Wasteland – at Northern Stage


Wasteland – Britain in the 90’s

Wasteland is an unrelenting emotional onslaught. Set in North East after all the pits have closed – a bleak workless future  becomes a reality for many. The rave culture evolves and provides an escape from the seemingly hopeless future. Our Northern Stage continues its reputation for strong and innovative programming.

Created to mark the 25th Anniversary since the demolition of Grimethorpe colliery and 30 years since the rise of UK rave culture, Wasteland is the new dance show from Gary Clarke. It is also a sequel to his award winning production COAL.

Wasteland – the rise of the rave


Britain was in the grip of poverty and depression. The birth of the rave culture gave young people the chance to escape from this into a world of oblivion. A world of repetitive hard core dance music. It expressed how people were feeling and gave them an outlet for their boredom and frustration in a difficult environment .

The ex miner is hunched in front of the TV –hopeless and drinking himself into oblivion. His son is frustrated with his father, anger bubbles to the surface. Conflict ensues.


This is a multi media production and we see video clips of the pit head being demolished and later of police raiding the illegal raves. Members of the local community (these are different men at every venue) sing Pitmen songs charting the miner’s grief at the death of their community and their jobs.  Brass musicians bring the haunting refrains of the colliery bands, so associated with the northern pit villages. This  approach catapults a strong narrative into the contemporary dance choreography.


Wasteland – a surge of sheer energy

The dancers are exceptional – their energy is awe inspiring. We are drawn into a forty minute rave sequence (at least it felt that long) which is quite extraordinary.

The son, Reece, heads out into the underworld of illegal raves, meeting in derelict warehouses and empty industrial spaces. This musical sub culture becomes a refuge for the disenchanted and disenfranchised.

Lead dancer Alistair Goldsmith takes the role of the last miner, when his son suffers a heart attack from the drugs he’s been taking there is a very moving pas de deux with his own son’s dead body.

Music may turn their despair into euphoria but this does not last. Wasteland does not romantise the rave culture but presents it a s a part of our social history. Be prepared for tribal primeval rhythmic relentless beats. This is not a subtle piece. It hits you over the head with a very heavy hammer. wasteland is on tours around the UK now. Check out dates here 


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