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Preview: Coal at Durham Gala Theatre

COAL - the true story of an industry and a community’s fight for survival

Durham Gala Theatre
Thursday 10th & Friday 11th November 2016

The drama, the tragedy and the unbreakable spirit of a working class community fighting for its future comes to the Gala Theatre, Durham as Gary Clarke Company presents Coal.

Photo: Joe Armitage
Coal commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Miners’ Strike and reflects award-winning choreographer and dancer Gary Clarke’s own experience of growing up in the Yorkshire coalfields.

Coal is a riveting dance theatre show that takes a nostalgic but honest look at the hard hitting realities of life at the coal face, the back breaking physical graft and the impact it makes on body and soul, both underground and on the surface.

Photo: Joe Armitage
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 completely forgotten.

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.

Photo: Joe Armitage
He also spent time with Chris Skidmoreof 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.

Photo: Joe Armitage
Coal, which has received a Strategic Touring Grant from Arts Council England, now embarks on a national tour featuring 16 performers - seven professional contemporary dancers including TC Howard (acclaimed for her work with Vincent Dance Theatre and Wendy Houstoun), a live on stage brass quintet playing music originally devised for the internationally acclaimed Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band and four local community women, specially recruited at every venue.

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 Robertsand a thunderous soundscape by Noise Artist Daniel Thomas.

Dramaturgy is by Lou Cope (well known for her work with award winning performers like Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui), with costumes and set by nationally acclaimed designer Ryan Dawson Laight and lighting by Charles Webber.

Coal combines Gary Clarke’s vivid visual performance style and splintering physical language as it marks the 30th anniversary of the turbulent end of the Miners’ Strike.

Early responses to Coal
“Gritty and gutsy.” Metro
“One of the most exhilarating and moving experiences I have had for some time …” Victoria Firth, Director, Lawrence Batley Theatre
"Fabulous, politically spot on." Julia Armstrong, The Sheffield Star
“It was a privilege to be in the audience and hear and see the effect the piece had…” Ian Morley, Barnsley Civic Theatre
Coalis co-commissioned by DanceXchange, Cast Doncaster, The Place, Dance City, Dance4 with Nottingham Playhouse, The Civic Barnsley and Yorkshire Dance with additional funds from The National Lotterythrough Arts Council England, Individual Giving through kick-starter with support from The Northern School of Contemporary Danceand The NUM.
Gary Clarke Company dancers are: TC Howard, James Finnemore, Alistair Goldsmith, Nicolas Vendange, Joss Carter, Connor Quill and Eleanor Perry
Suitable for age 12 and upwards
On The Web:
Tickets available priced £12 - £15 online at  or by calling the Gala Theatre Box Office on 03000 266 600

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