Posts Tagged ‘one act plays


Sunshine Coast Theatre Festival and the question of reviews and social media…


Remember when I said I was going to post every Friday, my column from the local rag, the Sunshine Coast Daily? Yeah? No. That hasn’t happened and you haven’t asked for it! But here’s my column from last week (Friday August 8 2014), which they actually printed without editing very much. Mostly, this column, somewhere between submitting and printing, has become a dead easy “What’s On?” list of things to see on the Sunshine Coast and often I’ll begin it with a comment on the state of the local arts scene. But I always wanted to throw into this space some of the harder questions too. Like, what is it we’re all doing? And, why are we doing it? And, what’s the use of reviewing what we’re doing if we continue to do just exactly what we’ve always been doing? #justasking


What makes this much more interesting than the fact that I felt the need to write it in the first place, is the way it was presented on the page, beneath a photo I didn’t submit, beside a “review” that no one saw coming because the other columnist on the page tends to write exclusively about his own theatre company and their productions. Isn’t media manipulation a funny thing? Separated, and published over different weeks, a parallel would not have even been drawn, but due to savvy editing and fascinating timing (could be a full moon thing), I came under fire on social media for presenting an opinion with which some people didn’t agree.




As I’ve explained to concerned friends and family over the weekend, I’m a blogger, I’m a writer, I’m a reviewer, and because I’m confident enough to put myself out there, it’s no surprise (and certainly not the end of the world!), when somebody has a problem with something I’ve said. I know they’d like to think they are all-powerful and all-knowing, with a convincing enough argument to band together a legion of fans in a vitriolic thread (for what purpose, I don’t know), but you know what? I’ve come to realise the trolls and haters who comment without thinking first are just little wizards of oz, hiding their insecure, trembling, self righteous little selves behind a great big curtain called a keyboard. Sam and I agree (What? I know! Surprise!), I must still be so naive! Because it genuinely surprises me every time to see somebody’s true colours online. Do they actually think they’re anonymous on Facebook?! Do they genuinely not realise that everyone knows everyone on Facebook?! OOPS! HA! I used to worry more about them and their opinions, and I do – of course I do – feel the awful sting of a snide remark or cruel comment. Who doesn’t? But then, and I thank you Brisbane community for helping me to move on after some interesting learning experiences, including Jekyll & Hyde and The Truth About Kookaburras, I take a breath and look at how wonderful every day is. Other than travelling the world (and we’re working on it!), we actually have everything we have set out to get. And we do love giving back. It makes me wonder what sort of lives the haters have. I learned very early, at school, that kids with less confidence would say whatever it took to make themselves feel better (but did they really feel better? Really?)… It’s actually laughable. I actually can’t believe some of the things people feel comfortable saying on social media. I wonder why they don’t say them to my face? I see them often enough! The Sunshine Coast is not a big pond! Isn’t it funny to really see someone for who they are? Luckily, I’m blessed with actual friends, and a supportive family and husband who are able to point out to me if I ever forget it –






Now let’s get some things straight, just in case you’ve been following the wrong Facebook threads.


Sam and I have only ever been supportive of local community theatre but the truth is, we are in the game now for slightly different reasons. In addition to “having fun” and being social, we want to continue to produce professional productions. We’re so proud of our original pieces, and of our recent success at Noosa Long Weekend Festival. It’s true, we expect a higher standard from everybody involved in our productions and THAT’S WHY WE PAY THEM. This is the fundamental difference between what we do and what is accomplished by the haters involved in their amateur groups. There is always going to be merit in treading the boards for free and for fun – it’s how we learned a heap of basic skills and developed enormous confidence too – but we decided a few years ago to try to make it pay, and now that it does so we’ll continue to focus on doing more of the same. You can argue that the quality of the productions are the same as your amateur efforts but in actual fact they’re usually not. How do I know? Because I’ve seen what you’ve been doing. And in the past there have been times when you’ve asked for feedback and I’ve offered it. Whether or not you’ve taken it on board, or even used it as a starting point to simply reconsider or reflect on what it is you’re doing, has been up to you. And we’ve certainly seen you improve…or not.


To see that I’m right, you should really get out more. Go see “good” theatre. Go see MORE theatre so you start to see for yourself what “good” looks like. You never have to take my word for it! Quite simply, Sam and I set our own standards and with a production budget we can afford to see that we reach them. We have a core ensemble – and it’s a true ensemble – and we will always welcome into that awesome little team, people with a professional approach to match our own. If you’re a performer (or stage manager or designer or techie) aspiring to greater heights, let us know. You don’t have to work for free anymore on the Sunshine Coast! Hooray! On the other hand, if you’re happy to do so, if you’re totally okay with the way you’re currently presenting on stage (and off), go ahead and keep supporting your local community group and having a ball! Cheers!




