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TUG - The Waterways Project

video:Dance Umbrella

Tug is a performance that floats along uk canals on a historic narrowboat Renfrew. In negotiation with her owner Pete Boyce we have constructed a theatre set in her open hold area, including stage and backdrop adapting her into a bizarre yet spectacular contemporary showboat.


Urban canals tend to conjure up ideas of disenchanted places, historically the place of the socially excluded navvies and more recently showing the decay and neglect of our abandoned industrial trade. It is in these wasteland territories, only now being reclaimed, repopulated and re-imagined that we wish to find material, movement languages and stories to weave into engaging scenarios.

Audience can either board the boat for an intimate experience or else follow the boat on a guided walk along the towpath with an audio experience on headsets. We  involve the audience as though they were our cargo, playing with the merging of real, imaginary, functional and mythical situations. Each spectator, on the craft or on the towpath is invited to form part the experience of their fellow audience members.


TUG began in 2010 with an initial 2 weeks research at Redhill Marina, Nottinghamshire on a floating raft pulled by a Tug boat. It was produced with Dance4 and supported through the BDE2010 research project, with contributing funds from Dance4, Dance Umbrella, Dublin Dance Festival, The Lowry, Merseyside Dance Initiative and The Place. The project engages with boat people, waterways communities, local history, amateur performers, storytellers and landscape, in a sense embedding the performance and associated events in the location.

We then redeveloped the project using Renfrew and a grant from Arts Council England's lottery funding in 2012/13. Again Dance4 co-produced for a show in Nottingham city and Watford Palace Theatre produced our second version as part of Imagine Watford Festival. Support for this phase gratefully received from Halton Borough Council, The Brindley, The Canal & Rovers Trust and South East Dance


A third phase saw TUG in Kings Cross October 2013 commissioned and produced by Dance Umbrella Festival and The Place and using additional performers from EDge. The most recent TUG happened at Waterside Arts Centre in Sale in Septemeber 2014.

Image credits:Tony Wadham

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