Professional and volunteer actors appeared over a hot July weekend in Wimborne town centre, dressed in First World War uniforms and each representing ten local men killed in action during the Great War.
When approached as they walked about the town, the actors silently handed out a small card with personal details, researched with local historian and Town Crier, Chris Brown, about the soldiers represented.
People encountered them in many different places from the town square, recreation ground, market, back alleys, supermarkets, in the Salvation Army café, and on the Minster Green.
Occasionally, the soldiers seemed spontaneously to march in circles, and at other times sang a verse from a popular ‘nonsense’ song of the Great War: ‘We’re Here because we’re here because we’re here because we’re here’, followed by a loud and prolonged shout.
Wimborne History Festival (funded by HLF) commissioned State of Play Arts to produce Wimborne’s Silent Soldier Project which was inspired by the memorial project ‘we’re here because we’re here‘ by Jeremy Deller and Rufus Norris. Read more here. .
You can see a list of the soldiers here. . .
What people said:
- The production was superbly directed and executed by the State of Play team, and we are thrilled at the impact and response these young men made in our community. It was moving, thought provoking and very poignant as Britain commemorates 100 years since the end of WW1. Thank you to all those who were involved in this brilliant theatre and heritage production. Chair Wimborne History Festival
- ‘We fought for the likes of you lads and you were worth it”.
- The production of the Silent Soldiers was powerful and poignant and will ensure these brave young men will not be forgotten.
- Silent soldiers was an amazing part of the festival. Well done on the excellent research and a BIG “shout out” to the guys who represented those who did not come home.
- Very poignant, really moving to see them walking around and to read their cards.
- .. . those soldiers really made you think
Director, Tony Horitz:
People were visibly moved by the presence of the soldiers particularly the silence of the soldiers, the singing of ‘We’re Here because we’re here…’ and the shout afterwards which they said was powerful and thought-provoking.
One of the most interesting encounters was in the Recreation Ground. several teenage lads started to shout and jeer when they saw the soldiers, one lad – of dual heritage – shouted: ‘You won’t let me join the army, will you? ‘Cos I’m black’
One or two of the ‘representers’ walked over to the lads and gave out their cards. More banter followed. The silent soldiers went and did some of the marching in circles leading to the tableaux, song and shout. The lads shouted back. But then I heard some of them telling others to be more ‘respectful’. I walked over to them and discussed the concept behind the project. Surprisingly, they listened in complete silence, with full eye contact. As soon as I’d finished, they said how great they thought it was – even the dual heritage lad.
Later I discussed the encounter with the actors – some of them had been quite wound up by it – I asked them if they’d like to go back the next day and one said: “Yes, but can we take some proper guns!”! I think he was joking.
The focus and commitment of the actors in preparation for the project and during the long hot weekend was exemplary.
Photo credits: Gill Horitz, ADW Photography