WASTELAND: Meet the Pit Men

Less than a month until Gary Clarke's WASTELAND  is here. Back in November, we did a call-out for four singers to play the roles of 'Pit Men'. Find out more about the chosen four including their links to the mining industry.

In 1994 hundreds of coal miners hung up their pit boots as Grimethorpe Colliery was destroyed. Created to mark the 25th anniversary since the demolition and 30 years since the rise of UK rave culture, WASTELAND  is the highly anticipated new dance theatre show from acclaimed British choreographer Gary Clarke.

Phil Green - Pit Men singer 1

Phil Green

Tell us a bit about yourself...

I was brought up in the mining village of Sharlston in West Yorkshire. Both my grandads were miners as were all my uncles. Many of my older cousins worked on the surface or were in mining related industries. I have been an active trade unionist all my working life.

As a civil servant I was the CPSA (now PSU) branch secretary for East London (covering Hackney, Shoreditch, Waltham Forest and Barking) and branch committee member and rep in South Yorskhire (based in Goldthorpe - not far from Grimethorpe!) I have also been a branch committee member of UCU in a large Further Education college.

What singing experience do you have?

I have sung in a duo and as part of an acapella group.

Paul Johnstone - Pit Men Singer 2

Paul Johnstone

Tell us a bit about yourself...

I grew up working class in Dumfries and this has informed my wider politics and life choices. I'm passionate about ending the working class struggle that still goes on today.

My wife's father and grandfather were miners near Edinburgh, so I've been around and part of mining communities for many years.

Do you have any singing experience?

Yes - I have been in lots of bands and community singing groups since the age of 18. I currently sing and play guitar in the Rain Dogs.

Rob Morton - Pit Men Singer 3

Rob Morton

Tell us a bit about yourself...

I come from a working class background. My Dad was the eldest of 9 kids born and brought up in a two up, two down in Leicester. His Dad was a bricklayer. My other grandad, also from Leicester, was a butcher who survived all of WW2 in the cavalry...just imagine.

I got a musical (choral) scholarship to a posh school, which I largely hated, but where I loved the music. In the late 80’s and 90’s I worked as a social worker (mainly in mental health) and worked with many families in mining communities affected directly by the devastation wreaked by Thatcher. 

Do you have any singing experience?

Yes - I'm an ex-Cathedral chorister and I'm currently a regular soloist and perform locally in ensembles.

I also have sung with Derbyshire Singers and sing in an 8 piece party band.

Norman Smith - Pit Men Singer 4

Norman Smith

Tell us a bit about yourself...

I grew up in a working class community spending the first 5 years of my life in a 2 up, 2 down house in Preston, Lancashire. My parents then moved away from the area and their families, only seeing them again on annual holidays. Through regular contact over the years I kept in touch with my extended family and I strongly believe it is important to ‘remember where you come from’.

I spent my working life in the Youth Service, working mainly with disadvantaged young people’ developing projects which both met their needs and introduced them to new experiences. Challenging inequalities in society was always a driving force for my work. During my career as a youth worker I was an active member of the Community and Youth Workers Union, supporting campaigns for better funding for Youth Services.

I am particularly interested in this project as I felt angry about the closure of the mines in the 1990s, the treatment of the miners and the massive impact which it had at that time and still does, on their communities.

Do you have any previous singing experience?

Yes - I have been singing in the Kaleidoscope Community Choir for 18 years and am currently Chair. I have also performed with a male gospel quartet and also sing in a duo at open mic sessions.

WASTELAND  is showing at Derby Theatre from Thursday 6 - Friday 7 February, 7:30pm.

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