In August, a special series returned to Seattle. Now in its second year, The Scratch provided over two weeks of free shows, workshops, networking events, residencies, and the new Playwriting from Scratch: New Works Intensive for teen writers.
Founder and Artistic Director of The Scratch, Andrew Garrett grew up here and is a familiar face at Village Theatre, one of the PNW’s most reputable union theatres with a proven track record of championing new voices. After graduating from Syracuse University in acting and directing, he made NYC his home. With training and connections at the Araca Group, NYU, Roundabout Theatre Company, SPACE on Ryder Farm, and New York Theatre Workshop, it would have been easier to produce this series on the opposite coast. But Andrew said, “I wanted to serve the community with the greatest need. Seattle is full of creative energy and talent, but there haven’t been enough opportunities for writers to build a full body of new work, one that distinguishes our region as the artistic force it can be. Instead, writers with distinct, Pacific Northwest voices have had to look elsewhere for chances to develop their stories.”
With a mission of radical hospitality, Andrew and his team created a space where playwrights, composers, lyricists, and others could develop new works without the burden of producing. The Scratch fully supported and connected artists, giving them the time and resources to create.
The Dramatists Guild joined forces with The Scratch this year to host one of two speed-networking events, led by Scratch associate producer and Seattle DG Ambassador, Andrew Creech. The Scratch proactively reached out to artists with the message that even if they weren’t featured within the series, there was room for their voices and opportunities to belong.
The speed-networking event was completely filled within ninety-minutes of its announcement and a second event was already in place to make sure no one was left out. In three-minute segments, playwrights, directors, producers, actors, musicians, and designers paired up to see if they had that magical artistic “click.” Several collaborations and direct-hires have already been reported from this event.
One of the most important aspects of The Scratch was its fierce inclusivity, parity, and diversity. There were plays about being a mother when you’re nonbinary, rediscovering yourself when you were a triple threat who lost use of your legs, a pop operetta about relationships, the transcribed biography and folkloric tales of one of the last Nubians to live on their native land before it was flooded to build the Aswan Dam, rape on college campuses and the fanaticism surrounding Division I sports, the media’s violence on women’s bodies and the queer community, and many other fresh, exciting stories from the heart.
Introduced this year was the Playwriting from Scratch: New Works Intensive. Created and facilitated by Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako and Andrew Coopman, they worked with guest artists to support young writers as they created ten-minute plays. Professional directors and actors then rehearsed and performed the pieces within the series.
Andrew Garrett reflected, “Too often young writers are sidelined into educational programs that have no connection to professional artists. It was important to us that the Playwriting from Scratch participants had the opportunity to interact with all of the artists within the series. One writer is now creating her own version of the program at her high school, launching a playwriting program for middle schoolers.”
When asked about plans for The Scratch next year, he replied, “Sustainability, infrastructure and hospitality are our next focus. Going forward, we want to improve external communication so that every artist, especially those we aren’t able to work with, knows that we value them as a member of our community.”
If you would be interested in helping The Scratch grow, please visit TheScratch.org.
The Scratch: Seattle Workshop Series – Summer 2019 was led by Founder and Artistic Director: Andrew Garrett; and Associate Producers: Maddi Chancey, Andrew Lee Creech, Miss-Jay O’Leary, Kiki Abba, Matthew Lewis, Riley Gene, Chris Quilici, Andrew R. Coopman, and Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako. The series received additional support from partners: The Really Really Theatre Group, the Dramatists Guild of America, The Commonground, and director / producer Eddie DeHais.