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7:84 (England): performance and ideological transaction

posted on 03.11.2010, 16:26 by Nadine Holdsworth
The central enquiry of this thesis is an exploration of the 7:84 (England) Theatre Company which was operational during the period 1971-1985. Contextualizing the company within the broad spectrum of ideologically oppositional theatre practice which developed after 1968, it will examine the interface between political theatre and societal and political structures evident in the 1970s and 1980s. The study will also address the reflexive relationship between theory and practice as it considers the dynamic relationship between formal structures, performative strategies and subject matter as a means of addressing both a macro and micro political agenda. The first chapter traces the relationship of 7:84 to the Arts Council. It charts the shifting ethos of this institution leading to the withdrawal of the company's subsidy in 1984. In particular it will assess the role of the Arts Council as an agent of economic, cultural and political control. The second chapter addresses the ideological framework which informed the rejection, by many politically motivated theatre practitioners, of hierarchical management structures and working practices in favour of collective and co-operative methods of organisation and creation. It relates this to the composition and working practices of 7:84, with specific reference to the function of women and the performer, director and writer. The third chapter draws on serniotic theory to analyse the shifting function of the audience within political theatre. It considers how 7:84 sought and consolidated a specifically working-class audience and explores their function as active negotiators of meaning within a process of ideological transaction. The fourth chapter addresses the conceptual framework underpinning the choice of performative strategies utilized within the plays performed by 7:84. The chapter has as the object of its enquiry such devices as: the adoption of epic structures, the foregrounding of history, comic intervention, direct address and the function of dialect and song. The final chapter contains close textual analysis of a number of 7:84 plays in order to examine the representation of women and the working-class and how this relates to shifting patterns of identification and societal structures. The thesis concludes with a brief assessment of the achievements and impact of 7:84.



  • The Arts, English and Drama


  • English and Drama


© Nadine Holdsworth

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University. If you are the author of this thesis and would like to make it openly available in the Institutional Repository please contact:

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