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Gary Clarke Company ‘Coal’

Back in the 1980s there was a period of trouble and lots of it when the Conservative government of the day, led by one Margaret Thatcher, decided that coal mining was an industry in need of some serious meddling, along with the unions that handled the miners who worked in the pits (as they were often called in the UK) themselves.

Mrs Thatcher is dead and gone as are the coal mines that were the source of great upheaval and violence during the strikes in 1984 and 1985. Dance maker Gary Clarke, who grew up in a mining village, has made a piece of work about that period of UK history entitled, not at all unsurprisingly, ‘Coal’.

The company say this much about the work;

“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.

For our feature we bring you an interview with Gary Clark along with footage from the show. ‘Coal’ is set to continue touring throughout the year and you can check the show specific website below for more details.

‘Coal’ is performed by Joss Carter, James Finnemore, Alistair Goldsmith, Tc Howard, Eleanor Perry, Connor Quill, Nicholas Vendange, Joseph Ray Reid Carole Ann Nixon, Jaene Davies, Caroline Dean & Liz-Anne Worrall.

Filmed at The Dance Lab in newcastle upon Tyne on April 30th 2016.