Posted on Tuesday 29 September

Hello all,
If you’ve had a little flick through our festival programme you will have come across a rather curious thing entitled Scratch Night. This type of event, as pioneered by BAC, gives the chance for performers to present their unfinished work, and to get valuable feedback from the audience. Some of you may be unfamiliar with what goes down during these Nights (nothing untoward I promise!), so I thought today I would take you back, ‘3 years past, to my younger and more inexperienced days, on a dark and stormy night…’
There I was, armed with a theatre friend and a newly purchased drink, I headed upstairs to experience my first taste of Scratch Night. I was expecting that stuffy auditorium atmosphere, self conscious coughing and hear a pin drop silence. Instead, the atmosphere was buzzing, akin to that of a trendy wine bar scene, but with more of a purpose than just getting off our faces (that was saved for afterwards, don’t worry).
Taking our seats amongst the crowd, we were faced with four performers on a stage, scripts in hand: this was not my usual idea of a Friday night, no Netflix to be seen but I tentatively settled down into what became a weird and witty evening. Following the first performance, we were given cards with questions and a pen. I felt almost drunk with the power, no longer was I a Scratch virgin, no, I had my Theatre Expert Hat on and offered what I’m sure was some very invaluable criticism.

15462661735_8486bb6f26_kThe next show was to be a retelling of A Christmas Carol, during which a friendly bearded man uttered those two dreaded words – “Audience participation”. As I sank further into my seat, six more enthusiastic audience members volunteered. Phew. I could relax now. Or at least I did until I experienced the last performance which sent my head into a spin. Surely a rival to Haruki Murakami in terms of plot bonkersness, this show-in-progress somehow managed to link Darlington,a family of rats, Japan and a recent newspaper article which named the North East the new Detroit. As I said, bonkers.

Feeling suitably mind-bended (probably not a word) and entertained, I headed off into the night, telling anyone who’d listen of what I’d just witnessed and desperately looking forward to its return. As it so happens, Scratch Night is once again gracing the lovely people of Darlington with its presence this week. All new performances, but with the same unpredictability and experimentation.

Get yourself down to Liddiard Theatre this Friday @ 9pm, you’ll be in for a treat!!