One-Act Play Festival 2013


One-Act Play Festival

The 3 Finalists of the National One-Act Playwriting Competition 2013

 Noosa Arts Theatre

30th May – 15th June 2013


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


Do you ever wonder how the three final plays are selected?


Since 1993 there’s been a reading panel, made up of Noosa Arts members, experienced in various theatrical areas, which wades through the scripts over many months. The panel this year comprised Sue Clapham, George Courtney, Stephen Moore, Liza Park, Natasha Riley, Stephen Taaffe and Johanna Wallace.


It’s a wonder we haven’t all been on the reading panel for this competition. You would think these guys would get tired of reading script after script year after year – this year there were 99 new texts entered – and that a new panel each year would be happy to take on the challenge of selecting three finalists. The thing is, there are obviously HOURS AND HOURS OF READING AND DISCUSSION INVOLVED. Do you have time to volunteer? No, nor do I. So, like many others, I’m grateful to those who put up their hand to do the job, and to watch the end result. It’s no good criticising that result – and by that I mean the standard of the final three chosen – if you’re not prepared to do the reading and play an active part in the decision making process. If we haven’t read all of the plays we have to trust the opinions of those who have. Just saying.


Having said that, this year’s finalists offer pretty standard plays, pretty similar to the plays we see in this competition each year, which could easily be staged by community theatre groups everywhere. They are mostly unpublished playwrights and this is, I suspect, the (commercial) reality of the competition. And why not? Writers want to be published, don’t they? Playwrights want their plays performed? By anyone, anywhere? Is that it? So where are they? Oh right, this year there were the 99 submissions…fantastic! But are there others? Are there better plays out there than those we’re getting in this competition? Who are the playwrights who are not submitting? And can we really be so critical of a competition – a truly international competition, with entries from New Zealand, Ireland, Dubai, USA and UK – that attracts 99 plays, sell-out audiences, and gives local directors and actors an opportunity to work on their craft? There’s been a lot of discussion again lately across social media and the blogosphere, wondering where our new playwrights are. Well, here are three of them, according to one panel’s opinion, from the selection entered.


The competition is to foster and encourage playwrights, whether amateur or professional, so if you think you can compete, download an entry form and put your play up to be judged against others who are putting themselves out there, on plot, characterisation, dialogue and overall achievement.


Also, it must be said, what an incredible job convenors, Synda Turnbull and (for the last three years) Susan Dearnley, have done. Our congrats and appreciation as they finish up with the festival this year.


And what of the plays? Let us know what you think too, in the comments section below. It’s opening night tonight and the season continues until Saturday June 15th! Chookas, all!


Distinguished Guest

Distinguished Guest. Image by Andrew Seymour.

Distinguished Guest

by Richard Harris

John McMahon, as Director of Distinguished Guest, decided to step into the role of Hastings when another actor was unable to continue in the role and he does a fine job of it. The plot provides a nice twist, and although some will see it from a mile away, it’s a fun ride that gets us there. Yvie Somerville & Tim Murfin are delightful, and show their ease on stage, their experience in the theatre and a genuine connection on stage. These two recently worked together in David Williamson’s Travelling North. (I know. I was there. I played one of the daughters.), and a similar ease and expertise comes across in their roles as the owners of a remote B&B in the Peak District of Derbyshire.


This play lacks a little pace, but I’m sure it will pick up, as the text demands.


Direct Pressure

Direct Pressure. Image by Andrew Seymour.

Direct Pressure

by Nicola Bradbury

This is the real drama of the three, but there are some surprisingly light moments within a script that allows scope for the actors and director (Sue Clapham) to play. Jenni McCaul shows she’s up for the challenge. Jenni’s performance is stellar, showing a blunt sense of humour within a spectrum of solid character choices that makes her a standout in the line-up of local talent featured this year. I’d be surprised if audiences can sit unaffected throughout Jenni’s staccato breathing, gasping, choking, and determined delivery of wordy monologues and quick-witted responses to the questions asked by Jeff (Steve Mitchell), whose frenetic energy is probably supposed to balance the necessarily static state of the play.


Daring Greatly

Daring Greatly. Image by Andrew Seymour.

Daring Greatly

by Rainee Skinner

Daring Greatly, directed by Jaqueline Twigg, is a funny play for those who have been there, done that, you know, experienced The Big M, and it features mostly funny performances, with Peppie Simpson offering the most natural performance of the three, displaying boundless energy, and frustration at the “power surges” she has begun to experience; cause for giggles and chuckles from those who recognise the symptoms of menopause. What’s missing is believable connections between the three women, but they have some challenges in the material, and each do their best with what they’re given. Daring Greatly seems to be two or three plays rolled into one, not quite knowing where it’s going or what it’s doing along the way. I feel like so many of Rainee’s observations and clever quips would come across even better in a book. Or a blog. Or a blog-turned-book. There is something more written than spoken about her dialogue; words for readers, not for actors.


Xanthe Coward

See more social pics by John Woodlock on Noosa Arts Theatre’s Facebook page

Once word hits the streets, this season sells out every year so don’t wait to catch the best new one-act plays this competition has to offer. Go with a partner, a friend, or a group and enjoy talking about the plays, their themes, their actors and directors. Noosa Arts Theatre has a really good vibe going on. If you haven’t been before, it’s time to check it out and see some live theatre in Noosa!


Vote for your favourite play in the Nancy Cato Audience Choice Award, and if you’re attending the final performance on Saturday 15th June, during the Noosa Long Weekend Festival, you can look forward to the insightful comments on the acting and directing, and awards for Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress from Adjudicator, Kate Foy.



3 Responses to “One-Act Play Festival 2013”

  1. 1 John McMahon
    May 31, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    I am pretty sure I have attended every Festival over the years and have been both an Actor and a Director.We have seen some awesome plays on offer over that time.And of course there have been some where you wonder how they ever got chosen. I know judges have a criteria sheet to go by and “safe” plays seem to figure prominently but maybe that is part of the criteria. I think theatres know their own audiences pretty well. It is so easy to drive audiences away with material they don’t like and then so much harder to get them back.For me, when I go to the theatre I want to be entertained and I think that always happens at Noosa. My playwright is coming from New Zealand to see his work performed and we just hope we have done him proud.

  2. 2 Darren Heskes
    June 1, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    “Safe” (or a thesaurus equivalent) does seem to be the operative word here. Obviously the plays that I & perhaps others have submitted over the years do not fit this criteria,as well as those that aren’t really that good. Making compromises to suit a reading panel seems like a cop-out when writers should be true to themselves. Sometimes mediocrity rules the day, but we learn to dust ourselves off & continue in our endeavours because of an inate desire to do so. One such submission of mine was “Anticlimax”. Ignored by this panel, yet winning 3 awards at the Sunshine Coast Theatre Festival, this was in my opinion a lesser work than 2 others previously submitted to the Noosa Competition.

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