THE Short+Sweet festival, “the biggest little play festival in the world”, is due to hit town at the end of the month and, for the third time running, we have our own version, with actor-director Jarrad West as Canberra’s artistic director.
Now in its 10th year, more than 700 plays were submitted this year – from Melbourne, Newcastle, Geelong and Griffith, Singapore, Malaysia, India, the Philippines and NZ.
Luckily for West, the script manager at Short+Sweet’s head office in Sydney, Peter Malicki, and his committee handed him just the top 30 to select from.
He’s tried for a balance between plays from the ACT and elsewhere to ensure the festival will be “neither local nor foreign”. But all the directors are Canberrans, so it’s sort of local.
“It’s such a subjective thing,” West tells me. “There were some things that I thought were strong, but the directors who applied weren’t interested in them.”
Oddly, in the end he believes, because of the number of people involved in the process, it became “quite subjective”.
After a certain amount of haggling, the top 17 plays, ranging from comedy to drama, will run over two weeks, a modest affair compared to Sydney, where it will run for six weeks.
At first glimpse there’s a cronyistic element to the selections. Both Malicki and his predecessor as script manager, Alex Broun, will have plays staged by Ruth Pieloor (a selected playwright last year) and ACT theatre veteran Liz Bradley. Canberra’s Duncan Driver will direct a play from Victoria, then Jordan Best will direct a play, written by the two Duncans, Driver and Ley.
There’s a sense that the 10-minute play is becoming a rather serious business, so it’s good to report that Burgmann Anglican College, winner of the under-18s festival Fast+Fresh will have its play performed, too.
“Short+Sweet”, Courtyard Studio, August 31-September 3 and September 7-10. Bookings to 6275 2700 or canberratheatrecentre.com.au