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A KICK UP THE 7:84 Re: politics in the dark (453) In the last year or so The List has lamented the forced demise of Glasgow's LookOut Theatre Company and the Brunton. so it was hugely disappointing when Mary McKay's article on 7:84 concluded that 'calling it a day” was the company's best way out of its current problems. The magazine has every right to be critical. obviously. but should be encouraging re- evaluation and re-invention. rather than self-destruction. Rob Fraser Via email
WHAT’S IN A NAME? Re: politics in the dark (453) We need as much political theatre as we can get in Scotland and cannot afford to see a company die when it simply doesn‘t have to. 7:84 is indeed bogged down by its past but who is to blame for this? All these bloody daft journalists who mention John McGrath and The Cheviot every time they write about the company — in other words. you Mary McKay!
Both John and his play are dead and are no longer relevant to this contemporary company which requires an artistic director who can drive the company ton/yard without having to look backwards. This is the real problem that the company faces. Who can do this without being intimidated by its history?
Graham Parry via email
MENTAL ARGUMENT Re: politics in the dark (453) To proclaim outreach projects. working with issues such as mental health and domestic violence as ‘social not political' is insulting to the communities involved. yet only re- emphasises the need for such prejects to exist. Attitudes and treatment of mental health sufferers have barely changed since the late 70s.
McKay makes the point that
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aSylum seekers would be deemed a ‘more‘ topical issue. but why should the term ‘political theatre‘ relate only to today's headlines when we haven‘t yet fully dealt with the last 20 years?
Yes. for its time. The Cheviot, the Stag. . . was an exceptional piece of work and fulfilled the remit of 7:84 — but to compare the good old days to now takes no account of modern-day arts patrons. After attending a recent re-staging of The Cheviot (and being one of the few members in the audience under the age of 50). it struck me that the soap-box style isn't Suitable for the youth of our nation any longer. To provoke change in new audiences. I believe all Scottish companies (and not just 7:84. contrary to the article) must continually reinvigorate their priorities and ways of working and shake up the entire landscape of Scottish theatre. JW via email
TWISTED AND BENT Re: politics in the dark (453) It's a shame that some useful points by Mary McKay were obscured by such a clear antagonism to one company. The near sold-out current t0ur of Factory Girls by Frank McGuinness is one of our most successful shows. lts theme of peOple confronting the oppression of ordinary life. presented with humour and humanity. will also be seen in our spring production of Dario Fo's Can't Pay? Won’t Pay.’ What a political theatre company like 7:84 can offer is the platform for change not only through drama. but also by directly engaging with issues that matter to people and enabling them to take their message to politicians. Our Hostages to Fear project culminated in community performances to instigate debate about domestic abuse and a conference attended by workers from the sector. the judiciary. politicians and policy
makers from the Executive. This gave the participants the opportunity to express their fears and desires to the very people who can effect change.
Out Here. our project with mental health service users. gave the participants the unique oppOrtunity to address politicians in the Scottish Parliament on the issue of stigma and the mental health bill which is in the committee stage of development. This performance had more impact on politicians than the reading of reports as it gave flesh and blood to statistics.
All connected with 7:84 have continued the work championed by John McGrath to invigorate society through the power, emotion and joy of theatre. taking issue with a society which still chooses to ignore many of its citizens.
When Scotland has already lost three theatre companies this year. McKay should really consider what effect encouraging a large employer such as 7:84 to ‘come to a dignified end“ would have on the creative personnel we are collectively encouraging to stay in Scotland.
Rather than bending and twisting the company's long histOry against us. we invite our audiences and supporters to join us in looking forward to the coming years with renewed heart and enthusiasm.
Chris Bartter Chairperson, 7:84 Theatre Company
Re: crowd control (453)
It‘s not really a question of drivers versus pedestrians. It's drivers against each other. Most drivers forget they are operating a dangerous piece of machinery and don‘t give a toss about each other.
A lot of road users want driving laws slackened up. but only for themselves. Perhaps if drivers obeyed the speed limits and used amber lights properly (can anyone confess they
actually do that?) then perhaps inconveniences like pedestrians. cyclists and pram users would not be such a problem to the selfish bastards.
Re: singles reviews (453)
If Doug Johnstone was an album. I'd mark him zero out of five and throw him straight into the 50p bargain bucket.
His overtly biased opinions have always been annoying and of no help to the record buying public. but he has now become unbearable with his comments about John Squire's debut solo single.
I've always regarded The List's record reviews as a very useful gauge of what is good and bad. but with Doug's increasingly wanky comments from week to week I'm beginning to wonder if this section is wonh reading at all. Kirsteen McDermott via email
TONGUE TIED Re: live music reviews (452) In David Pollock's rambling review of Sam's Hot Car Lot. he described them as pleasingly cathartic. but then contradicted himself by drawing a musical analogy with biting your own tongue. If anyone can glean some form of catharsis from biting through their own tongue then they have some serious issues. Pollock needs to stop using question and exclamation marks in a misguided attempt to come across as miasmic and try writing an honest and involved account of things. The List does a good job of covering music in Scotland and I find Doug Johnstone. Carolyn Aiken and Camilla Pia in particular to all be highly adept. Mr Pollock needs to remedy his style to regain the respect of his readership. Phew. that was cathartic. Nick Kent via email
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