Sydney’s short play festival, Short + Sweet, is reaching its climax this weekend with two gala finals on March 21 and 22 at the Seymour Centre York Theatre.
Now in its 13th year, the festival has spread to 40 other cities including Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra, and overseas to Singapore, Auckland, Malaysia, the Philippines and five cities in India. Later this year it will also be held in Hobart.
This year the Sydney short play festival has also held a combined festival season of theatre, dance and cabaret explained festival director Peter Malicki.
“We have done that in Melbourne for a few years holding all three festivals at the same time and it was hugely successful so we decided to try it in Sydney. It has been very well received,” he said.
“We saw a cross pollination between the people involved in each of the festivals: we had people who had been involved in theatre for years deciding to give cabaret a go and vice versa.”
Asked which show punters should choose Malicki said “both”.
“But if you absolutely had to make just one choice, come to the Saturday show because that will give you a broad view of the festival program: four performances from each festival.”
On Friday March 21 the best of Short+Sweet plays go head to head: the top 12 from more than 160 performed (chosen from over 1000 entries), inlcude the judges’ choices from the Top 80 and Wildcards seasons and the People’s Choice winners.
On Saturday March 22 Sydney’s first ever Short+Sweet Variety Gala will be held at the same venue, showcasing the 12 best plays, dance acts and cabaret pieces from all three recent festivals.
Theatre Gala Final – Friday, March 21 at 7.30pm
Some Other Toy – the judges’ choice in week 1 is written and directed by Sydney’s Fleur Beaupert. When Naomi (Alice Furze) loses a sex toy in a private place, she turns to a call centre run by robots for help. Enter Kylie (Kim Do) in this futuristic sexy comedy.
What a Damned Fine Morning It Is (aka the Suburban Penis-Envy Fugue), the winner of Week 2, stars Sam Dugmore and David McLean as two neighbours with deep-seated resentments lurking beneath the pleasant suburban façade. Stephanie Merriman directs Trace Crawford’s hilarious script.
Moonage Daydream, winner of Week 3, written by Vee Malnar and directed by Tom Richards, sees a happily married couple having a nostalgic night out at a rock concert. But when they can’t find the car, the good times are soon forgotten. Greg Wilken and Lynda Leavers star.
Nana, winner from Week 4, written by Micah Joel and directed by Tom Richards, is a darkly funny play about love, loss and sexuality in older age. Ros Richards and Donny Muntz act their sox off in this delightful comedy.
Wild Flowers won, the judges’ pick in Week 5 won Short+Sweet Brisbane last year. Co-written by Rebecka Harrington, Mindy Fyfe and Alexandra Hines who also directs and stars Alex alongside Lauren O’Rourke and Alice de Groot in an unconventional lesson in social graces.
Blabbermouth, winner of Week 6, written by Cerise de Gelder (Victoria) and directed by Lewis Scamozzi, tells the tale of how a lonely man’s evening with a prostitute is interrupted by the arrival of the woman’s husband. Nat Backhouse, Rosemary Ghazi and Jeremy Burtenshaw star.
Level 2, winner of Week 7, wis ritten by Mike McRae and directed by 2013 festival Best Director James Hartley. “You are the project. They are the panel. Will you receive Level 2 clearances?” Bendeguz Devenyi-Botos, Marie Chanel, Ellen Williams and Tom Green star in this quirky futuristic comedy.
Late for School, winner of Week 8, is a powerful monologue by Iain Moss with Lisa Eismen directing. Patricia Rowling is in the role of a young teacher under intense interrogation for a crime she had no idea she committed. She was only late for school…
Guided by Voices by Mark Konik (ACT) and Therapist by John Lombard (ACT) are the People’s Choice joint-winners, chosen by audience vote throughout the festival and the special Showcase week. Konik’s quirky piece is about an attractive marketer whose inner voice takes over when he meets a cute chemist. Florence Kermet directs Kat Hoyos, Jamie Merendino and Nat Jobe. Lombard’s play delves into the doctor-patient relationship and stars Richard Carwin and Rowena McNichol. Rob and Leah White direct.