So. Sam is still the President of the Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance, I’m still writing the column for the paper, we are both on the Noosa Long Weekend Festival board and programming committee, I’m on the Matilda Committee, and we are still directing, coaching, consulting, emceeing, promoting and supporting many local artists and events for free. We actually do far more for free, still, than for dollars. And that’s okay too, although we are more selective now about the people and charities we choose to support. We can only do so much. But we truly value community theatre so we continue to support it. We’ve always walked the talk. I thought that much was pretty obvious but I guess when some-unenlightened-body gets a bee in their bonnet they forget the big picture. It actually infuriates me momentarily, to see and hear criticism from those who purport to know us or to know better. But, sure, you’re entitled to your opinion too. Just maybe think twice before putting it online.




SCD Arts Friday August 8 2014


We know the Sunshine Coast has talent, and some of us can even recognise excellence when we see it on stage, however; I miss the days of legitimate local theatre reviews, which we used to enjoy via this publication, thanks to an arrangement with Ian Austin, professional playwright and critic. Those of us involved in theatre at the time remember our early Saturday morning race to buy the Sunshine Coast Daily for Mr Austin’s insightful write-ups of local productions. Not only did the reviews provide valuable feedback from a respected theatrical identity, they gave potential audience members valid reasons to consider which productions they might be interested in supporting.


It’s all very well for each community theatre group to promote their own production, or for enthusiastic cross-promotion to continue happening – after all, we should be supporting each other’s endeavours – but to blatantly mislead the public and the talent about the standard of a local show when one has recently attended no other local shows with which to compare it is outrageous and irresponsible.


To my understanding, a review is certainly one’s personal response to a production, but it should also offer some truth in terms of what audiences may expect to experience at a show. This requires broad knowledge, an open mind and the acceptance that honesty does not necessarily initiate or nurture friendships.


Amongst my peers, the theatre reviewers feel a degree of responsibility to the creatives, but also to audiences. Over the last five years I have attended, on average, 1-2 professional theatrical productions a week, and during festival time that number increases. What kind of reviewer would I be if I proclaimed every production just as excellent as the next? Or a mediocre production the most impressive? I don’t presume to help box office sell tickets – that’s what marketing collateral is for – but I do appreciate the opportunity to offer people a fair assessment of a show, allowing them to make up their own minds as to whether or not they might enjoy it.


It’s an unfortunate fact that theatre reviewing in this country is not valued enough by the industry, nor by the publications who seek content (both in print and online) to provide any remuneration for the job. Perhaps if it were a paid position, and genuine feedback was taken on board by those who insist on putting productions together, our audiences could reasonably expect a greater degree of excellence on local stages and attend the theatre more often, which in turn would help to sell tickets and keep our local theatre thriving. I wonder what the theatre companies, venues, councils and arts funding bodies might think of that? What do you think?






Next up, Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance is hosting the largest theatre festival on the South East Queensland Drama circuit. This means, starting this Friday, we’ll be at The Lind, Nambour, for 10 days of workshops, forums, debates and one-act plays. We have a record number of youth entries across the final weekend of the festival and some new and familiar faces competing in the open section, which takes place this weekend.



Forum Panellists are Mahana Currie, Robyn Ernst (BYTE), Ian Mackellar (Noosa Long Weekend Festival) and Ian Williams, discussing Sunshine Coast Theatre – Past, Present, Future. The debate will see Mark Darin (MIX FM), Joy Marshall and Marina de Jager argue the merits of musical theatre with Gail Denver, Errol Morrison and Frank Wilkie. These events cost just $5 to attend and give you the chance to mix with the local makers and lovers of live theatre.



We welcome special guest adjudicator, Margi Brown Ash, Director of Hedonism’s Second Album, which opens on Thursday night at La Boite.



For SCTF14 details and bookings check out






Short & Sweet Brisbane 2012

SHORT+SWEET Brisbane 2012

QUT The Loft

14th August – 19th August 2012

Reviewed by Meredith McLean

Short and Sweet

Titles can be misleading. Named SHORT+SWEET a little over a decade ago for good reason, this only rings true on the surface. Underneath it all is a lot of effort and a long period of preparation. Often and only in the most hilarious ways the performances are not sweet at all. This thoroughfare of performances is in itself something quite monumental.

