Free talk on radical Seventies theatre in Galway

Cast members of 7:84 on their 1974 Irish tour.

Cast members of 7:84 on their 1974 Irish tour.

Controversial Scottish agitprop theatre troupe 7:84 visited Galway in 1974 and left a lasting impression on the city and its nascent arts scene.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the group’s 1974 Irish tour, there will be a free, illustrated public talk in the Mick Lally theatre, Druid Lane, this Friday, March 22, at 8pm.

The thrust of the talk will be how the 7:84 (Scotland ) Theatre company had a tremendous - yet under-appreciated - impact on a generation of Irish actors, directors and writers. For the Saw Doctors’ manager Ollie Jennings, who promoted several of their Galway performances in the 1970s, they had an “energy, swagger, and a political message … their singing made their shows accessible, and their mix of socialism and entertainment was infectious.”

Organised by University of Galway’s Irish Centre for the Histories of Labour and Class, the presentation’s guest speaker will be Dr Andrew Newby, a specialist in Scottish-Irish comparative history, and a senior lecture at Finland’s University of Jyväskylä.

Taking their name from a statistic of the time (7 per cent of the people own 84 per cent of the wealth ), the company toured its dramas through Scotland, then Ireland in 1974, with its radical ‘ceilidh-play’ The Cheviot, The Stag and the Black, Black Oil. This musical drama, later adapted for TV, recounted Scottish economic history and its injustices from the Highland Clearances of the 19th Century, to the discovery of North Sea oil.

Co-founder of the company, Elizabeth MacLennan, recalled that the audience in Galway’s Leisureland, in Salthill, responded to the Cheviot’s narrative by saying “that’s our story”.

No booking necessary. All welcome.


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