Scratch night how to: our top 5 tips

Our first Brighton Scratch night at The Marlborough Theatre last week went really well. We had a lovely audience, a great selection of work, and the artists got useful feedback. This will definitely become a regular event in our calendar.

We hadn’t run a scratch night before this one, and there were a lot of things we had to consider (or that we didn’t consider but will next time!). So, to help out any of you who’re planning a scratch night in the future we want to give you some advice. Here’s our list of the top 5 things to think about when planning your scratch night.

The Top 5 things to think about when planning your scratch night

Clown Funeral receiving feedback on stage at Witness Theatre's Brighton Scratch night 16th November 2016.
Clown Funeral receive feedback.

1.The feedback process.

This was really important for us and one of the first things we started thinking about when planning our night. A scratch night is only as useful as the feedback the artists get from the audience. Our event used the Critical Response Process developed by Liz Lerman to structure the feedback (post on this to come soon). You can structure the feedback however you want, or not at all. Some key things to consider are: what do the artists want to get from the feedback? Do they have specific questions, or are they happy for an open discussion with the audience? Might it be good to give the audience the chance to give non-verbal feedback?


Is it important to you that the venue you run your scratch night in is wheelchair accessible? Embarrassingly this wasn’t something we took into consideration before choosing our venue. Only when a wheelchair user emailed to ask if the night would be accessible did we actively think about this. Unfortunately the Marlborough Theatre isn’t accessible at present. We now plan to consider accessibility for every event we plan in future and to run events in accessible venues wherever possible. Lesson learned.

3. Ticket prices. 

Ask yourself why you’re running the scratch night. Is it to raise money for your company, or is it to provide a platform for yourselves and other artists to share new work? For us it was about nurturing other artists. Raising money was a factor, but a secondary one. We chose a Pay As You Feel set up and that worked really well. If making money is more of a factor for you, consider how much you want to charge your audience. You don’t want money to be a barrier to people taking a risk on new work, we recommend no higher than £5 per ticket.

4. Programming. 

Don’t forget that by running a scratch night you are programming an evening of entertainment. You want the audience to feel satisfied with the range of work they’ve seen. You might want to consider setting a theme for the evening, so people apply with work that fits that theme. We didn’t do this, but we chose work that we felt linked well thematically and our audience really valued this.

5. Liaising with the venue. 

It’s easy to think of a scratch night as something that will come together on the day and doesn’t require much planning beforehand. But, it’s well worth your time to make sure you check in regularly with the venue and communicate your needs for the day.

Find out what technical support you’ll be given, if any. Who will be around to offer any help on the day? Will         someone be running your box office? Also make sure you check what needs the artists have. Are they expecting you to provide any technical equipment or simple set pieces? Make sure the venue has anything you need so you aren’t running around trying to find a microphone or a table on the day!

 Find out when you can have access to the space from and get there as soon as you can. We had 3 performances        of 15 minutes each, and spent a good 6 hours setting up the space and sorting out technical aspects of their               pieces.

Let us know your experiences

Have you run a scratch night before? How did it go, and what are your top 5 tips for anyone thinking of running one?  



Scratch Night in Brighton Artist Callout

Exciting news

We are launching our first Brighton scratch night at the lovely Marlborough Theatre in November and we’re so excited. The event is happening on Wednesday 16th November so be sure to save the date! It’s a supportive platform for artists to share or ‘scratch’ new work in development. A space that is open and friendly. Designed to be helpful for the artists in the continued development of their work.

We set up this scratch night as a way for artists to meet and support each other. We’re also keen to get local audiences engaged in the developmental stages of new work. We’re really looking forward to working with the Marlborough Theatre again. They supported our very first project ‘The Darkroom’ back in 2011/2012. It’ll be like returning home!

Artist Callout

We are currently looking for artists and companies to apply with pieces of no longer than 15 minutes  to be presented at this first scratch night. We’re looking for work for adult audiences, and as a company we have an interest in contemporary theatre and performance from a diverse range of practices and approaches.

If you have a new idea you’re working on and are at the stage where it needs a supportive audience and some feedback, then we’d love to hear from you.

To apply please fill in this online form (link below) by 5pm Wednesday 12th October 2016. You’ll be asked to tell us about yourself, the work you want to present and why this scratch will be useful to you.

If you experience any difficulty with the form or have any questions about the event please email us at

We’re looking forward to reading your applications! If you aren’t applying to take part then we’d love to have you along in the audience to support the artists. You can pay what you feel for this event but you will need a ticket. You can get yourself a ticket through the Marlborough Theatre website.