It’s almost like Russian roulette. You don’t quite know what to expect every time a new gang of vivacious actors leap from The Loft’s curtain. Admittedly, this is not an event for small children but the range of style does bring something for everyone. Whether you prefer crude belt-out laughter comedy or perhaps something of the more dark realism persuasion of theatre, there is not a play that won’t satisfy these curiosities.

The range of talent as well, is something peculiar to watch. Some of the actors will clearly demonstrate their experience and prowess simply by the way they frame themselves on stage. Then just as loud and proud, battling it out against the old timers, are the budding new talents of Brisbane. A few faces I even recognised from around QUT campus. I couldn’t help myself but root for my fellow aspiring university students. It’s part of an unspoken broke uni student code I suppose.

Keep your eyes open for some very promising competitors. The Rental Company will have you running out of breath trying to laugh at each gag. Ben Disteldorf and Matthew Crawford as the doomed customer and the horrifying salesman run together flawlessly.

Written and directed by Bare Bottomed Tea Friends (their name alone lets you know what you’re in for), My Bathroom Musical reveals what every girl is thinking before a night out on the town. Ladies, I warn you now. If you bring him, your significant other will definitely start to feel uncomfortable while you smile to yourself knowing it’s all too true.

But SHORT+SWEET isn’t just a comedy festival. It’s a concept that unites different playwrights, actors and directors around the world. The Pond, performed by Emily Pollard and Sam Ryan is haunting. It is so convincing because you don’t realise what they’re doing to you. In their faces, their words, the way they sit under dimmed lights then stand up and speak honestly. The Pond takes us somewhere dark and lonely without us even knowing until we realise we’re splashing around in the pond with them.

This was by no means interactive theatre, however; the audience is nonetheless something of VIP status for this festival. Not only do we have the top ten performances paraded one after the other to the audience, but you will get to vote too! By choosing your top three you get to decide who will move onto the final round. These actors, playwrights and directors have put their fate into your hands. If you attend the show, by all means, remember to choose wisely.

The man behind the festival is just as warm-hearted and good-humoured as each of the top ten plays. Rather than hiding in the wings with a stony face and shadows over his eyes Sean Dennehy comes out and greets us all. He riles the crowd up like a proper ringmaster with his menagerie of one-act plays.

This particular event is touring Brisbane and Gold Coast but SHORT+SWEET has made it’s own strides since fruition. This year the festival will be taking on international pursuits through Singapore, Malaysia, Taipei, Auckland, Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai.

So what are you after? What are you looking for? Strained for time or do you have time to kill? SHORT+SWEET caters for any and all answers. Make your way to The Loft, at QUT Kelvin Grove, this weekend and see the Top 10 or perhaps you’d prefer their Wild Card event? Be quick, the Gala Final will be coming soon and all the time, effort and amazing creativity displayed will be wrapped up into one last performance. Short and sweet the way we like it.


2012 National One-Act Playwriting Festival Results

CONGRATULATIONS to the winners of this year’s One-Act Play Festival!

(the finalists of the National One-Act Playwriting Competition)

Congratulations to Brisbane playwright Debra Chalmers on taking out top honours in this year’s National One-Act Playwriting Competition, winning $3000 sponsored by Macquarie Private Wealth, with her comedy, Here’s The Thing.

Debra also won the Audience Choice Award and a Publishing contract with Maverick Musicals.

Here’s the Thing is Debra’s second play!

Winning Playwright Debra Chalmers

It should be noted that without the long-term support of Macquarie and Maverick Musicals, this competition would not be what it is. Thanks must also go to long-time supporter and a major force behind the continuation and evolution of the festival, Synda Turnbull (has Synda been made a Noosa Arts Theatre Life Member yet? IT’S TIME!), to the reading panels, the guest adjudicators and all of the wonderful Noosa Arts Theatre and Noosa Longweekend volunteers.

Cast of the winning play in the National One-Act Playwriting Competition Here’s the Thing by Debra Chalmers
Best Actress (centre) Jodie Bushby

Hugh O’Brien – 2nd place ($2000) Three Angry Brides

Rainee Skinner – 3rd Place ($1000) Boy in the Cardboard Box.

Sue Clapham – Best Director (Boy in the Cardboard Box)

Stephen Moore – Best Actor (Boy in the Cardboard Box)

Jodie Bushby – Best Actress (Here’s the Thing)

3rd Place: Boy in the Cardboard Box by Rainee Skinner
Best Actor (right) Stephen Moore. Adjudicator’s Award (left) Gail Evans).

Adjudicator’s Awards (special mentions) to Nathan Hynes and Gail Evans.