Winner of the Wildcard’s final for a spot in the Gala is The Blue Balloon by Angie Farrow, directed by Cecile Payet; watch how a balloon affects a whole city. The audience favourite chosen from the Wildcards finals is Stalemate, a story about a chef being inappropriate with food; it is written by Sally Davies with John Wood directing.
Variety Gala – March 22
Saturday’s show is the festival’s true party piece. Short+Sweet presents 12 of the best from its 2014 theatre, cabaret and dance festivals -and then presents awards.
Harry and Liv are a brother and sister sharing a small inner-west apartment with a grand piano. This slice-of-life comedy cabaret piece (performed by real-life siblings Evan and Charlotte Kerr) pokes fun at family, friendship and the challenges of living an artistic life in the big city.
In Curtains, Meredith O’Reilly plumbs her more than 30 years in the entertainment business for her funny, musical journey through the shows that stopped, flopped or never got off the ground. Meredith spills the beans in songs and stories that prove, in showbiz, fact is often stranger than fiction.
In Dance With De Vil by Jared Jekyll, Brendan Hay creates playboy from Hell – Cruello de Vil – the insane only son of that most notorious villainess, socialite and fashionista Cruella de Vil. Freshly released from the dungeons, he sings about mummy and fur coats.
Irene Nicola’s A (Bit of a) Postmodern Striptease – a light-hearted, sexy ‘lecture’ in performance theory and psychoanalysis – asks the BIG philosophical questions like “Once all the masks are off, are we still performing?”
From the dance festival is featured Nyunga indigenous choreographer Thomas Kelly’s piece about our dependency on the star, while exploring the characteristics of our major life source, the sun, through science, culture and beautiful physicality. He joins other dancers Taree and Caleena Sansbury and Phil Dean Walford.
Newcastle artist Hayley Raw’s solo piece No, I Would Never is about that devilish voice in your head that leads you astray. The contemporary dance was inspired by anonymous recorded confessions about moments in time where first reactions to various situations are just wrong.
Eccentric and irrestible, Sink or Swim, choreographed by Natalie Pelarek, is performed by the bLank sLate collective: Cersha Lie Burn, Ashleigh Golding, Laura Jackson, Renelle Loretta Jones and Ashleigh Woodlands.
Finally, the Dance Makers’ Collective’s Natasha Crane’s huge group piece (25 dancers!) Swingdancin’ is pure enjoyment: an infectious 7-minute blend of classic and modern music from swing, jazz and hip-hop to Fosse, Charleston and jitterbug. This is the feel-good finale you won’t want to miss.
From the theatre festival comes the hilarious tour-de-force by Melbourne performer Rajendra Moodley, Is It Because I’m Indian?
Indignitas by Jonathan Skinner (UK) is set in a futuristic euthanasia clinic where Foster (Martin Portus) offers to give up his life so his children can get a free education and a step up the housing ladder. But the doctor (Charlotte Connor) has a few final questions. Rosemary Ghazi directs.
In Dust and Shadows by Maryanne Jaques a dashing young Captain’s career balloons; so too does his ego. He learns to rely on the wisdom of one of his soldiers or be destroyed by his own pride. Robert Brennen directs Barry Walsh, Jessica Lawrence, Juan Lorenzo Suarez Camacho, Elizabeth Silk, Katie Lees & Jessie Hanlon.
Finally, Charity Case by Sydney’s Ruth Fingret puts the spotlight on homelessness when a well-meaning woman with ‘all the answers’ approaches a cantankerous bird lady. The last thing either expect is to find their common humanity. Christine Greenough and Sandra Campbell star, with the writer directing.
Short+Sweet Sydney Galas – Seymour Centre York Theatre
Theatre Gala Final: Fri 21 March, 7:30pm
Variety Gala Sat 22 March, 7:30pm (details over)
Tickets $45/$37.50 Bookings www.seymourcentre.com or 9351 7940