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Interview with Civic Scratch artist: Saskia Solomons from West Yorkshire based Paper Whale Theatre company

We gain an artist’s insight into performance scratch nights; where companies try out their new work for a public audience, in an interview with Saskia Solomons from new company, Paper Whale Theatre - ahead of the Civic Scratch on Thursday 28 April


How did you find out about Civic Scratch and how do you find the scratch application process?

Applying for a scratch is always challenging and useful. Challenging because it asks you to articulate your idea before it's really formed in your mind and useful because it forces you to ask yourself 'what is it we are trying to make here?' Often that question can't be answered until you stick something in front of an audience, but the process of trying to answer it (or at least daring to ask it) is a furtive struggle that can push you into cohesion. We particularly liked the question about work that has affected us - either positively or negatively.

It gave us the opportunity to give the Civic a sense of what moves us, inspires us and frustrates us in the work of others, which is a great way to secure for us and them what it is we are aiming to do; giving feedback to others (albeit hypothetically) is a fantastic task to ask of people who are in turn asking for feedback. 


What are you hoping to achieve from the performing in the Civic Scratch?

As a new-born company, we are devising our first show. At this delicate stage, testing our ideas in front of an audience is crucial. From the Civic Scratch we are hoping to receive as much feedback as possible, be it from the Q&A, feedback forms or (most importantly) that vital first opportunity to feel an audience's reaction when you're on stage trying new material. 

We are looking forward finding inspiration in the work of the other performing companies - a night like this is a wonderful opportunity to meet peers and even potential future collaborators. We hope to find the audacity to dare, the pleasure of being unashamedly silly and, if confidence should fail us, the courage to fail with absolute joy.


What do you think other aspiring artists / the audience will enjoy from attending the Civic Scratch?

The scratch night will hopefully prove that everyone (whether performer or audience) is in a constant process of research and development. During this process failure must be welcomed - if you are not willing to fail, you will never risk and without risk, there is only mediocrity. Failure is vital and humbling. And what better place to fail than in front of a live audience? Hopefully this simple truth will help aspiring artists to engage in a free and fearless process of creation.


The Civic Scratch night gives Northern based emerging artists and companies a chance to try out their new work in front of a public audience, and gain feedback to develop it further.

The five artists testing out their new shows at the Civic Scratch on Thursday 28 April are North East dance theatre company Company of Others, Manic Chord Theatre and Paper Whale from West Yorkshire, The Bare Project from Sheffield, and Barnsley’s own The OUTFIT Collaborative.

The audience reserve their tickets for free and ‘Pay What You Can Afford’ on the night based on what they feel the performances were worth, the proceeds are then split equally between all artists and The Civic.

For more information and to book visit the Civic Scratch page or call the Box Office on 01226 327000.