The Short + Sweet Theatre Festival Gala Final is the culmination of 180 short plays and 12 weeks of performances boiled down into the top 12 plays battling for the top spot. Over two nights the plays are performed, judged for the last time, and then awarded on the final night of the festival. It’s in this final week that the spirit of the festival is at its most potent and the stage positively buzzes with excitement.
Night Writes has been following the 2019 festival with reviews for Week Two and Week Five (Women’s Week). Letting Billy, a story about a young man calling his lover after a difficult night, and Margot’s Bench, a monologue of a woman who pushed her husband off a cliff, were the winners of their respective weeks and were re-performed for the Gala Final.
The huge range of the Short + Sweet plays exemplifies the breadth of inspirational material available in the world and the sheer number of stories to be told. The Gala Finals had love stories, a job interview, theatre satire, a driving lesson, and a few critiques of the modern world. The majority of plays focused on humour like The Audition, written by Steven Otfinoski and directed by Kathleen Hrayssi, where the auditioner (Trey Daniels) is surprised to learn his auditionee (Bob Deacon) only plays “off-stage” roles, ie characters who never appear on stage, or True to You, written by Nicky Denovan and directed by Harriet Hope Streeter, where two people (Streeter and Sebastien Scott) find true understanding for their social “superpowers” on an awkward date.
Other comedic favourites included Riding the Clutch, written by Sally Bartley and directed by Sebastien Scott, which sees a mother (Lynda Leavers) and daughter (Genevieve Evans) discovering a lot more about each other than they bargained for on a routine driving lesson and The Hold Up from Blemish Productions, which offered a very humorous glimpse into the life of a super observant convenience store owner (Michael Urbhein).
But not every performance was looking for laughs, particularly a very touching and well structured piece by Paul Bowman titled A Soldier’s Testimony, directed by Dany Akbar, which captured a moment of connection and understanding between soldiers (Russell Cronin and Arshia Aryan) in the Middle East.
The spirit of Short + Sweet where everyone is given an opportunity to try their hand at writing, directing, and acting in a short theatre piece with an added bit of healthy competition, creates a palpable community atmosphere in the room. The mix of excitement, experimentation, and, at the heart of it, a love of storytelling is what makes the festival a great space to participate in, even as an audience member.
The final performances and the Gala Final Awards for the 2019 Short + Sweet Theatre Festival will run at Tom Mann Theatre on April 28th. For more information about the competition and the winners, please visit the festival’s website.