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WOMANS (Like Romans, but with a W)

17th February, 2020

We recently caught up ith Scratchwork's co-artistic director Alice Higginson-Clarke to find out all about their new exciting production!


Where did the idea for WOMANS come from and how did it develop? Were there inspirations?

We are an all-female theatre company but we love exploring male-dominated genres & stories traditionally told by men. If you look back through the annals of comedy you’ll find Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Frankie Howerd’s Up Pompeii! and ITV’s Plebs of 2013, but there’s very little which tells the female stories of Ancient Rome. Why not?!

Then we came across “Damnatio Memoriae”: the Latin name for a terrible punishment for traitors of the Roman Senate. Not only would a traitor be killed, they would also be erased from living memory. Any evidence of the person would be torn down, burned or destroyed – sculptures, paintings & all documents. Not a single trace would be left.

So maybe that’s why there’s such a limited history of Roman women…

At the heart of the show is the forgotten women of history. Around the time we were making WOMANS, Sandi Toksvig was working on a campaign about tackling sexism on Wikipedia. She pledged to “rewrite history” so more women and their stories appear on the site.

All very inspiring!

You’ve obviously found a formula that works really well. What kind of changes do you envisage in the future?

Scratchworks is a collaborative theatre company of three women making original shows from scratch. We love telling stories and enjoy using inventive methods to do it!

With each new show we give ourselves a new challenge… We are currently learning magic for our latest project (still in rehearsals at the moment). In the past, we’ve learned foley artistry (the making of sound effects) and live science experiments for kids!  

We’re also branching out to work with new collaborators on each new project to help us learn these new skills to a high standard and bring new aspects to our work.  

But at the same time, we love doing what we do best which is making small-scale touring shows which use virtually no set, props or technical tricks. It’s just us, our silly characters, comedic choreography and live music to tell our stories.

Your shows are clearly great fun to make and very entertaining, but is there a deadly serious core to them?

I would say our main aim is to give our audiences a really enjoyable night at the theatre. All our shows have an important message but I wouldn’t say deadly serious! After all, we believe the best way to get your audiences thinking about something is to make them laugh first. As an all-female company, we are passionate about women’s stories and we hope to show positive, comedic & bad-ass female role models for the younger audience members. Our ethos is all about joy, imagination, silliness, collaboration and inclusion. We hope every one of our shows stands firmly for those ideas!

How important is original music to Scatchworks’ shows?

Our creation of original music has developed hugely over the last 6 years as a company. We started out with a little bit of acoustic guitar instrumental in our first show. Now we are working with a full-on composer and basically writing a magic-based musical for 2020! How things have changed!

Once we realised we could write a catchy tune to aid our storytelling, it has become integral to our theatre-making process. We do a lot of acapella singing and harmonies because it means we can add a soundtrack to a scene without having to worry about instruments. We also keep it really playful and love a comedy song – musical pauses can be great for punchlines!

James Haddrell says you’re one of his favourite young companies. Is Greenwich Theatre special to you all?

We love coming to Greenwich! Although we are an Exeter-based company, I actually grew up just down the road and went to school in Lewisham so it feels like home turf for me.

This will be our fourth show we’ve brought to Greenwich Theatre and we hope to return with the newest show once it’s finished too!

It’s great to build an audience over the years and start to gently develop a following of people who come to see each new creation. Greenwich Theatre has a brilliant reputation for supporting emerging talent and allowing companies to showcase their work on a prestigious London stage. Thanks for having us back ????

WOMANS plays from 10-11 March. Find out more and book tickets here.