CPCL's Scratch Poetry Cycles!

We are pleased, and somewhat trepidatious, to announce that this coming Wednesday, March 24 will be CPCL’s first experiment with what we’re calling Scratch Poetry Cycles. REST ASSURED, this does not mean that our open-mic format is disappearing, it simply means that one part of the evening each month will be devoted to this experiment. 

Some Background


“Scratch” is a term that comes to us from the theatre milieu, and while there's no Wikipedia page for the term “scratch theatre,” many of you may already be familiar with it. 


For those who aren’t, a simple search on Teh Google will show you that lots of theatre companies have them. The most common descriptions include the phrases "Work in Progress" and "a chance to try new ideas," with a “sympathetic audience” -- consisting of fellow creatives and also general fans of the craft. For example, London’s Pleasance Theatre Trust describes their “scratch” evening thusly: “A Pleasance Scratch is an evening of variety, ideas and fun; a chance to see artists present brave, new work at the first stages of development.“


I think the above quote accurately describes, on a broad level, the

“scratch” experience. 


To explain in more detail, I (Erin) will tell you guys how I came

across the concept. Before lockdown, I participated in a Scratch

Theatre Night at Belfast’s Accidental Theatre. I did three

pieces (15 minutes) from my never-ending long-form poem /

rock opera and then there were, I think, maybe four or five

other performances. 


Before the audience arrived, us performers had formulated

questions about our work for which we were hoping the audience

could provide feedback. It was amazing; the theatre was full and

between performances, the audience was very involved in going

over to the posters to answer the questions.  


To the right, you'll see the resulting poster with the questions I

asked and the post-it notes are the answers from various

audience members.  


I've deiced to call this “author-directed feedback,” and

that's what it will be. Your questions, answered by an audience –

maybe a bit like how they test run things in Hollywood? I wouldn’t

know cause I ain’t never been to one. 


Translations Necessary

Obviously, we’ll be tailoring this notion for a Zoom environment. I think what we’ll do is after the performance, we’ll throw up a PowerPoint screen of the performer's questions that you, the audience, can choose either to answer in the chat, OR in a Word document and send via email to the performer.


As I said, we won’t be doing this every week, but we will do it in cycles. So, four people will sign up this round, which we’re calling the “Brave New Scratchers.” We’ll “scratch” their work, and a few weeks later they’ll come back with revisions. The next Scratch Night will be a “Showcase” of the work so everyone involved can see how it’s developed since undergoing the scratch process.


Be a Scratcher!


We have already assembled our first team, but please do come along and think about whether your work may benefit from this type of feedback -- or whether you just think it would be a blast! 


This is perfect for someone who is trying to develop a pamphlet, performance or manuscript. Aside from the cajones, the only other thing you’ll need is to commit to being there for your Scratch Cycle. As our Main CPCL Rule is “Don’t be a Dick,” I’m sure you’ll understand how dickish it would be to join a Scratch group and only show up to get feedback for your work. A commitment to your group’s entire Scratch cycle is absolutely required. 


Email us at the web site if you're interested in being in a Scratch Group. The experiment starts this coming Wednesday, and it may fail miserably, or it might work well enough that we can all create something really cool together. And remember: After our Scratch Hour, we’ll have our open mic as normal. 


See you guys in the CPCL Zoom Room!