Posts Tagged ‘short and sweet

24
Jul
17

Short+Sweet 2017

 

Short+Sweet – the biggest little play festival in the world!

Launch Event 

Brisbane Powerhouse

July 26 – August 5 2017

 

Attended by Claire Harding 

 

 

The Short + Sweet theatre and cabaret festival kicked off in style this week, with an interactive collage of contemporary theatre bites that was some of the most entertaining theatre I have had the pleasure of attending. A mixture of short stories and moving movement pieces, the audience was engaged at every turn.

 

 

It was exciting to see the return of old talent and new, including cabaret and musical extraordinaire Emily Vascotto, expertly accompanied by Ben Murry, bearing her soul recounting past love and heartbreak in The Confession, direct from Melbourne Fringe Festival (and directed by Gabriella Flowers). 

 

This theme ran strongly through the entire showcase, including Jamie Kedal and Gina Limpus’ exquisite physical theatre piece, The Attachment Theory, a beautifully choreographed work that is sexy and violent. The pair explored the three phases of attachment, from infatuation through to separation. This was followed by a two-hander featuring Hannah Belansky and Paige Poulier performing a female duologue, which comments on the social expectations of women, and contrasted starkly with the very politically incorrect comedy duo, The Foxy Morons, known for their performances at Queensland Cabaret Festival, showing us through the Aussie country culture, that they are not fans of Pauline Hanson, whom they describe as more vicious than a cassowary.

 

 

Another funny fierce force was life coach, Kaitlyn Rogers, a fitness fanatic who idolises Shannon Noel and Whoopie, which is exactly what she did to the audience. It’s entertaining with enough serious moving moments and issues, addressing political correctness, racism, love and relationships, to give the performance purpose and meaning.

 

The opening night show culminated with a performance from the winners of last year’s event, having developed their work into a full-length show. Written and performed by Caitlyn Hill and Peter Wood, Boys Taste better with Nutella, lived up to the hype, taking the audience on a journey of relationship ups and downs including asking where do we turn to for love? Nutella and the internet! Frederick aims to make himself feel better by gaining popularity and turns a pleasure and pastime into a business eating things for viewers, which is popular in Korea; a trend which has him questioning his relationship with food and body image as he receives backlash for his imperfections and ‘must be cute not fat’. A string of lights, which the actors jumped in and out of, creates the set and shifts the focus from outer to inner monologue, between past, present and future. This tempo, along with the sound tracks and dance pieces, drives the piece and keeps the audience wanting more, remaining true to its Short+Sweet theatrical conventions.

 

 

With a different line up each week, this amazing and entertaining competition is now a global event! With shows across Brisbane and the Gold Coast venues for the next 4 weeks, get along, you won’t be disappointed. 

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17
Aug
12

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.

04
Mar
12

Fast Forward: a collection of short plays

Fast Forward: A Collection of Short Plays

BATS Inc.

Buderim Memorial Hall 

03.03.12 – 10.03.12

Bookings livetheatre.com.au

Away from Home

By Ian Pullar 

Directed by Madeleine Johnston

Cast:

Roland: John Woodrow

Steve: David Coleman

Plotting to escape from the nursing home.

A common room in a nursing home is indicated with the placement of 2 chairs and a TV set. The actors speak with measured “aged” speech and one of them, Coleman, uses a decidedly whiney tone, which somehow suits his British accent (such is our conditioning, when Brits sound whiney). A funny, light, wry two-hander, this was a great opener. We enjoyed the return to child-like behaviour (as Jaques, in As You Like It, so eloquently describes, in his famous seven ages of man monologue).

With regard to movement, Coleman could have picked up on some of Woodrow’s mannerisms, at times overplayed but generally suitable. Woodrow is well practiced in front of an audience and he certainly knows how to get a laugh or two. With regard to proximity and staging, Woodrow standing for so long, so closely to Coleman in the small space creates an imbalance on stage and therefore, a slight status issue. Not a biggie, just something for the director to keep in mind. On Saturday night, the audience enjoyed this play, offering the actors their gift of plenty of out-loud laughter. Don’t ever underestimate your power to influence the performance, dear audience! We find humour in those characters and situations with which we can relate, so the gift of a good writer (and a good theatrical team), particularly when dealing with comedy, is to present a familiar story, about which we can comfortably laugh. This is the wonderful exchange that exists in live theatre.

