by Robyn Banks

On Sunday 6th May I attended Scratch It! hosted by Hack Theatre at the Norwich Arts Centre. Aimed at attracting new writers and ongoing projects, the evening looks to give a platform to work that is happening in the area so it can be developed and flourish. The arts varied across the evening, ranging from comedy to drama and using different styles and formats.

The night opened with A Play About Theresa May. In the latter stages of its development, the satire showed Theresa May detailing to the audience her plans for Brexit in a speech. Whilst trying to do so she was haunted by the ‘Ghost of Tory Past’ in the form of Jacob Rees-Mogg, as well as being ridiculed by ‘two pints Garage’, a comically dressed Nigel Farage. The play was fantastically set up, focusing on the issues that went further than just Brexit whilst also getting the audience involved, including a member being proposed to so she could ‘marry Brexit’. It will be performed at the Puppet Theatre in June and is well worth a watch.

The second act was Date Night, written by Natalie Froome, a English Literature student at UEA. Short but well written, the play shows a couple arguing over dinner before making up their differences with a comical ending. As her first ever piece to be performed in public, it represented  a good stepping stone and there is hopefully more to come from this promising writer.

the evening looks to give a platform to work that is happening in the area so it can be developed and flourish

Following this act was a piece titled The Girl who Learnt to Kneel by Charlotte Carter. A more dramatic piece, it presented a story of a relationship between two of the actors. However, it was difficult to place what the relationship was (it was problematic either way) as well as the time period of which it was set. This made it hard to follow and quite  confusing in many ways but the piece showed promise, especially regarding the two actors performing in the part shown.

The first half closed with Iona May’s what your clothes say about you. A deeply personal piece, it blended both comedy and tragedy to tell a fantastic story of a jacket’s wish to ‘not be a piece of casual wear’ and Iona’s personal story of losing her mother. The piece was tonally perfect, shifting slowly towards its ending and rounding off a great first half. Iona is one to watch out for in the future with their studies in poetry at UEA.

After a short interval, the second half opened up with a radio play called The Mardlers of Norfolk by Clive Stubbs. Rather like a Norfolk based episode of The Archers, the show was more  like a Carry On script, with a lot of innuendo, mainly about crabs and other fish, as well as jokes based off of the Norfolk accent. Definitely something that’d appeal to a particular audience, the piece showed originality in an area dominated by the aforementioned play on Radio 4.

This was followed by Dancing by Vishaka Sriram. Another short piece, it explored the relationship between sisters when one has shut themself away, out of fear of being rejected because of their queerness, and how in spite of these fears, they’ll always find acceptance. Again, it was straight to the point but beautifully written and performed. I would love to see more from this writer, especially if it includes more of the themes that was brought up in this piece. Vishaka is a name to watch out from HACK and Scratch It!

The penultimate piece of the night was Waking Nights, written by Jamie Callagher. The piece brought to life the trials and tribulations of a female social worker. Starting off with comedy, it moves to a darker yet still comedic tone to demonstrate the stresses of a much unappreciated role in our society, as well as highlighting the problems that arise by doing this type of job and identifying as female. The performance was confident and funny, and I hope that it gets a chance to be performed again to a wider audience.

It helped to shine a light on some fantastic up and coming people within both the writing and performing professions in the Norwich area

The final act of the night was Car Crush by Tony Olly. This piece  told the story of a car who has gained sentience and fallen in love with its owner, detailing to them the affair their partner had been having in order for the two of them to drive away into the sunset. A darkly comedic piece, it played on the sci-fi trope of a killer AI really well and with an interesting twist on what we are used to  seeing. It was the perfect way to end the night and I hope to see it performed again, as it is another piece that should be appreciated by a wider audience.

As a whole, the night was a great success. It helped to shine a light on some fantastic up and coming people within both the writing and performing professions in the Norwich area. I would thoroughly recommend going to the next Scratch It! to see who and what else is coming through the woodwork, as it is a fantastic night and a chance to find some real gems that might not otherwise have the chance to be seen elsewhere.

Featured image via A Play About Theresa May FB

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  1. The piece “The Girl Who Learned to Kneel” was a 3 scene extract from a one act play. The play in its entirety makes the relationship and the story, based on the real life diaries of Etty Hillesum, clear. The two professional actors were Joanna Swan as Etty Hillesum and PIP Dunn as Spier. The completed work will be performed at Norwich Cathedral on the evening of Thursday 4 October 2018.

    Liked by 1 person

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