• Liam Xavier

Scratch Nights: The Journey to the First Three

At the start of this theatrical journey of ours, we worked out what we wanted to achieve. No time limits, as such, but goals and intentions that we could keep at the front of our minds each time we were presented with a decision that needed to be made.

One thing that was unwavering for us was that we wanted to create and inspire a support network for creatives. We had plans for poetry nights in bars and more intimate feedback sessions in cafés and workspaces. We had a vision for regular events that broke up the monotony of everyday life and encouraged people to step out of their comfort zones and to do so in a safe space. Simply put, there aren't enough support groups for creatives and we wanted to change that (even a little bit).

Then the-virus-that-shall-not-be-named struck down a great lightning bolt of hurt and inconvenience. The world was instantly changed during a year that was already wobbling at its foundations. It threw all our plans out the window.

We took some time to go through a period of reflection and, admittedly, demotivation. Then something happened. We found our feet and rediscovered our love for the dream. We hadn't properly lost it but these adventures are never simple nor easy and it is always important to take some breaks or allow some wallowing.

Once we had our energy and passion back, we stripped down our list of intentions to the most essential, most important and relevant ventures we could still do.

At the top of our list was Scratch Nights. If there was ever a time to set up an event that sought to support creatives, it was now. We just took it digitally. Over the last 3 months, we've had 3 Zoom Scratch Nights and have created a growing support community on Facebook.

Our first night was like the pilot episode. We had to get used to using Zoom and find the best way to introduce and order everyone, and we also had to make sure people had fun. We figured we wouldn't take it TOO seriously to avoid losing the fun, impromptu, semi-unpolished feel we wanted. We wanted it to be comfortable, safe, inviting and like friends chatting at the pub.

Did it live up to our expectations? Honestly, yes and then some. We were nervous and really weren't sure people were going to connect in the way we so desperately wanted them too, but they did. The performances were stunning, there was a tangible feeling of happiness and constant laughter and it was a refreshing change from the difficulty of the year.

Once we had the first night down, we were set. We invited more people, we advertised the night and we kept that intimate feeling. We kept it through the social media posts we put up and we kept it through the way we hosted the nights. No matter how many people join, we do not want it to feel formal or stuffy in any way. It's just a chance to share work without shame or judgement. The following 2 nights just got better and better, each time we've logged on to Zoom, pressed the record button and started, we've topped the night before it. It brings us up from any low feeling, it reminds us what we love so dearly about our industries and it gives up companionship where we might be feeling lonely. We are holding so dearly onto it and when the world resembles some semblance of normality, we will be bringing it to bars and cafes as we first planned and the atmosphere will be even more incredible.

On top of the nights, we now also have the Wilflen Creative Community. The WCC is everything you might expect it to be. It's a space on Facebook that allows all types of creatives to be a part of a group that offers insight, advice, experience and most importantly, inspiration and positivity. We set it up to expand on the dream of the Scratch Nights, to provide creatives with more support and a helping hand when the rest of the world is turning them away.

It is a wonderful journey we are on and this has reignited our trust in time, in the vision and in the viability of our industry.

If you are also a creative, in any sense, send us an email at hello@wilflentheatre.co.uk and let us know if you're interested in joining WCC (completely free) and/or the next scratch night (also free - for now). In the meantime, thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, to everyone who has joined us so far. Here's to the future.

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