Review of SEVEN, Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline 9th September 2023

Review of SEVEN, Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline 9th September 2023

by Ann Thallon

Seven: A Human Rights Documentary Drama: Scottish Public Première, brought to Dunfermline’s Carnegie Hall Studio, by ‘Making Rights Real’, 9.9.23.

Described as ‘a riveting piece of documentary theatre, SEVEN tells the true stories of seven women who bravely fought for the well-being of women, families and children around the globe.

To the haunting strains of live fiddle music, the audience entered the darkened Studio space, to find the cast of 13 already seated in 2 rows, the back row elevated on rostra, facing straight on to the banked seating of the auditorium, so every audience member could see every performer’s face at all times.

For 70 minutes, the actors remained in position – but we, the audience, were transported across 3 continents, as tales of horrendous human rights abuses were made real for us through the captivating storytelling of the cast, who took on the roles and spoke the words of the 7 real women, each of whom turned their personal victimhood around, to achieve inspirational advances in enabling countless others to be granted their ‘inalienable’ human rights.

Whilst it took the skill and collaboration of 7 professional playwrights to interweave the 7 real life storylines into this two act performance, having a cast who were not professional actors only enhanced the audience’s connection to the stories brought alive for them in that Studio auditorium. There was a palpable connection between the actors, a seamless unfolding of the play, which spoke volumes of the underpinning of supportive relationships which surely developed between director, actors, and the Making Rights Real team, as confidence and self belief began to blossom over the months of workshops and rehearsals.

Performance team – all your work surely paid off! You gave voice to those 7 women. Your audience listened in complete concentration throughout, then erupted in applause. More – many left the space, their awareness raised, their understanding and empathy enhanced – and perhaps even more determined to add their own voices to making a difference to equal rights for all.

That each of the actors is, in their own way, already an activist for human rights within their central Scottish communities, brought an authenticity to the work. As one of the actors said afterwards, ‘It was empowering taking part in this project. And equally empowering as telling the stories of the 7 women, was sharing our own stories with each other. That’s another human rights documentary play just waiting to be dramatised!’

The power of Seven’s message, brought alive for us through this dramatisation, should undoubtedly be experienced by many more of us, across our communities – made accessible to people of all abilities / disabilities. Where to next, ‘Seven’?

Ann Thallon (on right of photo) with her friends, outside Carnegie Hall before SEVEN performance