Wasteland: Gary Clarke brings the party to Canterbury


Image courtesy of Wastelandtour.co.uk

Gary Clarke with his premiere of ‘Wasteland’ brought the party to Canterbury.

Watching it I feel like I just went to a rave. That's the power of theatre right? To transport you to the setting of the story its portraying.

‘Wasteland’ is the sequel to Clarke’s production of ‘COAL. ‘COAL’ looked at the 1984/5 British Miners’ Strike (an ancient industry to this current generation) and ‘Wasteland’ deals with the aftermath of the breakdown of the mining industry. Using this narrative, Gary Clarke created a remarkable piece of theatre taking two contrasting philosophies/lifestyles produced by the breakdown of the mining industry – devastation, leading to alcoholism and raving, leading to parties and dance. It was such a smart idea to portray the two attitudes in a piece of physical theatre, one that serves as inspiration for physical theatre makers and entertainment for those interested in dance.

The way alcoholism was portrayed through use of the body was almost eye-cringing given how real it felt. On the other hand, the use of hip hop and contemporary dance to express the concept of freeing yourself and having fun was absolutely genius and well suited as well. The cast would use repetition of everyday movement and rave dance vocabulary and the audio from the news excerpts, and translate this into physical performance movement and dance. The use of speech was limited, but that is the nature of physical theatre, a type of theatre that places an emphasis on the body rather than text. The use of voice and sound was included however, as the show featured grippling and eerie soundscapes and excellent live music from bass players and ‘The Pit Men Singers’.

The lack of dialogue within the play didn’t leave you with a void waiting to be filled by speech, as ‘Wasteland’ brilliantly used technology to help build the narrative. The show featured projected video clips of archived film footage and recorded sound from news reports to inform the audience about the background of the scene. The idea to make use of such technology and audio was an ideal creative marriage between the two as it just worked so well.

It was a wonderful piece of theatre that informs you about the history of the industries that have we youth are foreign to. It was an amazing watch!

Gary Clarke, well done.

Follow @garyclarkeco for more updates about the show and the company!

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