HONOURING the Centenary of the Somme, SINGING ‘WE’re here because we’re here’
World War One Arts Organisation 14-18 NOW and artist Jeremy Deller wanted to create a breathtaking public art performance to commemorate the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme. Soldiers, as if back from the war, would silently roam the streets, and we were commissioned to capture the drama live.
So to mark the bloodiest day in British military history, the day a hundred years ago when generals sent 100,000 troops over the top and 57,470 of them were mown down for only three square miles of territory; 2,000 actors in the UK donned full World War One battle dress and took to the streets across the country. They wandered along streets, through shopping centres, took trains, waited at bus stops, sat smoking, eating, staring. Waiting and shell-shocked. Each represented a soldier killed that day at the Somme. Each carried a card with the fallen man’s name on. None were allowed to speak. They handed their cards out in silence to curious members of the public, as our crews across the country captured the live art and pushed it out in real-time to social and TV news channels.
‘We’re Here’ remains one of the most talked about centennial commemorations with 63% of the UK adult population aware of the event. The Twitter hashtag trended for over 14 hours, with 100,000 posts worldwide and 220 million page impressions on the website. Over 30 million people experienced it via the media, and another 2 million people saw it live; with thousands brought to tears as they watched the soldiers of the Somme break their silence to sing ‘We’re Here Because We’re Here’…one last time.