Wasteland is coming to Glasgow's Tramway Theatre (Photo: Joe Armitage)
Wasteland is coming to Glasgow's Tramway Theatre (Photo: Joe Armitage)

Gritty play Wasteland set for Scottish premiere

A theatrical production marking the collapse of industrial Britain is coming to Glasgow.

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.

The show has its Scottish premiere at Glasgow Tramway on June 14 and 15.

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.

Gary said: ‘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.

Wasteland is coming to Glasgow’s Tramway Theatre (Photo: Joe Armitage)

Also on stage will be two brass musicians, specially selected for every venue from the 14 championship brass bands who made such a vital and important contribution to the success of COAL.

Gary added: ‘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.

He said: ‘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.’

Later the Smiley Riot Shields art work was seen to enormous acclaim in fellow artist Banksy’s Dismaland and Wasteland will be another opportunity to see these iconic pieces in action.

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.

Wasteland is co-commissioned by Nottingham Playhouse, Tramway, Cast, Dance4, The Place, DanceXchange, Gulbenkian/ART 31, Contact Theatre, Grand Theatre Blackpool, Civic Barnsley, Yorkshire Dance, with additional support from Lawrence Batley Theatre, Northern Ballet, Leeds Dance Partnership, Stirling Pit Women and public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England

It will be at the Glasgow Tramway, at 7.30pm, on June 14 and 15. For tickets visit www.tramway.org. Recommended age – 14 and upwards

Find out more about the production at Wastelandtour.co.uk