In 1994, the European Study of Deprivation named my home village of Grimethorpe as one of the poorest villages in Europe. As poverty and depression shattered through the village, the future looked bleak for my generation. The birth of the rave culture gave many of us the opportunity to escape these grim and grey realities and into a new world of expressive music and hard core dance. WASTELAND is my attempt at recapturing this pivotal time in British history when industrial Britain fell and a new sub culture emerged. I owe my passion for movement and dance to this time and the people who lived it.
Gary Clarke's Wasteland... The thrilling sequel to Coal
As industrial Britain fell, a new subculture emerged...
They fought for their families, their livelihoods, their communities, their futures and for an industry…but what happened to the families who survived the epic year-long battle of the Miners’ Strike of 1984/85?
Created to mark the 25th anniversary of the demolition of Grimethorpe Colliery in South Yorkshire and 30 years since the rise of UK rave culture, acclaimed choreographer Gary Clarke proudly presents Wasteland, a thrilling yet deeply touching dance theatre production and the eagerly-awaited sequel to Clarke’s multi-award winning hit COAL.
In 1994, Gary Clarke joined family, friends and neighbours to witness the downfall of Grimethorpe Colliery, an act of ruination that not only marked another nail in the coffin of Britain’s mining industry but also added to the destruction of the working class community that surrounded it.
Wasteland looks at how two different generations coped in this turbulent era of radical upheaval as industrial Britain fell and a new subculture emerged.
As one generation grinds exhaustedly to a halt, the next generation heads into the illegal rave scene of 1990s Britain, where derelict warehouses and abandoned work spaces become home for a new community of music and dance.
“For our generation, the future was very bleak with very little prospect. The rave culture gave many of us the opportunity to escape these grim and grey realities and into a new world of music and dance where we could express our inner feelings, desires and frustrations. My passion for dance grew from this discovery”
Wasteland is based on Gary’s own experience of reaching maturity at the height of the rave movement and also on many hours of interviews with former miners and with people who, like him, found escape through rave’s music and alternative sub culture.
It brings together Clarke’s blistering physical dance language performed by a company of exceptional dancers – headed by COAL’s lead dancer Alistair Goldsmith – and a community cast of four male singers, a total of 76 men throughout the tour of 18 venues nationally in 2019/20.
Also on stage will be two brass musicians, specially selected for every venue from the 14 championship brass bands that made such a vital and important contribution to the success of COAL.
“Like COAL, communities are at the heart of Wasteland and it felt wrong to make a new show about communities without involving them."
Rare archive film footage brings the era to life – capturing both the tragedy of mining’s last days and the exhilaration of rave’s roots – along with a powerful rave sound score by Charles Webber and unique art work by Jimmy Cauty, co-founder of The KLF.
Jimmy Cauty’s appropriated police riot shields were first created for the Occupy St Pauls eviction in 2012. Later the Smiley Riot Shields artwork was seen to enormous acclaim in fellow artist Banksy’s Dismaland and Wasteland will be another opportunity to see these iconic pieces in action.
“It’s not an offence to own a Jimmy Cauty Smiley Riot Shield but it may be an offence to use the artwork in a riot.”
Bringing all this together into one unforgettable and compelling night of dance theatre, Wasteland dives head first into a hedonistic story of loss, hope, escapism and survival.
“To get anything that you need and anything that you believe in, it’s got to be worth fighting for - if it isn’t worth fighting for it isn’t worth doing.”
Wasteland brings together once more the production and creative team that made COAL such a major hit with both critics and audiences.
The producer of Wasteland is Gary Clarke’s long time mentor and collaborator Annabel Dunbar.
The Lighting Designer is Charles Webber, who has also created an original rave sound score and video for the show.
Dramaturgy is by Lou Cope, with costumes and set by designer Ryan Dawson Laight and other sound design by Daniel Thomas.
Creative Director Gary Hartley Farrar from the acclaimed Jon Kinsey Salon in Leeds will be cutting, styling and colouring the hair of the professional cast.
Musical Direction is once again by Steven Roberts, bringing outstanding community singers and brass musicians to the stage at each venue.
Gary Clarke Company dancers are: Alistair Goldsmith, Tom Davis Dunn, Robert Anderson, Emily Thompson Smith, Elena Thomas Voilquin and Jake Evans.
Running time 80 minutes with no interval
Age suitability 14+ (Schools Guidance)
Contains some strobe lighting, loud music and smoke effects