It takes 5 of the 10-minute duration to establish these two comical characters as well as their context before there is any suggestion of escape. Following witty reference to a series of famous escape movies, this play concludes neatly, satisfactorily, pleasing the audience.

Something Better than the Spoons

By Bruce Olive

Directed by Kate Cullen

Maureen: Jan Meade

Arthur: David Haviland

Jasmine: Sam Fazldeen

Organising a fund-raising concert.

Haviland and Meade establish characters and context from the outset, a husband and wife relationship that has, perhaps, seen more intimate days (or nights) but nevertheless, is a close and supportive one. Arthur needs a new act for his charity gig at the end of the month and Maureen needs to go to bed.

This play, by local playwright Bruce Olive, has a local flavour (the Buderim Scout Hall gets a mention), which the audience likes and it has a funny premise; Arthur, a retired spoons player calls the Good Time Hotline, on the other end of which is Jasmine; husky, freshly showered good-time-guaranteed-call girl (Fazldeen). Miscommunication allows for a host of quick one-liners, though at times they are not delivered quite quickly enough.

The curtains closing were misleading for those not looking at their watches and suddenly we had Maureen step out in front to introduce her husband and the good time girl in a spicy spoons act that the senior audience won’t be forgetting too soon. Sweet Charity’s Big Spender was the winner here, in an under-choreographed performance, for which there is really no excuse; good choreographers appear to be breeding on the Sunshine Coast at the moment so we must use them (or they will go away).

Here’s a challenge to all community theatre groups: if a script calls for singing or accents, put out a call for a vocal or dialect coach. If a script calls for dancing, ask a dancer to take a look at what you’re doing and invite them to contribute to the piece. If a script calls for dramaturgical work or simply a fresh set of eyes to see it, ask for help. Don’t be shy. Community theatre begs collaboration and in this community there is no doubt we have the talent. Find it and ask if you may borrow a bit of it.

Bugger the Trip

Written & Directed by Alice Rea

Henry: Wayne Neuendorf

Julie: Kerryl Johnson

Waitress: Isabelle La Macchia

Has Henry bitten off more than he can chew? 

This is a strange play. It’s almost two plays that need to be split (or else it is, indeed just the one play, going through an identity crisis). An Italian restaurant setting, helped by Leaning Tower of Pisa clip art projected onto the cyclorama.

Neuendorf recites the lines he’s learned for an utterly deplorable character, Dr Henry Baulderstone, who leers at the waitress as well as his date, spills drinks upon himself and others and flings spaghetti to cover floor and diners alike (props to the extras, playing diners, who stayed sufficiently in the background and yet reacted and retreated appropriately at the right time). His date, poor Julie, boasting a stylish blonde cut and a bold blue dress, takes a bit of dialogue to settle but when she does, her reactions are terrific and she brings the energy this piece needs. It’s pleasing to note that props are handled well (it’s a very messy setting), however; water for champagne in a wine bottle doesn’t wash. “Nice champagne,” I don’t think.

An unexpected twist is over-explained and for me, this seems a fault of the play and nothing to do with the actor, who has enough on his plate as it is, if he is to develop any sort of depth or versatility across his wide-ranging roles on Sunshine Coast stages. The conclusion might have been funnier had it ended with the phone call made by Baulderstone, rather than have him continue into lengthy and unnecessary exposition. As I say, there’s a second play right there. A playwright needs to know when to wrap it up.

Certainly, the characters are drawn pretty clearly and audible gasps from a woman in the audience, at Baulderstone’s every obscene comment and ghastly trait, drew stifled laughter from those around her. I bet the casts wish for an audience as relaxed as this lot every night. When it comes down to it, this play very nearly works. As tends to be the case for so many new comedies, the actors need to keep playing around in it for a bit. As directors (and writer/directors), how much are we asking – or allowing – our actors to play?

 

Life in an Envelope

By John Saint-Smith

Directed by Paul Barrs

Meg: Jacqui Mata Luque

Reminiscing.

“They’re all oldies…” and “Are they trying to tell us something?!” were the audience remarks as Mata Luque shuffled on stage.

A decent study in “aged” movement, Mata Luque takes all the time in the world to enter the space, collect a parcel at the door, cross to the table, make a cup of tea, cross to her chair and gingerly sit down. Without the fourth wall, she addresses the audience directly, reminiscing; the vivid memories of an eighty year old.

