The Loudest Whisper (March 2015)

On Friday 13 and Saturday 14 March, The Loudest Whisper united people from across the Borough as they took part in the worlds largest ever game of Chinese Whispers.

As the whisper travelled across Stockton-on-Tees, we showed the rest of the UK that Stockton-on-Tees has MANY voices. And that sometimes the quietest ones can be the most powerful!

We have this message for the people of Stockton-on-Tees – Thank you! You’re resilient, resourceful and downright blooming remarkable!

We are thrilled to share a very special film to show the highlights of those two extraordinary days.

Oh and of course revealing what that whispered message actually was all along:

“THIS is Stockton-on-Tees!”

 A message from Mike McGrother

Hello! Want to know what the message – the whisper was all about?

The whole point of the last 2 days was to remind people about message communication. We live in a world where TV and media provide people with instant snapshots of society – ‘reality tv’. BUT we also know that the old adage ‘the camera never lies’ is, quite simply not true. We have to balance the right of freedom of speech with an understanding and awakening that what we are presented with will be an edited – manipulated version of what was actually said. This can be done positively and for good – or it can alienate and demonise the people involved. We saw this at its harshest in the first series of Benefits Street made by Love Productions. And so #theloudestwhisper serves to remind us that what is said can become muddled as it goes through a process.

Secondly, we accept that Love Productions have the right to film wherever they want. They claim that they are giving a voice to a specific section of society and have chosen Tilery as an appropriate location for their next series. They say that they will represent that area as a piece of ‘factual entertainment’ and give the people there a voice. BUT – despite us visiting their offices; despite the fact that they watched our Great British Take Off film advertising #theloudestwhisper and despite the fact that they are not broadcasting until May, they have been notable by their absence from the media cavalcade that has followed the whisper. We even focused the first two hours in Tilery – and provided HUNDREDS of voices for them to capture – but they chose not to come. Why?

Which brings us to that word – CHOICE – and our whisper. We have chosen to counterbalance the potential negativity associated with Benefits Street by doing things in a lovelier way. WE have passed a message but have chosen to do it gently – quietly. WE have captured the process in film – using mobile phones and volunteers and created the film you can now see. WE have shown that a community can be given a voice and can come together for a common good – not a divisive bad. And finally, WE have adopted the ethos of message and image manipulation – as Love Productions have such reputation for doing by CHOOSING to manipulate our game and constantly reiterate, reintroduce and remind everyone who WE are. A lovelier manipulation.

And so our original message THIS IS STOCKTON-ON-TEES remained the message for the entire game. It wasn’t just in the speaking of the words – it was in the symbolism of those mischievous clowns all along – because clowns have been used throughout history to point out the rights and potential wrongs of our society; it was in the diverse and beautiful and creative route that hosted the words but – more importantly than anything, the message was seen in the way that we played our game – in the efforts, the smiles and the hearts and minds of every single participant. THIS is Stockton-on-Tees – remember that when we are portrayed differently in May. And remember WE are a lovelier production.

“THIS is Stockton-on-Tees!”

This edit of the film was created by students at Cleveland College of Art & Design (CCAD).


“More from our LOVELIER clowns”

A short edited film featuring Amy, Kelly and Sam (our clowns) and some of their thoughts about those two extraordinary days of The Loudest Whisper.