An award-winning actor has launched a collective for performers and writers to work on their ideas.

Rising Phoenix Arts Collective hosts monthly sessions in Brighton where writers get to hear their scripts read aloud by a pool of actors in front of an audience who give feedback, known as scratch nights.

Actor Isabella McCarthy Sommerville launched the idea in October last year to bring an “affordable space for people to develop their work”.

The scratch nights are hosted in the Old Net Loft above Brighton Fishing Museum on the seafront.

“It’s a fun way to spend a weekday evening for everyone involved,” said Isabella.

 “The writers get to try out new ideas, the actors get to play with some fun material and the audience get the chance to provide feedback on the scripts. Brighton is brimming with talent - it’s always such a positive, creative night. Oh and it’s bring your own booze.

The Argus: The scratch nights are held monthlyThe scratch nights are held monthly (Image: Jonathan Somarib)

“I launched Rising Phoenix because I wanted to create a space to motivate, inspire and connect creatives. As an actor it’s always valuable when I get the chance to meet other creatives and even better when there’s the opportunity to share new ideas or develop new work.

“I wanted to create an affordable space locally for us to do that together.”

The next scratch night is on Thursday, April 26, at 7pm. Tickets cost £6.50 and can be booked online.

Rising Phoenix also has a collaboration with playwright Philip Ayckbourn starting on April 3.

It is a ten-week course which Isabella said is suitable for both beginners and experienced writers.

The Argus: Isabella McCarthy Sommerville launched Rising Phoenix in October last yearIsabella McCarthy Sommerville launched Rising Phoenix in October last year (Image: Natasha Merchant)

People will have the opportunity to develop a short script which could be selected for a performed reading by actors to an audience in Brighton. The course costs £150 for ten Wednesday evening sessions at the Old Net Loft.

“We’re delighted to have Philip Ayckbourn hosting his playwriting course with us. It’s the perfect chance to discover or rediscover the essential tools for writing plays," said Isabella.

“Philip’s wealth of experience as a playwright is so valuable. If you’ve been thinking about writing a play for a while but need a push in the right direction, make 2024 the year you do it.”

Isabella won an award with her performance in a show called Betsy: Wisdom of a Brighton Whore at Brighton Fringe in 2022. 

The show was set in 1800s Victorian Brighton and won the International Fringe Encore Award. She performed it in New York at Soho Playhouse NYC.

People interested in the scratch nights or playwrighting course can contact Isabella at