Join eight miners on a descent into the subterranean world of South African Mine. Discover a hidden history.
Extracts From The Underground is an original South African work of music theatre. Extracts personalises the human experience within the anonymity of the industrial mining complex. At once historical and acutely contemporary, Extracts will resonate with audiences in South Africa and abroad.
The project is a meditation on the sound-world and improvised spoken languages heard within the depths of a South African mine. Miller’s libretto features three rare archival sources: including a 1967 Miners Fanakalo Dictionary and A Register of Mining Accidents dating from the 1930’s.
Over the course of the live performance, the audience embarks on a journey of descent: traveling from ground level into the deepest reaches of the earth’s rock-face, and so into the hidden strata of South African history. Along the way we hear testimony from miners about life and labour underground: accidents, challenges of heat exhaustion, dust inhalation and hearing loss.
Miller blends multiple African choral traditions – from the a cappella singing of the miners’ choirs (Isicathamiya) to the current protest songs of the labour movement. The singers create the rhythms and sounds of the miners’ tools: the shovels, drills, pick axes, explosives, and heavy machinery that turn underground life into an intense cacophony.
Woven into the musical world is a specially devised ‘sound-sculpture’ which the singers strike. This is made up of a series of mining picks individually tuned to distinct musical notes. This sound-sculpture serves as both a musical instrument and as a theatrical element of the staging and design.
In the current climate of alienation between worker and mine owners all over the world, Extracts provides an entry point for civil society to engage with this life normally hidden from view - shining light into the darkness of a global obsession to extract the riches from our earth at any cost.