2nd Place: Three Angry Brides by Hugh O’Brien
Adjudicator’s Award Nathan Hynes


short + sweet sunshine coast




Submissions for Actors, Directors and Independent Theatre Groups close on May 31st 2012


Got a 10 minute play? Sure you do!


Simon Denver adapted So, Where Is It? from the original one-act play, which he wrote for a festival in a matter of days after Sam Coward said one day over a few beers, “WHY NOT? WE’RE GOOD AT VIOLENCE.”

The 10 minute version only came about when I received a phone call during rehearsals for our gig at The Sydney Children’s Festival inviting us to submit something to Short + Sweet and Sam said, in the dressing room of the Seymour Centre, “WHY NOT? WE’RE GOOD AT VIOLENCE AND IT’S JUST 10 MINUTES.”

So, Where Is it? won Brett Klease Best Actor at last year’s Sunshine Coast Theatre Festival and the 10 minute version took out 1st place in the Gold Coast & Brisbane Short+Sweet competitions. It then went to Sydney (thanks to some of YOU! THANK YOU!), where it won third place.

With so many one-act play festivals happening across the Sunshine Coast, why not do the same? Or register your 10 minute play from the recent season in Buderim. IT’S JUST 10 MINUTES! YOU CAN DO IT!

You CAN do it. But do you need some help taking the red pen to your script? Register first! Just do it and then let us know! We can help edit and workshop your one-act play down to just 10 minutes or help you find a new script to work on.

Check out the vast collection that the 10 Minute Play Master, Alex Broun, has made available online for FREE.

The Short+Sweet QLD 2012 Brisbane+Gold Coast+Sunshine Coast theatre season runs from 1st August to the 19th August at

The Loft (QUT Creative Industries)

The Arts Centre Gold Coast

Lind Lane Theatre, Nambour


June 16th Director briefing and welcome drinks


June 23rd Sunshine Coast auditions


June 30th Rehearsals commence


Remember, it all starts with an idea….. 

This one was just so crazy…it worked!



Edythe Brooke Cooper Playwriting Competition


Congratulations to all involved in staging Sharon Durley’s Pieces

Best Actor (Harry Bayliss)

Best Actor (Susie Pritchard)

Best Director (Paul barrs)

Best Play


Congrats also to David Coleman and co

winner of the Audience Choice Award for Sue Sewell’s Once Bitten


The 3 winning one-act plays, from the inaugural 
Edythe Brook Cooper playwriting competition.

Thicker Than Water  a drama by Neil Ronald Anderson from Victoria, Directed by Jacqui Mata Luque, Once Bitten a light drama by Sue Sewell from Buderim, Directed by David Coleman, Pieces  a drama by Sharyn Anne Durley from Dayboro, Directed by Paul Barrs.
 Three stories that explore life’s questions of love, aging, death, duty and family.

Edythe Brook Cooper Playwriting Competition


Buderim Memorial Hall

12th May – 18th May

Thicker Than Water

By Neil Anderson

Directed by Mary Newton

“Geez!” There’s some stilted dialogue and deliberate gesture in this, the first of the three finalists in the Edythe Brook Cooper Playwriting Competition; it’s the declamatory style that comes from inexperience. Unfortunately, the overall effect was unnatural communication between the characters. Projection was a problem for the boys playing the two sons (Alex Tillack and Dominic Morley) but we have to remember that, in this space, like so many community halls used as theatres, the sound gets a little lost in spaaaaace!

More specifically though, actors need to work on voices that come from intent and not just from their knowledge of the lines. Who is it you’re speaking to? What does that person mean to you? What are you communicating to them (this is not always just what you’re saying!)? Who is working with new performers on this?!

The clipped consonants coming from the boys sound super polite and normally I love a bit of good, clear enunciation but this time it doesn’t fit, particularly when their father, Ross (Michael Parlato) grimaces and mumbles much of the time. He’s perfectly typically Australian and we miss a lot of what he’s saying. I felt similarly about his performance in Bruce Olive’s award-winning play, A Knock at the Door. I’d like to see Parlato loosen up next time. This might help the less experienced actors to connect with him. We needed a slightly stronger connection between he and PJ Grabbe’s character, the girlfriend, Ruth. Has she been told to turn away from him? Her posturing seems diametrically opposed to what she wants to do in the scene, which is to make him stay for the night. PJ has some good, natural reactions and we warm to him as he warms to her.

