New season to celebrate coal battles

Production of COAL on stage
Production of COAL on stage

Barnsley’s Civic Theatre is continuing its celebration of the miners’ strike with three new shows.

Barnsley-born award-winning choreographer Gary Clarke reflects his own experience growing up in the Yorkshire coalfields with his dance theatre performance, COAL.

COAL 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.

Four Barnsley women will make their own contribution to the story as they join the company of dancers and musicians from the Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band for a remarkable live theatre tribute to the people living in the coalfields.

Gary said: “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.”

The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign will hold a fundraising event featuring a play and short documentary by local artists about the miners’ strike at the end of January.

Following his visit to last year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, local actor Danny Mellor offered to perform Undermined, a play inspired by the accounts of miners who lived through the strike, for the fundraising event.

His one-man show explores the humour and struggles of the strike through energetic and gripping storytelling, presenting a youthful and contemporary approach.

Following the play will be Judi Alston’s, With Banners Held High.

The short documentary film explores the resilience of miners and Women Against Pit Closures through their sense of humour, camaraderie and community spirit.

The following week, The Pitmen Poets celebrate the songs, humour, and culture of North East England’s coal mining tradition, bringing together four of the region’s leading champions of its musical heritage.

The show features ex-Lindisfarne singer and writer Billy Mitchell, Songman from London’s West End musical Warhorse Bob Fox, leading exponent of Tyneside song Benny Graham and songwriter Jez Lowe.

The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign is at The Civic on Saturday, January 23, The Pitmen Poets is at The Civic on Friday, January 29 and COAL is on February 19-20.

Box office: 01226 327000 or Barnsley Civic