This is a poignant piece and it was distracting to see the PowerPoint icons displayed on the cyc. I’m not sure I know how to get rid of them. But I would find someone who did. And get rid of them. A small detail but for a fabulous piece, worth fixing.

Mata Luque is one of our most experienced performers and it shows. She is relaxed, confident and charming as the eighty-something year old Meg, who is sent a letter from a woman she once knew, the daughter of a friend of hers, now deceased. Having bequeathed some items to Meg, we see (projected) a page from a Ration Book, which spurs Meg’s memories of the government telling the people during the war years, “We had to live a simpler life” and “We were all in it together”. She recalls saving every last scrap and laughs with us at her own funny-because-it’s-true wisecrack, “There weren’t too many fat people around during the war!

A precious Dance Card draws forth some fonder memories, of the boys who would ask her to dance during her youth. This story is expanded upon beautifully, with tenderness and new love for her main man, Vince. Mata Luque is an actor who reminds us of the importance of simply telling the story. She talks to us like an old friend and we feel welcome to stay and listen to her tales. A black and white photo reminds her of bonfires and more intimate times on the beach, though, “not like the young hussies today!” A portrait of Vince, “when the boy became a man,” on the eve of his departure to war leads to a letter, which we hear read through Meg’s tears, confirming that she lost the love of her life, recipient of the Victoria Cross no less, to the war. Meg pushes herself up out of her chair and shuffles to find her handkerchief. We hear the same woman in the audience, through her own tears, utter something indiscernible and feel a sense of relief when the lights come up for interval. That one has visibly affected us and it’s time for a cup of tea.

 

INTERVAL – listen to reflections from Director, Paul Barrs

 

Over

Written & Directed by Catherine Steer

Woman: Kathryn Barnes

Man: David Coleman

Girl: Bronte Latham

Boy: Dominic Morley

A couple is reminded of what once was.

This is another interesting offering from writer/director Catherine Steer. I’ve not seen her original work before but I find her take on known works just as interesting. Over is ever so slightly absurd and slightly more Brechtian, featuring two actors out front, a male and female, sharing their thoughts on what their relationship has become, as two younger actors – a male and a female – recount in mime, their memories.

If you entreat an audience to remember, you must be genuine. It’s interesting, almost deadpan delivery instead, that serves to alienate us.

Man: “How do you get from that … To this?”

Woman: “It takes years.”

Suddenly the deadpan delivery and the staging work and we get a laugh. It’s the laugh of recognition of the familiar. We’ve been there. Well, a younger audience may not have been there at all but for those who have felt the absurdity at times of a long-standing relationship, this sort of self-deprecating humour is appreciated. What was once an embrace is now “being within an iron fortress.” (The discipline of the young couple, wrapped in an embrace for a good length of iron fortress time, is duly noted.)

“We were like that once…weren’t we?”

“We’ll just keep going, pretend we’re still in love; keep everyone happy.”

“One day you find love just doesn’t live with you anymore.”

“Oh well. At least we still have each other.”

The irony. The flip sides of the coin.

“Familiar,” “Scary,” and “Is that us, do you think?” were the audience remarks I overheard at the conclusion of this play. Steer’s is theatre that inspires thought and initiates discussion.

And then there was the raffle – because somebody forgot to draw it at interval – gotta’ love community theatre.

 

The Mysterious Case of the Man with the Seven Deadly Sins

By Bruce Olive

Directed by Madeleine Johnston

Psychiatrist: Pedau Grabbe

David: Alex Tillack

We hear the Looney Tunes theme to open. It sets a certain tone.

A tall, lanky, suit and spectacle wearing, clipboard-bearing doctor welcomes into her office, an urban jeans and t-shirt clad kid who suffers from schizophrenia. This character allows Tillack to explore several characters and the extremes of each personality. Tillack could push the envelope a little further with these and play a little larger. This role is a terrific opportunity to showcase the versatility of an actor; Jekyll and Hyde style and an abridged version would make a great audition piece.

I felt that Grabbe missed an opportunity here or perhaps the director missed seeing something in her because the doctor, in questioning David (and Mr Envy, Mr Pride, Mr Glutton, Mr Sloth, Mr Lust et al), had more to explore than the static, stereotypical psychoanalyst. As an actor, we have to remember that the character is not just a psychiatrist but also a woman (and maybe a mother and almost certainly, she is someone’s daughter or sister or partner). She has opinions and a life story and she’s already – before we see her – had a good or a bad day. We create back-stories and history to give our characters depth. We spend time exploring voice and movement to make our characters appear real.

