW.