INTERVIEW: Short + Sweet Theatre Festival

SHORT+SWEET THEATRE FESTIVAL, now a global affair, returns to Brisbane with a program of snappy plays. I caught up with SEAN DENNEHY, festival director, for a short+sweet Q&A.

ZF: S+S Festival brings us 40 different plays from 40 different writers. How short is the shortest?
SD: In real time, about 6 and a half minutes. In your mind,it could be a lifetime or the blink of an eye.

ZF: And, of course, which play is the sweetest?
SD: A play that includes the shadows of life and non-human actors has got to be sweet innovation: Jennifer Bismire’s Doll’s House.

ZF: A short novel is a novella and a short short story is flash fiction — invent a fitting new name for the “short play”, if there isn’t one already.
SD: There isn’t and i’m going to say bite-size.

ZF: Tell me a short, sweet or surprising fact about one of the artists you’ve been working with for the festival.
SD: Caterina Hibberd directed for the mainstage Queensland Theatre Company season in 2012.

ZF: Short+Sweet welcomes a number of independent companies this year. What do they bring to the festival?
SD: Independent theatre companies are the lifeblood of innovation and experimentation in the performing arts. They bring an edge to Short+Sweet as they try new ways to wow their audiences


ZF: From drama to comedy to puppetry, is there one genre that you feel best fits the short form?
SD: Each genre brings its own challenges; to make the audience care about the characters in a 10-minute drama requires total engagement from the writer, director and actors. Comedy can be so subjective — the three creatives involved have to commit to perfect comedic timing. So no there is no one genre.

ZF: What’s the best thing about an evening of short plays?
SD: If you don’t like one play, you only have 10 minutes to wait for the next one. It’s also like having all your senses bombarded at once!

ZF: What’s the biggest challenge in directing a festival of little plays?
SD: The number of artists involved! A community event like this can involve up to 200 artists!

ZF: What about Queensland talent does S+S represent for you?
SD: It represents the wealth and depth of talent in Qld — talent that can be world-class, or talent that is happy to stay and enrich this state from the inside out

ZF: If S+S Festival were a dessert, what would it be?

SHORT+SWEET FESTIVAL runs at QUT’s The Loft from 18 to 25 Aug. If you live down the coast or want to start your bite-sized theatre feast early, S+S Gold Coast runs at the Arts Centre Gold Coast from 30 Jul to 3 Aug.

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