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Interview with Scratchworks Theatre

Interview with Scratchworks Theatre
posted 25 Sep 2019

Scratchworks Theatre Company returns to the Guildhall Arts Centre

After bringing Great Train Robbery to Grantham in February this year, the company returns with 'Part 2' of their historical comedy trilogy.

Alice Higginson-Clarke, Co-Artistic Director of Scratchworks tells us more about their show, WOMANS (Like Romans, but with a ‘W’) performing Thursday 3 October

Why did you choose Ancient Rome as the setting for the show? 

We are an all-female theatre company but we love exploring male-dominated genres & stories traditionally told by men. We’ve done heists, arctic exploration and now, Ancient Rome. 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?!

So what did women get up to in Ancient Rome then? 

Our research into Roman women didn’t lead us very far: cloth-making & home-keeping mostly. At the other end of the spectrum, we found – probably the most famous & most powerful female player in Rome – Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt. But we found nothing much in the middle. 

Then we discovered the Vestal Virgins – a holy order of six women, selected during childhood for a prestigious life guarding the sacred fire of Ancient Rome. At this point in our research we all got very excited....

What if one of the Vestals got distracted one day & the fire went out, plunging Rome into chaos? Is that the beginning of her story? 

Is WOMANS (Like Romans, but with a ‘W’) based on a true story? 

YES and no! We loved researching the facts, but also making up our own version of history too. A woman like Leta could certainly have existed, but would anyone remember her?

'Damnatio Memoriae' is the Latin name for a terrible Roman punishment. Traitors would not only be killed, but 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. 

Our show follows the story of ex-Vestal, rebel leader & all-round bad-ass Leta Luteus (most certainly a traitor of Ancient Rome!). 

Leta was sentenced to Damnatio Memoriae, so just because she can’t be found in the history books, doesn’t mean she didn’t exist……

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