About COAL

“All of us owe the comparative decency to poor drudges underground, blackened to the eyes with their throats full of coal dust, driving their shovels forward with arms and belly muscles of steel”

Marking the 30th anniversary of the end of the 1984/85 British Miners’ strike, award winning choreographer Gary Clarke proudly presents COAL, a riveting dance theatre show which takes a nostalgic look at the hard hitting realities of life at the coal face.

Strong, powerful and emotive, COAL explores the darker underbelly of the mining industry unearthing the true nature and body wrecking demands of a working class industry now almost forgotten.

Bringing together Clarke’s striking physical language performed by a company of 7 stunning professional dancers, a local community cast of women and a live brass band, COAL is an emotional, moving and ever-relevant exploration of community, solidarity and survival.

It is based on years of personal research by Gary Clarke, including interviews with Anne Scargill, former wife of NUM president Arthur Scargill, and Betty Cook, the founders of Women Against Pit Closures.

“The COAL Autumn tour is dedicated to the survival and resilience of a man that understands what’s it’s like to fight for his life like many others. This man is my Dad” – Gary Clarke

Gary Clarke also spent time with Chris Skidmore of the National Union of Mineworkers, Bruce Wilson, author of Yorkshire’s Flying Pickets, Barnsley historian and author Brian Elliott and Paul Winter of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign.

COAL is a direct response to my upbringing in the working class mining village of Grimethorpe, South Yorkshire. It’s about trying to capture a time in British history that is too easily forgotten. It is an attempt at keeping the memories of the mining industry alive, an industry that I believe shaped the fabric of our society and how we live our lives today. These communities are at the heart of COAL.” Gary Clarke 2015.

Providing the distinctive voice of Margaret Thatcher is actor Steve Nallon, still best known for his many performances as the controversial Prime Minister in long-running cult TV satirical comedy hit Spitting Image.

Performers are pushed to physical and emotional extremes, with an evocative score of live brass classics organised by Musical Director Steven Roberts and a thunderous soundscape by Noise Artist Daniel Thomas.

Age Guidance 12+
Duration: 1 hour & 20 minutes

Co-commissioned by DanceXchange; Cast, Doncaster; The Place; Dance City; Dance4 with Nottingham Playhouse; The Civic Barnsley; Yorkshire Dance, with additional funds from, The National Lottery through Arts Council England, Individual Giving through kick-starter with support from The Northern School of Contemporary Dance and The National Union of Mineworkers.

A big thank you to COAL’s 2015 crowdfunding backers who helped make COAL possible: Paul Burns, Ruth McTighe, Margaret Taylor, Ken Johnson and Daniel Alonso Van Camp.

“COAL is a gritty, gusty, visceral re-enaction of toil that is part of living memory”

“One of the most powerful, moving pieces of theatre I've ever seen”

“An absorbing, immediate slice of history rendered with the kind of emotional truth that deepens its impact as popular entertainment.”

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