It’s interesting staging, seating the couple – Parlato and Elisa Sanchez – at the table in the restaurant without facing each other. Sitting facing the audience looked (and must have felt) completely unnatural. At this point, PJ makes a cameo appearance in a Pretty Woman style wig! Her role in this scene, in addition to that of Wendy Marks as the waitress, who recognises Greg from the newspaper, is redundant. While Sanchez gives a lovely, sweet performance, she also demonstrates the rookie error that we have seen from everybody else in this cast: she suddenly breaks away from Parlato’s embrace and directly addresses the audience. “Hey! What are we going to tell our friends and relatives?!” These two seem to want to linger together but may have been told to do otherwise. There is no chance in the scene to explore that renewed relationship and the intimacy and sexual attraction that sparks it, even though it’s there in the lines. It seems a shame not to go there.

In terms of the writing, there’s a little too much exposition, leaving nothing to the audience’s imagination. Bryce Courtney says don’t explain or describe everything. I remember hearing Courtney explain a writing exercise, which he gives to his new students. They are instructed to write, “It was a beautiful morning in Africa.” And that’s all. Readers have their own version or vision of “a beautiful morning in Africa”. It’s a good lesson for playwrights.

Once Bitten

By Sue Sewell

Directed by David Coleman

Once Bitten is the one comedy of the three finalists. This staging is better, more balanced, than the first and the company appears to be better rehearsed (or more relaxed). The lines flow more easily, making it easy for us to enjoy the pace and humour of the piece. Director, David Coleman, shows genuine trust in his actors by allowing them time in each scene to listen to each other and respond in a natural manner.

Pamela Burchall is a joy to watch; her take on the main character, Pixie, is delightful and she’s very natural and comfortable in the role. On opening night we listened patiently while she stumbled through a lengthy monologue, which gradually revealed the events leading to the death of her husband but I’m sure this won’t happen again. Overall, Burchall offers an endearing and amusing performance, her attitude towards each of her daughters giving us a glimpse into the differing relationships and keeping it real when the premise, which I won’t give away, is really, superbly over-the-top and ridiculous. She says to her daughter, “I’m sixty, Abbie, what does life hold for me?” which sets up the lovely notion that, despite the jeers and judgments of others, when it comes to improvising a bucket list, anything is possible.

There is terrific sibling rivalry at play and a great connection between the daughters (Kathryn Barnes and Megan Mackander). Lee, played by Mackander is a fabulous force once she settles and audiences will enjoy her brash performance very much as her cynical and rapidly fired one-liners provide much of the comedy. Again there appears to be a little out-front delivery from a couple of cast members. Is this deliberate? Is there some fear that we will miss a gag? Whatever happened to the fourth wall?!

Sue Sewell’s plot unravels nicely, offering us, like a pass the parcel, one surprise after another. The audience thoroughly enjoys it.

Oliver Osborne, who plays Harry, is the youngest cast member in the season and he does an excellent job. He is just enough and some of the adults can learn from his self-assurance, focus and stillness on stage. He is certainly one to watch.

A different play would have ended with “I’m ready…” (When you see it you’ll see what I mean). Of course there is a twist, though and it’s a good one, however, as previously mentioned, it was hard work on opening night to get there! Luckily for Burchall (and the playwright), she finishes strongly, delivering the punch line with aplomb!

This play is likely to be the audience favourite.


By Sharyn Durley

Directed by Paul Barrs

The final play in the program is Sharyn Durley’s Pieces, directed by Paul Barrs. It has the Paul Barrs stamp on it and that’s not a bad thing. It works.

An interesting opening, a young soldier, Tim (Harry Bayliss) visits Nan (n.b. not his nan) in her home, which we know from the program to be an “assisted care” facility. A nurse visits her from time to time, you know, to make sure she’s still there and kicking. Nan, played by Susie Pritchard, is sharp of tongue and terribly cynical. Her dry humour should be funnier. I guess we all know old people like that…old people who should be funnier. The staging is mostly static and it mostly works. Good listening, Bayliss.

A nice relationship develops between the two and as Nan procrastinates, not wanting to complete her jigsaw puzzle, the performers work hard building and defusing tension to give us a rather complicated story.

Newcomer, Virginia Moriones, as Nurse Patricia, is simply gorgeous. From Spain, she has an accent we love to hear and her delivery is clear enough. Moriones’ energy is the kind we need to see more of in Sunshine Coast community theatre; she glows. We also see some nice work from another newcomer, Alys Gwillim (young Nan), who shows sensitivity as well as a sense of drama in the role.

Don’t leave before casting your vote for the Audience Choice Award!

Reading Panel: Ian Austin, Glenda Connors and Peta Beattie

Performance Adjudicator: Keith Souter

Season concludes May 19th 2012. Book online.