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Itching to act: theatre company works with community and puts the audience first

PUBLISHED: 08:00 08 November 2016

Itch & Scratch at Hackney Showroom

Itch & Scratch at Hackney Showroom

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Itch & Scratch theatre company present Best New Theatre, Great Night Out at the Hackney Showroom

Where else can you find four men in Speedos explaining the series of events that led to leaving the EU but Hackney?

“We promise it’ll make a lot more sense at the same time,” says Anna Spearman, co-founder of Itch & Scratch, the theatre company putting on a play called GB’s 1st Men’s Synchronised Swimming Team Do Brexit.

As if that isn’t enough, the play is one of six at their upcoming Best New Theatre, Great Night Out.

“We noticed that the same kind of people go to the theatre all the time,” she says. “We’re sure they’re all lovely but we wanted to try and get some new faces in the mix and make sure that theatre is something people get genuinely excited about – a night watching plays shouldn’t be the privilege of a small few and should be as good as a top night

out, whatever that may mean for you.”

As well as Spearpoint, the group was set up by Louisa Beadel, Aaron Gordon, Sope Dirisu, Helena Bonner and Simon Lennon and have produced four productions in The Old Red Lion Theatre and in Holloway.

The six founders met through the National Youth Theatre, first as friends and later forming the theatre company.

“One thing we love about us as a team is the diversity within the six of us,” says Anna. “We’re equally split when it comes to gender and all from vastly different backgrounds from around the country.”

It’s not a simple six plays you’ll get for this “Great Night Out” – though that seems like enough of an undertaking.

There’s a live house band, plus warm up act,

ping pong, a raffle and food and drink all going on under one roof.

Spearman says that the six of them and their varying skills help to keep what could be a mammoth enterprise running smoothly.

“Theatre can sometimes feel a bit grand and pompous to the outside eye, so all these other elements help ensure that we’re putting the audience first.”

And as if that isn’t enough, Itch & Scratch cite working with local communities as one of their main aims, setting up a project called The Local Play and sending a director and writer to research and develop an idea with a community group in Hackney. This year, Immediate Theatre is the focus and were involved with the making of Vacant/Occupied, written by Itch & Scratch’s Aaron Gordon.

Best New Theatre, Great Night Out is at the Hackney Showroom, November 10 to 11. Tickets, £12 from itchandscratch.co.uk


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