Norfolk actor Marie Cooper at Hack Theatre Scratch It Night

Hack Theatre’s Scratch It

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Marie Cooper at Norwich Arts Centre Scratch night with Hack Theatre

I had a great time on my first scratch night, working with Daisy Plackett, Eavann Mallon, and Actor/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 a 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, and what you didn’t like, and 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, and filmmakers go along. If not to get involved, then at least 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 takes place, the more beautiful I imagine it will become.

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