The closure of the British coal industry did more than condemn a generation of workers to the waste heap. It triggered a reaction from the younger generation!
In the sequel to Gary Clarke’s production of Coal (which looked at the impact the miner’s strike had on society), he has turned his attention on the next generation. Those born into the mining families and most impacted by the enforced closure under Thatcher’s tyrannical regime.
Faced with home lives that were falling apart at every seam, they forged new communities, social groups that came together to forget, finding ways to escape from the harsh realities of home. Thus was born the rave culture of the 1990s.
Wasteland follows one man (The Last Miner, portrayed emotionally by Alistair Goldsmith) and his son (Rob Anderson, who expertly takes the audience on a journey of ups and downs) as they downward spiral through their trials and tribulations, the loss of the pit work, the removal of The Last Miner’s dignity & pride and the son’s struggles with his father. For the audience these are long, hard, gritty moments but essential in setting the scene for whats to follow. His son finds solace in a new era of music, his escapism being the cult rave scene that swept across the North of England in the mid 90’s, which was destroyed by the government outlawing these raves, citing them for drug and crime booms, and the raising of a delinquent generation.
The production is a contemporary dance masterclass in how you can use such an expressive style to bring home these messages. The choreographer and team have worked tirelessly to recapture the repetitive and mesmeric dance moves with a contemporary slant. The energy is unrelenting, the stamina of The Ravers shining through.
With clever use of video, photography and news reports of the times, you are transported back to the dark times; the casting of Pit Men Singers (local singers to each touring production) lamenting on their lives and Brass players reminding us of the heritage of the pits and the importance these groups played within the community. Every single member of the ensemble delivered their roles to perfection.
So who is this production for? Well it might not be everyone’s scene, but for anyone associated with the impact caused through the pit closures and had to deal with the aftermath of the situation, or to a generation of ravers and club goers then this show will have you tapping a foot or nodding a head as you try to keep pace with your youth!
3–4 March, Crewe Lyceum
19-20 March, Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling
27-28 March, Theatre Royal, York
3-4 April, The Mac, Belfast
22 April, Lighthouse, Poole
29 April, Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock
11 May, Leicester Curve
15-16 May, Eden Court Theatre, Inverness