National Theatre of Scotland in partnership with South Ayrshire Council, North Ayrshire Council, East Ayrshire Council and Ayr Gaiety announces Ayr Beach as one of the 6 locations in Scotland taking part in Danny Boyle's Armistice Day commission for 14-18 NOW which marks the centenary of the end of the First World War.
On 11 November 2018, the public is invited to gather on Ayr Beach 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 leads events at six beaches across Scotland including St Ninian's Isle beach, Ayr Beach, Scapa beach in Orkney, St Andrews' West Sands, Burghead Bay beach (exact location TBC) and Cula Bay on the isle of Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides.
Each event centres around the drawing of a large-scale portrait of a casualty from the First World War with a connection to the local community. The portrait will be designed by sand artists Sand In Your Eye and 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. Please note the scale of the sand art is weather-dependant.
Scottish poet Carol Ann Duffy has been invited by Danny Boyle to write a new poem, which will be read by individuals, families and communities as they gather on Ayr Beach and beaches across the UK and Republic of Ireland on 11 November. Copies of the poem will be available at the beaches for those who wish to come together or to offer their own personal contribution.
Local communities are encouraged to take part in a workshop ahead of the event: Sunday, 4th November from 2pm until 3.30pm in the Main Hall of Ayr Town Hall on New Bridge Street. During the workshop led by a representative from the local community, public will learn details on how they can become a part of the single biggest event in the UK on Armistice Day. There will be an opportunity to listen to and share stories of local heroes who fell or returned; worked the land or tended to the sick during the great war as well as exploring war-time poetry. Those interested in attending the workshop in Ayr Town Hall are required to register via this link.
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. We would like to thank our partners, Ayr Gaiety, South Ayrshire Council, North Ayrshire Council and East Ayrshire Council, for their invaluable support of this special project."
South Ayrshire Provost and Veterans' Champion, Councillor Helen Moonie, said: "The 14-18 NOW Pages of the Sea commemoration on Ayr beach will be a moving and stunning tribute to the people and places of Ayrshire as we mark the centenary of the end of the First World War. Ayr beach will provide the perfect backdrop for individuals, families, friends and communities to come together and remember all those who gave their lives not just in this conflict, but on many battlefields since.
"I know the people of Ayrshire will get behind this project, take part in the workshops and come along to the beach on 11 November to show that we will never forget and that the sacrifices made for us will stay in our hearts and minds forever."
North Ayrshire Provost Ian Clarkson, who is also North Ayrshire's Veterans' Champion, said: "It's vital we keep the memories alive of those who made the ultimate sacrifice and ensure that the next generation is able to understand and reflect on the events of 100 years ago.
"Alongside our colleagues from across Ayrshire and further afield, we are pleased to be playing a part in such a poignant yet innovative way of ensuring their selfless actions will continue to live on."
Provost Jim Todd, East Ayrshire Veteran Champion said: "Pages by the Sea is a wonderful collaborative, creative initiative, which will give local families an opportunity to remember and reflect on the many, many lives lost during WW1.
"We are delighted to be working with our neighbouring authorities to support this; Ayrshire is blessed with stunning scenery and beautiful landmarks and it is fitting that this part of Scotland's coastline has been chosen as a location for this event."
Jeremy Wyatt, Chief Executive of Ayr Gaiety, said: "We are honoured to be collaborating on National Theatre of Scotland's Pages of the Sea. We are committed to delivering a range of high-quality creative projects within communities across South Ayrshire and are pleased to be partnering with the National Theatre of Scotland on this commemorative project. We hope to inspire people of all ages to participate in this nationwide remembrance for the men and women who left their home shores during the First World War."
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.
Supported by The National Lottery and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. With additional support from Backstage Trust, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch) and National Rail.
The project is the latest collaboration between the National Theatre of Scotland and 14-18 NOW. It follows the success of previous nationwide participatory projects We're here because we're here, with artist Jeremy Deller in 2016 marking the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, and PROCESSIONS earlier this year, which in Scotland saw thousands of women take to the streets of Edinburgh in a colourful march to celebrate the centenary of votes for women. 14-18 NOW also collaborated on the powerful The 306 trilogy, the final part of which, The 306: Dusk, premieres in Perth later this month.
Further information can be found at www.pagesofthesea.org.uk.