Short+Sweet Theatre Festival is back in Dubai – bigger and better

Hard on the heels of the just-finished Short+Sweet Abu Dhabi, the better-established Dubai version of the 10-minute play festival is about to kick off.

These days the Dubai festival is second in size only to Sydney, the original home of Short+Sweet. Hosted again by The Junction, and now independent of former organisers, the 2018 Short+Sweet Theatre Festival runs over six weekends and crams in 80+ playlets featuring more than 200 of Dubai’s most exciting actors, writers, directors and independent theatre companies.

The organisers say there is something for everyone – comedy, drama, romance and thrillers. “This year also includes a separate weekend of non-English plays showcasing the diversity of cultures and ethnicities who call Dubai home,” says Sabiha Majgaonkar, Festival Coordinator.

All that gives the performers and directors maximum scope in terms of choice and matching capabilities and inclinations; ten minutes is long enough to deliver good theatre and short enough to hone the finished product well. From the audience’s viewpoint it makes for a great night out – bags of variety in each session, with eight to ten shows to see none of which will be long enough to grate or bore.

Not that Short+Sweet does variable quality; there’s a good deal of pre-festival vetting of scripts, actors and directors. At the same time, while many of the plays are relatively conventional in their delivery, the festival does provide a much-needed forum for experimentation – in scripts, styles, and directorial ideas – while allowing local artists a chance to explore theatrical dreams and ambitions.

The Short+Sweet format is quite simple. The plays are divided into two categories: Wildcards and Top 40. Wildcards are entries presented by talent that is new to the scene; the Top 40 plays represent the more experienced performers, writers and directors.

Plays in both categories are scored by a panel of judges; the audience also gets to vote for their favourite play – indeed, the Audience Choice final is a whole evening of plays that won the audience vote in the preliminary sessions.

There are prizes for winners of the Audience Choice as well as Wildcards; all plays are also in the running for the best-of-festival Gala Awards on 3 March. For the first time there are also cash prizes in various categories including Best Play, Best Director, Best Playwright (local), Best Actor/Actress, Best Newcomer Male/Female, Best Poster and Best Independent Theatre Company.

Here’s the full schedule:

Weekend 1 26-27 January

26 January 4pm Wildcards group 1
26 January 7:30pm Top 40 group 1
27 January 4pm Wildcards group 1
27 January 7:30pm Top 40 group 1

Weekend 2 2-3 February

2 February 4pm Wildcards group 2
2 February 7:30pm Top 40 group 2
3 February 4pm Wildcards group 2
3 February 7:30pm Top 40 group 2

Weekend 3 9-10 February

9 February 4pm Wildcards group 3
9 February 7:30pm Top 40 group 3
10 February 4pm Wildcards group 3
10 February 7:30pm Top 40 group 3

Weekend 4 16-17 February

16 February 4pm Wildcards group 4
16 February 7:30pm Top 40 group 4
17 February 4pm Wildcards group 4
17 February 7:30pm Top 40 group 4

Finals Weekend 23-24 February

23 February 4pm People’s Choice Final
23 February 7:30pm People’s Choice Final
24 February 4pm Wildcards Final
24 February 7:30pm Wildcards Final

Red Carpet Gala Finals 1-3 March

1 March 7:30pm Gala Finals
2 March 7:30pm Gala Finals
3 March 7pm Red Carpet Gala Final (including award ceremony)

Tickets for are AED 110 per person per session (AED 60 for students) with early-bird discounts, apart from the Red Carpet Gala Final on 3 March which is AED 150. Book them here.

More information here.

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