Only Skin’s scratch night: a space for the new and experimental

Published

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Credit: Stanley Smith

Aea Varfis-van Warmelo
Deputy Culture Editor – Theatre

The 4 October marked Only Skin’s fourth scratch night, described as an event that showcases “developing local artists, writers, theatre-makers and performers”. It did not disappoint in this respect. With the intention of creating a space where new work can be tested in front of an audience, performances vary in degree of polish, but all are unanimously engaging.

Set in the comfortable and small Poetry Club of SWG3, there is an intimacy that begets a dialogue with the audience. Slightly on the short side, the night offered five acts, where word-heavy performances outweigh the more physical. The Spine’s Silt, Powder, Scrape and Carrie Skinner and Richy Carey’s there’s something happening somewhere stand out by virtue of involving a degree of theatrical performance, although both are interesting in their separate ways. Skinner and Carey state that they are exploring “the proposition that we are living in a time where speculative futures and memory replace the present” and the performance does feel haunted by the ghost of what we are anticipating will occur. However, this feeling of emptiness does seem to become a crutch, and it occasionally feels like watching a joke with no punchline, although this did not necessarily detract from the quality of the piece.

This isn’t to say the poetry or text-based performances were forgotten. Andy Edwards’ In Burrows is highly memorable with its way of exploring language and memory through his serpentine text and repetitions, with certain of his linguistic quirks still echoing through my mind days later. On the other hand, Adam Greig performs Am Jammy Like That with such dry wit that it is unavoidably funny in its simplicity and variety of characters. The evening concludes with Clare Marcie’s What Would Kanye Do, which provided a healthy introspection on our relationships with oppression and pop music, where Marcie weaves political beliefs with personal anecdotes and nightmares into what feels like a satisfyingly complete piece of work.

The acts are eclectic and varied, in a way that can only be found at a scratch night. The number of acts and brevity of the evening did leave something to be desired, and the feeling of unsatisfied anticipation found in there’s something happening somewhere resonates throughout the evening. However, it is a testament to Only Skin that, despite this, each act was met with warmth and support; they have created a space where artists can thrive, regardless of their art form and each of their scratch nights is more than worth seeing.