What can you get done in ten minutes? SHORT + SWEET puts your ten minute conquests to shame, boasting self-contained ten minute plays to delight, provoke, and entertain. The massive theatre festival dedicated to short plays is hitting Canberra once again. Squeezing a handful of short plays into one night is no mean feat, and at the helm of the Canberra run is Jarrad West. “This is my first time putting the whole shebang together,” chirps the festival director, less than a week before opening night. “We’ve had something like 500 plays submitted worldwide for the entrance of this year’s festival, and I’ve got 17 of them to play with this time. It’s been really good, finding out about those writers in the ACT, and we’ve got some from the USA – it’s quite a big thing, just a small context here in Canberra.”
17 plays will be performed over a tight two week run, with all the action kicking off in early September. With no overarching theme or other constrictions, “the only condition for a Short + Sweet play is that it has to be less that than ten minutes. Unfortunately there’s no interlinking theme between any of the shows because they’re all coming from such different places around the world,” Jarrad expains. “I guess I just tried to pick a nice balance between those that are quite serious and a little bit disturbing, and the hilariously funny.”
Although a handful of the plays are penned by ACT locals, West says that the “plays are all slightly universal, in terms that they can be performed anywhere and still be understood. You’re not going to find anything set in Hackett. Maybe you could assume it’s set in Hackett, I don’t know, it depends on what the directors are doing with it.”
The experience of those involved in this year’s Short + Sweet varies. “There’s this collaborative kind of thing that goes on. I’ve got some old-hands that are directing and doing a couple of plays. I’ve also got some new people who have never directed before but have always thought that they might want to give it a go, so they’re sort of getting up and having a go for the first time. They may have been an actor or they have been a writer in previous years but now they’re kind of stepping behind the notepad and pen and taking notes… We’re getting a spread from all sections of the acting and dramatic community.” With such a diverse array of subjects and styles showcased over the course of the two weeks, the best thing for curious audiences is to expect the unexpected. “We range from kidnapping in Somalia to genital decoration,” laughs West. “We cover the whole gamut.”
Short + Sweet is running at The Canberra Theatre from Wednesday August 31 to Saturday September 10. Tickets are $25/$20 concession, and are available through www.canberratheatrecentre.com.au .