There is work here to be done on vocals. Some higher feminine voices are harder to listen to (hence we have successful news anchors of both sexes with lower pitch). The tone can be softened and the pace and inflection can vary. Take time to listen, absorb and respond accordingly, as you would do IRL (in real life).

David returns to the doctor’s office, apparently cured. The doctor is pleased that her prescription has had the desired effect. He looks puzzled. “Medication? What medication?” We hear – and see – that the other personalities have departed because they couldn’t stand the noise…from the cockatoo! This is a great, funny finish, though verging on OTT. This audience liked it and those nearest me commented, “He was very good! He was actually very good.”

Modern Life

By John Saint Smith

Directed by Paul Barrs

Jane: Anita Tillack

Peter: Carl Trocki

Another from the pen of John Saint Smith, Modern Life has an immediate eighties vibe (and a solid voiceover – look out, Bruce Hamilton – thanks to director, Paul Barrs.

He tells me at interval that the mother of an auditionee (Tillack) and another newbie, Trocki, rocked up and suited the roles and the play. Trocki’s American accent and his softer tone, typical of the humble, well sponsored and even better schooled, high-ranking tennis player sounds authentic and is lovely to listen to. Trocki, though, should watch his energy towards the ends of phrases so we don’t lose the text and Tillack must work harder to enunciate and to vary her pitch. I only make these notes now so that actors may bear in mind that which their audience is seeing and hearing so they might deliver a clearer message next time.

A heavy environmental lesson during a candid conversation seems to come out of nowhere and is explained later. The relationship itself is unclear at first – are they friends? He asks her out to dinner. “How am I supposed to resist you?” They seem an unlikely couple. We must be wary of unmotivated movement. If our intention is clear the movement makes sense.

An amusing twist and an explanation delivered directly to audience sets our minds at ease. “I tried dating real women…” and we have the “a-ha” moment; it’s a stepford wives story. The woman is “The perfect flatmate for the environmentally responsible modern man. Plus, think of the power I save!” Finally, in his last laugh line, delivered with aplomb, I decide Trocki is one to watch. His is an easy manner and he just needs to settle into the space. As actors, we must learn what our habits are and set about breaking them. It’s a director’s job to support this process.

  

The Job Interview

By John Saint Smith

Directed by Jacqui Mata Luque

Evan: David Coleman

Sue: Anna McMahon

The sound of a clock ticking while the audience chatters. We know it’s the last play of the program and it’s been a good night so we’re in high spirits. Curtains open on a couple of red sofas, a desk, a chair and a handwritten sign “Back in 5 minutes. Thanks.”

The actor entering this scene, Coleman again, though this time in a comfortable role that he rocks rather than doesn’t quite fit, builds tension nicely, anticipating a job interview situation and instead, getting a sassy chick in a hibiscus print mini skirt and jacket. McMahon is applying for the same position – apparently – and bustles in, all business (well, and perhaps a bit of play); it suits her.

This clever piece is nearly naturalistic, only some of the sarcasm and enthusiasm seems staged. Outbursts particularly were believable. For example, Evan’s incredulous, “Where the hell are they?!” got a great laugh because we were all wondering the same thing! Both actors played to nice reactions, finding a connection within their banter that we too could feel. Here we had the element of play that I was looking to see in earlier pieces. It’s community theatre! If it’s not fun – if you’re not having fun – why are you doing it???

Admittedly, we saw the twist in this one coming but we didn’t mind. We also know the Titanic will sink but it’s the getting there that’s exhilarating.

An evening of short plays like this will always be a mixed bag. That’s why I don’t mind supporting them. Like the Short+Sweet phenomenon (Sam Coward, Brett Klease and Simon Denver are set to take on Sydney next, having won the Queensland competition), there will always be something for everyone. And if there’s something you’re not enjoying, it’s all over in 10 minutes! Whether or not you’re a regular theatregoer and whether or not you know anybody involved, this is your best local night out. If you’re really keen to keep heading out, it’s over before 10:30pm, which means you can catch a cab, talk about what you’ve seen and no doubt make some drama (and/or comedy) of your own somewhere! Cheers!




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