IPG Scratches

by Phil Baarda

IPG?  No… it's not the latest fashionable medical condition, but a nearly-funky acronym for the sober-sounding 'Inverness Playwriting Group'.  We're a loose collective of Highlands' based drama writers of all kinds who have been regularly getting together over the last several years.  Apart from posing as hipster scribblers, we also chat and discuss each other's work-in-progress, and offer supportive feedback, see shows, and generally talk theatre and the crafty craft of playwriting.

There's more, though - we also run workshops and events, and have managed to persuade or otherwise blag various theatricals to share their creative minds.  We've been very fortunate to get excellent people like Jo Clifford, Douglas Maxwell, Clare Duffy, Colin Macdonald, Matthew Zajac, and lots more.  It never fails to amaze and humble me how generous big people are with their time and insights to little people like us.  Thanks guys - past, present and future - you're amazing!  Thanks too, to the Scottish Book Trust's live literature scheme that has part-funded some of our activities in the past and currently.

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But, there's even more…  this being us hosting monthly Scratch nights where writer-performers or local actors read our short plays and excerpts, script-in-hand, to a gathering of supportive people - where feedback, audience interaction, and critical encouragement is, if not nearly obligatory, then definitely and warmly welcomed.

Not only have we found this to be great fun, and entertaining, but - as many reading this will appreciate - it significantly helps the writer in his or her artistry.  There's nothing like hearing and seeing the written word being propelled off the page, and interact with an audience.

It's all-round-excellent, and dare I say a win-win…?  It's good for the writers; it's good for the actors (many of whom are students from Inverness College's drama course); the audience enjoys it; and it keeps everyone else involved off the streets. 

We've got to thank Eden Court who generously allows us space for all of this to happen - for free (thanks guys!).  We're usually in the grandiose - albeit chilly - old chapel in the Bishop's Palace part of Eden Court; which gives a certain gravitas and idiosyncrasy to our whole proceedings - and sometimes even sporadic sobriety and reverence. 

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Next steps? We're aiming to set up a regular programme of rehearsed readings of full-length plays, and are looking at funding to enable this to happen.  Are there any excellent actors and directors out there who would like to collaborate?  How about any flush philanthropists…?  Also, we're conscious that our activities to date have been Inverness-centric so we're looking at doing Scratch nights, readings, and a workshopped retreat or two - with tutors - up in the north, over on the west coast, and possibly elsewhere.  Watch out - we might be coming to somewhere close to you…

Without enthusiastic and talented people, we couldn't do any of this.  We've a mailing list of around 70, with a hardcore of around 20 who are regulars - I use 'hardcore' rather than 'hard core' to improve this blog's hit-rate - and we're always keen to welcome new faces, and new voices, so please get in touch.  Even if you're simply passing through….

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So - if you're interested in the Inverness Playwrights, or have something you want to submit to a Scratch night, or you have some skills and enthusiasm to contribute, or want to act, or you're a big person who would like to give a talk or workshop to us little people, or you simply want to come along and listen, please get in touch with me ( philbaarda 'at' hotmail.com  )

Dedicated social media?  Ah… that's, erm, under development… though check out #IPGScratch for now.  Don't worry - so far there have been no inadvertent medical-related hashtag clashes…

Written by Phil Baarda at 00:00

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