It has now been many months since the flurry of activity that surrounded the creation of Is this a Waste Land? in March, April and May of this year. This project has been epic in every dimension – it took three years to bring to fruition, countless conversations, sites, interruptions and unexpected complications, but Is this a Waste Land? now exists.
We rehearsed for 5 weeks on a site in the heart of Corby in March and April. As expected we gradually fell in love with it. We had almost no rain until the final week of rehearsals and so the land completely transformed from muddy boggy to hard, cracked, almost desert like. The grasses grew and flowers bloomed as the days got longer. Slowly the town became more curious about us and what we were doing. We had the JobCentre befriend us on twitter, and the teenagers who work in the cinema came along, and brought their friends with them. Quite a few audience members from the first night came back the next night and brought their friends and their families with them – it was quite extraordinary.
As we sat around the fire after the show drinking tea and eating biscuits, we heard so many amazing stories about people’s memories and experiences of the land when it used to be a college. It was incredibly moving.
And then we moved on to Glasgow where the site was vast and covered in broken glass and large holes and steel rebar sticking out of the ground from all sorts of angles…and the headphones absolutely didn’t work which was hilarious (not). Keren (wonderful producer) and Sam (wonderful production manager) spent hour after hour trying out different possibilities. Transmitters on roof of van, transmitters on roof of cabin, transmitters in middle of site, transmitters on borrowed scaff pole from Tramway theatre (bingo!)….after 20 hours – phew and big relief all round.
images by Emily Jenkins
The site manager, Peter was an absolute saint, as was Daisy Douglas the producer from Dance International Glasgow, who just quietly got on with making it all possible. So when Friday came and the first audience arrived we were somehow ready and so was the enormous Glasgow sky.
images by Beth Chalmers
We worked too many hours, and too many nights, and by the end of it all I think I was too tired to know much about what we had made or achieved! But I think it was quite wild and quite beautiful.
I am looking forward to Dance Umbrella – to re-visit the show after some months away from it. We are on another remarkable site nestled between London City Airport and an historic Flour Mill – Millenium Mills that seems to be of huge interest to Urban Explorers and such like. There are all kinds of curiosities dotted around close by – Charing Cross Pier, various boats, and an old silo. It is also the site of the ill-fated London Pleasure Gardens which were set up in 2012 as part of the Olympic activity: this initiative was designed to see the transformation of the derelict, ex-industrial Pontoon Dock into a pleasure garden featuring round-the-clock music, arts, cafés and bars. Events scheduled over the 2012 summer included firework displays, music festivals and promenade performances. Unfortunately the venue was closed in its opening weekend amidst organisational chaos and never re-opened. It has remained empty ever since.
So, we are working amongst a rich and vibrant history and we very much hope that you will join us there. The site is literally opposite Pontoon Dock DLR station and the show runs for six nights across two weekends:
13th – 15th October 5pm
20th – 22nd October 5pm
For tickets and further information: www.danceumbrella.co.uk/event/is-this-a-waste-land/