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Saturday, 28 January 2012

SHORT & SWEET WEEK 4 dissected by me

Last time I reviewed Short & Sweet (week 3) I seemed to bruise a few egos (ironic given that I thought I was being quite nice compared to how I have slaughtered some of the big guns). It all stems from the word ‘amateur’. Those people taking umbrage at the concept of being called amateur, can I remind you that the essential meaning of the word is to do something for love, not money? Almost all people involved in this community event are unpaid. The draw of being involved in Short & Sweet is to not only enjoy your moment in the light, maybe showcase your work or experiment in a non-threatening environment and to most importantly, celebrate the Arts in action.
Yay for you. Now get over yourselves. This is not a high stakes career move. Even the pro’s understand this is an amateur festival so don’t get offended if I continue to call it such. It doesn’t mean you won’t find talent on stage, it just means that it’s open to everyone and results may be inconsistent because of its open door policy. But isn’t that worth celebrating too? I have seen some people hop up who would never get a look in inside the industry and probably never seek to pursue it and I’m moved by their joy at having their moment on stage in front of family and friends.
Enough. Let’s look at week 4. This week stepped up the standard from last week. In fact when it came time to vote it was actually difficult to decide between 4 of them out of the 10 and the others were mostly solid pieces of work too. And in the spirit of inclusiveness, let me briefly cover some of the positives of each 10 minute play.
‘Shackles’ was a solid duo exploring the bond between sisters when the rest of your life has turned to crapola. ‘The Forgetting’ was played with risk in exploring the metaphor of the ‘fringe’, ‘Tis The Season’ was an energetic homage to ‘Cosi’, as was ‘Like a House on Fire’, an engaging monologue performed confidently by Erin McMullen, ‘Let Me In’ was a nice showcase of young talent with a brief committed cameo by Rita McCormack and ‘Dispatch’ was a thoughtful piece on life, love and death.
Special mentions go to the comic tropfest style piece ‘Three’s A Crowd’ whose tag paid dividends and ‘I’m Falling Through The Sky’ was another strong contender and delivered with skill and emotion by its cast Gael Ballantyne and Tessa Coulter.
But the highlights of the show for me were ‘Driving The Holden’ and ‘The Athiest’.
‘Driving The Holden’ created a world and backstory in its short time frame, developing dimensions in the relationship between the characters as their journey intertwines. It’s the sort of play you wish was longer. Special acknowledgement of Harley Connor’s performance of Eddie, whose magnetic presence and focus made this play enjoyable and engaging.
When ‘The Athiest’ started I thought it was going to be another sledgehammer of obvious tactics and stock characterisation so for this play to completely win me over is a credit to performers and directors (who are one and the same). The expressiveness, comic timing and clever concepts in writing were a great way to finish the night.
I am a real fan of the (amateur) Short & Sweet Festival. It is absolutely worth the Government Arts funding and it warms my cold, bitter (amateur) heart seeing all those (amateur) punters up there in one form or another having an (amateur) ball.
It’s the power of theatre and theatre for the people at its most inclusive (amateur) best.


  1. Seriously? It warms your heart that 1.7 million goes to this terrible terrible festival? How can you prefer that the government spends it's limited arts contribution here rather than any of the companies operating in Sydney, even those obsessed with grungy inarticulate young dudes and their Perspex boxes. By all means let S&S continue, by all means let them continue to charge hefty ticket prices if that's what the punters are willing to pay. But don't put our tax dollars to this. Participating in a 10 minute piece does not make you a writer, nor a director, nor an actor and I'm yet to see anything lasting or contributive to the
    arts come out of this thing. Incidentally, what car is Alex Broun driving these days?

  2. Looking/reading from the 'outside' of theatre, of Sydney, of priveleged bloggerville, you come across as a very self serving and nasty piece of work. You are not 'reviewing' work. You are getting off on being negative and destructive to a fragile and fledging industry.
    Show us what YOU can do missy, then I may believe your reviewing credentials.

    Time to lighten up and get a life, or are you just too too too?

  3. Oh Annie, shut up and lighten up.

    I'll have to agree with nimblefeingers86 on this one. Short and Sweet is the biggest waste of taxpayers' money in the history of wasteful spending.

    Why should we, as taxpayers, fund bullshit theatre mixed with some gems, when that company is funding itself with standard ticket prices? None of these actors are getting paid. It is disgusting that this festival receives money and I call for a citizen's arrest on Alex Broun

  4. I recently participated in Short and sweet and the festival is totally amateur. There are a few gems that shine through but majority of the plays are absolute rubbish. Lets be honest it is a festival where anyone can participate if they want to. The festivals artistic director in Sydney was Alex Broun for 10 odd years, and now Pete Malicki. Alex would have his own plays in the festival each year. Remember Alex hires and knows most of the judges in this so-called comp. Guess what folks Pete Malicki(New artictic director) also has has one of his plays in 2012 short and sweet. How can these guys really think this festival has any integrity when they have their own plays arein the fest. I betcha Alex's play makes the final this year- hes mates with all the judges! What a joke.

  5. Did you catch Week 5? would love to hear your opinion on it.
    btw, I'm a different anonymous than the two posting above.

    1. No, didn't see it unfortunately. I just ran out of time. Who knew when I reviewed it that it would open such a can of worms!

      Love the debate though.

  6. Yep, this so-called "festival" is a sham. The so-called "artistic directors" routinely have their awful efforts included. There is very little integrity in any of it.

    This review of Melbourne's S&S Fest last year is pretty much spot-on

    If people really want a shot at being involved in theatre, be it on or off-stage, put on your own show or be part of an amateur company - at least any money from ticket sales will be put to good use.

  7. Infact I did catch Week 5. That was an exceptional week of good plays. But very rare.

    I just don't understand how the production Manager(Luke) and festival directors (Past and present)can put their own plays in the festival that is a competition??

    Can anyone explain to me how they get away with it in the media? Why is everyone afraid to complain about it? And of course how do they get all this funding when this sort of rubbish is going on??

  8. Oh my goodness, get over it people. Jane, I like you. Keep up the (amateur) reviewing :)

  9. Umm ... I drive a 14 year old Holden Barina. Cost me $2,500 but it goes pretty well. Good on petrol. And happy to do the Citizen's Arrest. Can you organise it`? Might be good publicity for my next show, which is costing me a bomb. PS: None of the funding went to Short+Sweet Sydney. It was all for regional Short+Sweets. Have a nice day.