Scratch That is a new artist development programme fro playwrights from typically underrepresented backgrounds. S+K aims is to support and develop an existing idea and transform it from page to the stage in four weeks.
Scratch That led by S+K's Literary Associate Myah Jeffers and guest director for 2018 Emily Aboud. We caught up with Emily and Myah it get some insight into the workings of Scratch That and it's importance!
How did Scratch That come about and what can participating playwrights expect from the programme?
Myah: Scratch That as a concept was the brainchild of our Artistic Director, Malakai Sargeant. After pitching the idea to me, we sat one night and really fleshed out how we wanted to start working with playwrights and developed the idea to what it is today. Participating playwrights can expect to be positively challenged by either myself or Emily and supported through the quick fire redraft process. Through this, they will have the ability to crack open their story in terms of the structure and narrative arc, as well as ending the process with a rehearsed reading of their work. I mean, I think that's pretty exciting!
Emily: I am so lucky to be involved in this fantastic programme. During the summer, Myah got in touch about this opportunity with the S+K Project, a company I admired; and, after hearing about Scratch That and the ethos of the company, I was utterly compelled to become part of the team. Participating playwrights can expect dramaturgical support and the opportunity for a proper R&D showcase, directed by either Myah or myself.
What's the process been like so far?
Myah: We're still kicking off actually. We had our introductory workshop at the Bernie Grants Arts Centre back in September, where we invited local writers to join Emily and I in shaping their narrative and exploring the possibilities of what their scripts could be. Through this, we obviously cheekily plugged Scratch That - but in general it was such a pleasure to meet so many hungry local writers with such quality ideas that would benefit from dramaturgical support.
Emily: The process has been inspiring. We ran a writers' workshop a few weeks back and got to meet writers of all ages and backgrounds. It has really made think about our definition of an "emerging writer". Often, programmes such as these are limited to those 25 and under, yet, our workshop had no age limit. It was wonderful and frankly, inspiring to speak to older writers, still at the beginning of their career and hear the stories that they want to tell.
Did you have access to anything like Scratch That at the beginning of your respective careers?
Myah: I started my journey in the theatre world as a Theatre Maker on an artist development programme called The Foundry at The Birmingham Rep. It was great opportunity to meet other makers and begin to learn about the ecology of theatre and performance. However, what is special about Scratch That is the one-to-one mentoring aspect of it, which means that participating playwrights will be able to take full advantage of Emily or myself and we'll be able to hopefully build a level of trust, which will ultimately have a positive impact on the process.
Emily: My career has revolved around mentorship. In my home country of Trinidad and Tobago, I was encouraged to write and perform with Lilliput Theatre and now, I return often to teach classes. It was incredibly difficult to pursue a career in the arts from the Caribbean and programmes such as Scratch That do not exist even in the most basic form. Since moving to London, I've been blessed to be in company of artists who have taken me under their wing and allowed me to explore, experiment and learn. It all comes down to mentorship and it's an honour to offer the same mentorship to someone else.
What do you both hope to achieve with this programme and why should budding playwrights sign up to something like this?
Myah: I'm hoping through this programme, S+K will begin to build a community of exciting playwrights who will not only receive bespoke support from us, but also receive support from each other. It's no secret that writing can feel quite isolating, so for us to expand and further explore the way we work with writers is quite an exciting thing for the company.
Playwrights, if you're reading this and you currently have a play idea or a draft of a script you'd like to further - get in touch and join the family!
Emily: This programme, to put it simply, is a way to give a new writer a platform to speak their truth. It's no secret that the theatre industry is a tough egg to crack; especially for those who have not had the opportunity (or Oxbridge acceptance letter) to pursue it due to age, funds, access etc. Our submissions are completely open to every human who has an idea for a play. The goal is simple: to tell a good story, a story we've not heard before from people we've not it heard from.