White Trash is a dirty ballet of reality. It was created with and performed by seven young white working-class men from Manchester. They played pool and the audience watched. Out of the banality of their game and their conversations and relationships emerged a sense of who these young men were. This ordinariness was interrupted by bursts of music and dance. White Trash took no moral position: it simply attempted to present a group of individuals for who they are, showing all their sides, beautiful and ugly.
White Trash belongs to a series of projects made by Quarantine that explore the lives of people who – at least on the surface – are tied together as a group.
Like Butterfly, EatEat or Susan & Darren,White Trash explored those ties as well as the individual history of each performer.
“This piece kept making me ask why. Why are the incoherent mumblings of a group of scally lads so compelling? Why are these untrained players who are unaware of the rules of theatre so immensely watchable? Why is this disjointed deconstructed piece of theatre the most complete piece of theatre I’ve seen in years? And why haven’t I been challenged in this way for such a long time?”
Gerry Potter, artist and performer
Why we made White Trash
“In 2003 I attended the European Urban Theatre Conference in Amsterdam. After hours of debate about what ‘urban’ meant, I sat up and really listened when social researcher Gerard Lemos referred to a group that, in his opinion, sits far out on the margins of European culture: young, white, poor, working-class men. Lemos talked about the shift in urban cultural landscapes and the push by governments and arts funding bodies to take account of new or changing populations; their prioritising of ‘cultural diversity’ and ‘social exclusion’. Then he began to talk about ‘white trash’, in particular the young poor white working class men who get overlooked by the ‘arts system’, whose culture we don’t see fit to be part of our ‘diversity’. This is the group, to paraphrase Lemos, who are rebelling most aggressively and often violently against the cultural mix (in Britain specifically, but of course it’s a Europe-wide issue) that they perceive as pushing them further out onto the margins.
For some time I’d wanted to try to make a piece of theatre with people who are from a background similar to mine – white, male, working class, not affluent. These are voices we don’t hear until they riot in Ordsall or vote BNP in Burnley. I wanted to know what the world looked like through the eyes of young men a generation younger than me.”
Richard Gregory, Director
What you see is artfully directed and utterly authentic, a show within a show - because the seven are finding themselves as they perform, because their performance is their triumph, their nightly act of self-definition. In short, you're not told what happened; you're there as it happens... Peter Preston, The Guardian, March 04
Credits and performance details
Performers: Matthew Barnes, Harley Bartles, Daniel Bradshaw, Terry Dixie, Dean Hughes, William McCoy, Wesley Sutton.
Conceived and directed by Richard Gregory; choreographer Christine Devaney; designer Simon Banham; writer Kevin Fegan; lighting designer Mike Brookes; sound designer Greg Akehurst; producer Julia Turpin.