Live 3 from Barrel Organ

As part of Barrel Organ’s stay at the Royal Exchange with ‘Some People Talk About Violence’, they also presented a live scratch night ‘for experimental and non-traditional work that specifically acknowledges the presence of the audience and plays with the ‘liveness’ of theatre’.

The thing about scratch nights is that they are an invaluable way for performers to try out new material and new techniques, in this case with strong interaction with the audience.  But they can be equally rewarding for the audience, offering the chance to experience something new and to give feedback.

So tonight we had six performances:

  • Louisa Claughton (and then we danced) encouraged audience members to get to know each other, and then dance together, without exchanging any words.
  • Charlie Hammond (the blah blah man show) used interactive techniques to question the role of man, specifically to play with the idea of the alpha male in the room.  Involved throwing paper.
  • Joseph Hancock & Kirsty Harris (the bargain bucket list) used the audience to create the environment to live out a shoestring bucket list, including the audience as the sea.
  • Sam Redway (?) performed a dialogue made up only of questions, asking the audience to create their unique scenario in their minds.
  • James Varney (haha ghosts lol) performed a piece of theatre where the original performers are absent.
  • Josh Coates (bring me their heads) started a conversation with the audience about what matters in our lives, and let the audience finish it ourselves.

Some worked better than others, but many were thought provoking, and effectively explored how the audience can be a greater part of the performance.  Some of the ideas and techniques will ultimately  be developed into new theatre.  But that’s the point of a scratch night; it’s a safe environment to try something new.  It’s great to see new ideas being tried out, and with audience feedback there’s more scope to find a way to make them work.

Barrel Organ bring ‘Some People Talk About Violence’ to the Royal Exchange from 17 – 19 November.


Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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