National Theatre of Scotland will be part of Pages of the Sea, Danny Boyle’s commission for 14-18 NOW to mark the centenary of Armistice Day. Today the public is invited to gather on beaches across the UK for an informal, nationwide gesture of remembrance for the men and women who left their home shores during the First World War.
Millions of people served in the First World War and many left by sea. National Theatre of Scotland will be leading events at five beaches across Scotland including St Andrews West Sands, Ayr and in Orkney on Sunday 11 November.
Each event centres around the drawing of a large-scale portrait of a casualty from the First World War, designed by sand artists Sand In Your Eye, which will be washed away as the tide comes in. In addition, the public will be asked to join in by creating silhouettes of people in the sand, remembering the millions of lives lost or changed forever by the conflict.
Poet Carol Ann Duffy has been invited by Boyle to write a new poem, which will be read by individuals, families and communities as they gather on beaches on 11 November. Copies of the poem will be available at the beaches around the UK for those who wish to come together or to offer their own personal contribution.
Danny Boyle said: “Beaches are truly public spaces, where nobody rules other than the tide. They seem the perfect place to gather and say a final goodbye and thank you to those whose lives were taken or forever changed by the First World War. I’m inviting people to watch as the faces of the fallen are etched in the sand, and for communities to come together to remember the sacrifices that were made.”
The public is also invited to explore an online gallery of portraits of some of the men and women who served in the First World War, and select someone to say a personal goodbye to either via social media or as they gather in person on beaches on 11 November. The images are drawn from the Imperial War Museum’s ‘Lives of the First World War’ which aims to tell 8 million stories of those who served from Britain and the Commonwealth. Visitors to the website can also add portraits of members of their family or community who contributed to the First World War.
Jackie Wylie, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of National Theatre of Scotland, said: “The First World War had a devastating impact on Scotland, with tens of thousands of young lives lost and many more forever altered. Our nation has an enduring and emotive connection to the sea and our beautiful coastline has seen many come and go throughout history. Pages of the Sea will create an artistic tribute, both personal and communal, through art, words, pictures and stories, acknowledging all those who left our shores during WW1. As a theatre without walls, the National Theatre of Scotland welcomes this poignant opportunity to help bring communities together in this fitting act of remembrance”
Jenny Waldman, Director of 14-18 NOW, said: “Danny Boyle has created a beautiful, poetic artwork that invites people across the UK to participate in a new nationwide gesture of remembrance on the centenary of Armistice Day. It is a fitting farewell to all of those who served and were affected by the First World War. I would like to thank Danny Boyle, Carol Ann Duffy and all our partners and funders for their help in realising this ambitious project.”
The work is commissioned and produced by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary, and delivered with partner organisations across the UK: National Trust; Activate Performing Arts; Creative Foundation; Eden Project; National Theatre Scotland; Nerve Centre; Swansea City Council and Sunderland Culture.
You can see which beaches are taking part by visiting www.pagesofthesea.org.uk