Review of Scratch It and ‘A Tune of Two Muses’

Marie Cooper Actor performing in A Tale of Two Muses at Scratch it night
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It was really difficult to concentrate on my studies today. I came back from lunch to discover a fantastic review of Hack Theatre’s Sunday Scratch It evening on the Norwich Eye website. I think this might be the first time I have read my name in a review before. This could possibly very well explain my extreme levels of over-excitability.  It was a wonderful weekend, working with both the talented Emma Zadow (writer and actor) and Ross Chandler (directing). To be surprised by such a lovely review, including the work we did on a ‘Tune of Two Muses’, really made my day.

Read the full review at Norwich Eye…

Acting at Being Real at Hack Theatre’s Scratch Night

Image of John Everett Millais's painting of Lizzie Siddal, 'Ophelia'
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Image of Dante Gabriel Rosetti's painting of Lizzie Sidall, 'Beata Beatrix'I am feeling extremely privileged to have been given the opportunity to play Lizzie Siddal in a Scratch reading of Emma Zadow’s “A Tune of Two Muses” at Hack’s Scratch It at Norwich Arts Centre tomorrow evening.

I had the most amazing morning, working with Emma and Ross on the script which is based on the lives of Jane Burden and Elizabeth Siddal. I came away from rehearsal feeling energised and inspired, from working alongside such talented, creative people. The depth in the work is beautiful and the energy brought into it by Ross today was intense. Scratch night is becoming my new favourite thing.

It hit me later today that, not only am I playing somebody ‘real’ for the first time in my acting career, but also portraying a person who I have seen countless times in Pre-Raphaelite paintings that I loved, and yet I knew nothing about.

And now here I am….being Lizzie, wearing her life and her experiences as a Muse, for a tiny moment in time. I sincerely hope that I can do her memory, Emma’s beautiful writing and Ross’s energetic direction, justice.

Hack Theatre’s Scratch It, Norwich Arts Centre

Scratch Night at Norwich Arts Cente
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I had a great time on my first scratch night, working with Daisy Plackett, Eavann Mallon, and Director Simon Morgan on a script called “Newmarket” by writer Keith Bradley.

Scratch nights are not new to me. I’d been along to watch people that I know perform in the short plays, but it hadn’t fully sunk in what was going on and how lucky we are to have this means of creative outlet in Norwich. Not until I began to perform in them myself did I fully appreciate their value to the artistic community in the city. So, I thought I would explain a little about what they are all about.

Writers submit their work for the Scratch night. It could be a short play or excerpt from a book they are writing or section of a screenplay etc. Actors read and perform the script. You will see that the actors are on stage with the script in their hands. Scratch night isn’t a polished piece of work that the performers have spent weeks learning lines and rehearsing for. Directors have only a very brief period of time, one or two rehearsals, to get the performance up to….scratch. (Sorry, not sorry…couldn’t resist it).

Scratch It, for the audience…

…it’s a chance to get an exciting and exclusive peek at a brand new piece of contemporary writing, performed up on the stage before anybody else does. You could be seeing a dramatised piece of writing that may well evolve into a bestselling book, series or movie, before it’s even finished. There’s no clichéd, pop-culture, ‘Oh no not again, we’ve seen it all before’, at the Scratch nights. This is raw! It’s fresh. Anything could happen.

You can ask the writer questions. Tell them what you liked, what you didn’t like, discuss what it meant to you and where you think it might be going. The writer may even take on board what you say, they might not. But where else do you get the chance to speak to a writer directly and tell them, in the moment you saw their work, exactly how it first made you feel?

Scratch It, for the participants….

…it’s an amazing showcase for their work. For the writers, the scratch night is a brilliant opportunity to illuminate their creation and see it performed up on stage, maybe before it’s even fully complete. They can see their words given form and their characters come to life. They can get a good idea of what works and what doesn’t.

For the actors it’s a chance to play with their versatility, to be given a role and to embrace the challenge of finding that character within themselves, to portray it genuinely at short notice. A real fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants test of their talent.

The Scratch night, being hosted by Michelle Sewell of HACK Theatre at Norwich Art’s Centre, is a fantastic evening that is giving local creative writing, directing and acting talent a showcase for their work. I would highly recommend writers, actors, directors, filmmakers going along. If not to get involved, then at least to expand your network and take joy in the wonderful, creative endeavours in progress right now, here in Norwich.

We are incredibly fortunate to have a vibrant, experimental, creative, community in Norwich and the more connections and collaborations across this artistic landscape that take place, the more beautiful I imagine it will become.

Check out Norwich Arts Centre website for details of the next Scratch night.

Acting like it’s all hard work

Image of Woman with wings
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So stressed. Juggling balls. Spinning plates. Spinning myself. Today was a day of anxiety, of making mistakes because I wasn’t thinking straight and things felt like they were all going wrong.

But then I stopped off at the Norwich Film Festival on the way home and some of the short films really touched me. They brought really odd little snippets of my past back. A little boy watching a wolf loping, inexhaustible by the side of the window of a car. A mother who realises that she and her little boy are all the matters in the world. A little girl who is bullied for being an artist and an individual.

Then walking home I get an email asking me to read somebody’s script for a possible collaboration/adaptation for the stage. I have an email about the opportunity for my first paid acting work of 2018. I’m working on a piece of film next week and I have two other scripts I am working on. Then suddenly I find it’s all pouring out and I’m crying with happy, realising that despite all the stress, the anxiety and the trying to make ends meet around my studies, I am happier than I have ever been. I have many people in my life that I feel grateful and lucky to know. People who believe in me. That I believe in me.

I am acting. I am doing what I love. I am blessed to have found my calling. To all those brave, beautiful, creative, broken, mended, struggling artists, whatever your pursuasion.  Stay bold. Stay persistent. Stay resilient! Fight, fall down and get back up. Keep standing. It’s worth it.

Return to Candleford

Image of a sound wave
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A brief return to Candleford this afternoon as I met up with Dorcas (Lyn), Mrs Gubbins (Ros) and Michelle (from Willowspin and MagicFolk) recording a song from Candleford. Michelle, who wrote much of the music and songs for the plays had a studio set up. The recordings made me laugh, because at one point Michelle had so many tracks of us singing all at the same time, it sounded like a whole army of minions 😂

I can’t wait to hear what it sounds like when everyone has their tracks complete and edited. Also, I’m really looking forward to meeting up with all the wonderful Larkrise to Candleford family again in the new year, once all the film has been edited.