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Dungeness: The Desert In The Garden

Graeme Miller

© John Smith
1987 – 2024

Over a period of several years Graeme Miller captured images, sounds and testimonies from the isolated milieu of Dungeness, a bleak headland in SE England which is dominated by two massive power stations.

Dungeness: The Desert In The Garden was a music theatre piece that drew on these stolen fragments to create a haunting theatrical landscape. The recorded sound and speech were manipulated with sampling technology and fused with live piano to illustrate a musical logic that worked within a symphonic structure – in a slightly ironic sense it was an opera. Stark and evocative choreography together with film maker John Smith’s film text unfolded to reveal a production that existed somewhere between cinema and theatre.

With Heather Ackroyd, Una Brandon-Jones, Lou Glanfield and Helen Ottaway (piano/voice & piano arrangements) Mary Phillips (piano/voice), Paul Roylance (lighting & set design), John Smith (film), Dave Hearne, Andy Wilson, Phillip Wood (film assistants) Simon Corder (photography)

Funded by Arts Council of Great Britain and commissioned by the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London.

“The ubiquitous junk and jetsam speak constantly of memory and history… The Desert In The Garden is an accomplished and resonant work.”

Performance Magazine
© John Smith