Up to Scratch

Monday, 13th April 2015

Aberdeen Performing Arts held the first of three 'scratch nights' at the Lemon Tree last night. These nights allow new North East writers to hear their work performed, script-in-hand, by some of the city's actors with some basic but effective direction. With an underlying theme of 'Black Gold', the variety on offer was wide-ranging and the standard generally high.

I was pleased to hear work by two writers I know: Yvonne Heald whose wickedly cynical but heart-felt 'Times are a Changing' opened the show and Adam Coutts' whose madcap, high energy 'Esso S' closed it. Both were packed with laughs and made good use of the nominal ten minute time limit.

My favourite pieces were Shane Strachan's 'The Beginning of the End' and Stephanie Arsoska's 'Clutter'. The former was a very perceptive and very funny altercation between a "jobs for the boys" oilman (who has finally run out of "boys" and, ergo, "jobs") and a put upon careers advisor at the Job Centre. The latter a very different, warm yet poignant monologue which may or may not have started out with a direct link to oil but lost none of its impact as a result.

After all the pieces had been peformed, the writers gathered centre stage to answer our questions. So, what was I doing in the audience, you may ask? Well, I did begin to write a piece set immediately after the war at Pittodrie Stadium involving two men arguing over Aberdeen FC's move from black and gold (ahh, see what I was trying to do there?) strips to their now recognised red. I ran out of steam very quickly though, and ultimately a joke about Aberdeen eventually becoming oil-rich and the team benefitting was not enough to carry it over the finish line. However, I have a much stronger idea for the next night - 'Northern Lights' - and, hopefully, I'll manage to submit something (although I really should be working on my novel).