Short + Sweet is a theatre festival made up of plays that are less than 10 minutes long. There are 4 showings, each with 10 plays. Plays 1-10 and 21-30 run for 5 nights each; plays 11-20 and 31-40 make up the Wildcard shows which only get a single showing. There’s a Grand Finale on the last night of the festival with the favourite 10 plays getting a shot at the title. The finalists are chosen by votes. Audience members get to choose a single play from the ten. Super special judges get to choose three.
If you’ve read a short story or seen a lightning talk then you will have some idea how it works. It’s amazing what the writers, directors and actors can pack into less than 10 minutes. (I didn’t have a stop watch so I don’t know if they all squeaked in under the deadline. FYI – plays can be disqualified on the final night if they’re over time.)
I’m interested in how the organisers decide to schedule the plays. Do they make the directors pull their place out of a hat? The play I voted for in Week Two benefitted by being scheduled after a particularly dark and nasty one. It was almost as if the audience were ready to laugh at anything. “He’s wearing a red shirt! HAHAHAHAHA.” If it had come after one of the other, lighter, plays I’m not sure it would have had the impact. (I really did like it though. Even on reflection it’s my favourite for that set.) I made my choices based on plays that I wanted to watch again. In fact, I didn’t vote for my favourite play in Week One; it was third on my list on the night. I found it very affecting. Laughing one minute and having my heart strings tugged the next. Why didn’t I vote for it? I think it’s because I couldn’t bear to watch it again knowing where it ends up.
There were five plays I thought could be extended out into long form. I wanted to know more about the characters. My favourite from those five was “The Mooncake and the Kumara”. It’s about a Chinese man who had come to New Zealand leaving his wife behind and the relationship that was blossoming between him and a Maori girl. I really liked the use of different languages and the way the story was shown from their different points of view.
To be quite honest I’m also curious as to why it came to Auckland and not Wellington. It seems like something that would do really well down there. Not that I’m complaining. It was a fun night and I’ll be looking out for it next year.
Tip: Don’t take your children under 15. Especially if you are going to talk to them everytime an actor uses a swear word.