SCRATCHES at the Arcola Theatre
Hello! We are Plain Heroines theatre company. We’re fundraising for our latest play, SCRATCHES, which transfers to the Arcola Theatre in November this year after a critically acclaimed run at VAULT Festival.
SCRATCHES at the Arcola Theatre
SCRATCHES at the Arcola Theatre
About the Show
SCRATCHES is a funny and honest new play about self-harm, best friends and recovery. It explores a serious subject, but the show itself is incredibly camp- think glitter curtain, cabaret, microphone and a fabulous bright purple suit.
“But although it’s a sad memory.
I always think of that.
Whenever I feel really alone.
Because I remember that you did see me.
And you followed me.
And I mattered to you.
And I wasn’t alone.
Because you saw me.”
Meet GIRL. For too long, she’s been hiding her scratches with unfashionably long socks, clever white lies and period pads. But now she and her fabulous (and scene stealing) BEST FRIEND are here to set the record straight.
SCRATCHES is a story of the events that shape us. It’s about self-harm, recovery and reaching out to friends. It’s about talking through the hard stuff, but with stand-up, cabaret, and confetti. So much confetti.
SCRATCHES transfers to the Arcola from a critically acclaimed run at VAULT Festival, where it was nominated for both an Offie and a VAULT Festival Award.
We’ve been developing the show since 2019- it’s gone through multiple zoom readings, re-drafts, workshop performances at the Jermyn Street Theatre, a cancelled VAULT Festival in 2021, and finally premiered at VAULT Festival 2023.
★★★★★ “…a gut-wrenching ode to youth, love, friendship, companionship and taking care of one’s mental health.” – The Upcoming
★★★★★ “Hysterically funny, raw, and brutally honest – Scratches is sensational” – Lost in Theatreland
★★★★ “…a female-led company which are not afraid to push at boundaries” – Lou Reviews
★★★★ “a highlight of this year’s Vault Festival” – All The Dazzles
Content warnings: suicide, self-injury.
Why We Made the Show
Self-harm is a problem affecting growing numbers of young people, but it’s also really hard to talk about, and is often compounded by shame and silence. SCRATCHES is all about opening up the conversation, coming at this difficult issue with humour, sensitivity and frankness, and getting people talking. The play doesn’t look for any artificial resolutions, but it does, importantly, end on a message of hope. In developing the show, we’ve become increasingly mindful of the sensitivity of the material, and have consulted multiple mental health charities, healthcare workers and Samaritan Guidelines to create work that is bold and ambitious, whilst still assuming a duty of care towards our audiences. Many dramatic depictions of self-harm aim to shock and sensationalise; we think our show is unique in deliberately avoiding this, and instead trying to foster understanding, empathy and a spirit of openness.
To accompany the show, and inspired by companies such as Clean Break, New Diorama and The Royal Court, we have also created an Audience Self-Care Guide. This includes a breakdown of the play, as well as links to charities, information and resources for those struggling with self harm, those supporting someone, or audiences who simply want to know more.
Who We Are
Plain Heroines is a female led theatre company who make funny plays about difficult subjects. Previous work includes January (White Bear Theatre), Three Days’ Time (Edinburgh Fringe) and Madwomen in the Attic (Edinburgh Fringe). The 4th Country (VAULT Festival and Park Theatre) was a finalist for the Charlie Hartill Award 2020. Our latest show, SCRATCHES, was nominated for an Offie Award and a Festival Award at VAULT Festival in 2023, and will transfer to the Arcola theatre in November.
"This is undoubtedly a company to watch out for" (WhatsOnStage)
Aoife Kennan: Writer and Performer
Aoife is the writer and performer of SCRATCHES. She was born in County Durham, studied English at Cambridge University and then trained as an actor at LAMDA. She was recently part of the Sky Comedy Rep, developing a new short comic play with Sky Comedy and the Birmingham Rep. She has also been part of the Royal Court Writers Programme and has developed work through Masterclass Script Sessions.
Performance work includes The 4th Country (Park Theatre); C-O-N-T-A-C-T (Aria Entertainment); Victoria (ITV), The Dumping Ground (CBBC), Vera (ITV) and the feature film, Blue Jean (BBC/BFI).
Follow her on Twitter @aoifekennan
Gabriella Bird: Director
Gabbie is the director of SCRATCHES. She is a London-based theatre director and dramaturg working in the UK. She trained with Katie Mitchell, as well as with the Young Vic Directors' Programme and was Apprentice at Guildford's Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in 2011-2012. From 2020-21 she was a Creative Associate at Jermyn Street Theatre and is currently working with the British Youth Opera. In 2016 she co-founded theatre company Plain Heroines whose recent productions SCRATCHES was nominated for an Offie and VAULT Festival award. Their premier production Madwomen in the Attic was shortlisted for the Eddies' Award, the NSDF award and was EdFringeReview's Critic's choice. As Associate Director she has worked both nationally and internationally at theatres including Sheffield Crucible, Theatre by the Lake, English Theatre Frankfurt, Deutsches Theater Munich and Jermyn Street Theatre.
Rachel Thomas: Producer
Rachel is freelance Actor, Producer, Writer, Theatre-maker & Dramaturg, trained on the MA course at East 15 Acting School and graduating with distinction. She is also Joint Artistic Director and Producer of 7th Sense Theatre, a new-writing company making 'class theatre, without the divide'. As a producer she was part of China Plate Theatre’s 2021-22 Optimists training scheme, and is part of the Young Vic Creatives Network. She specialises in supporting female and non-binary-led work and working with artists with additional needs, and also works as an access support worker and mental health activist, working with charities such as Mind, Young Minds, Time to Change, and Rethink.
Follow her on Twitter @rachellos
Where will the money go?
We were very lucky to receive Arts Council Funding for our VAULT run, but we now need to explore other routes for the Arcola. We are sending multiple grant applications to smaller funding bodies, but as we are not a charity we are ineligible for many larger grants.We are committed to making sustainable theatre, and are re-using our show materials where possible (purple suit and gold fringe curtain included). The money we raise now will go towards artist fees and marketing, to make sure our creatives are paid properly for their work, and the play reaches the audiences we think it deserves.
We are incredibly grateful for anything you’re able to give. If you’re not in a position to donate, but would still like to support the production, please share this page and we hope to see you at the show in November!