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A pithy play can be a satisfying theatre experience as the growing popularity of the Short + Sweet Festival proves.
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10 minutes, your time starts now
Abuzz has already been created. And it should pick up momentum tomorrow evening when the curtains go up on the seven award-winning plays from the last two editions of the Short + Sweet festival. "This is one concept that created a revolution of sorts since it made its debut in India two years ago, " says Deepak Dhamija to whom the festival-director's baton has been passed on by Alex Broun.
Started in Australia in 2002, founders Broun and Mark Cleary's aim for the Short + Sweet concept was simple: to ensure that writers explore "an interesting, universal theme that people could relate to" in a time span of 10 minutes. As Broun once said, "S+S holds a mirror to the world and forces the audience to think, to reflect. "
Sure enough, the format became an instant hit with its minimalist props and the "quick creative process" which allows for no waste of time. "There's no time to introduce characters, the play starts bang on, " says the 29-year-old Dhamija giving the example of The Shadows Within by an Indian-Australian playwright, Sonal Moore. "It's a haunting, evocative play about a woman with a multi-personality disorder. And in those ten minutes, the way the writer brings forth the struggle between illusion and reality through different 'voices' is just amazing. "
The 'recap' also includes Dhamija's Kutte (Dogs), about a widow and a stray dog. While the woman gets increasingly annoyed by the barking of street dogs, the canine's equally compelling perspective is also brought forth to the audience. "I stared work on it as an experiment - and it turned out to be one that worked well, " says Dhamija.
Unlike the last two years when the festival was launched with a party, this year Dhamija has decided to do something different. "We will launch the third edition of the festival with these seven award-winning plays. And with it make an announcement inviting entries for the three-week festival that will start from November 22. It will have ten plays in nine weekend shows. The gala has been planned for December 14. "
Leary, according to Dhamija, had predicted that S+S will find a home in India, and it has. Dhamija himself is an IIM-Kolkata graduate who, despite working as a venture capitalist, can't seem to shed the theatre bug he caught in the City of Joy. "It's amazing how even bus drivers and chauffeurs there will have a discussion with you on the l atest on stage, " he says. "Theatre there is still meant for the masses and that's what we plan to do with this festival. "
With entries expected from across the world, the selection committee will zero in on about a 100 scripts. Selected on the basis of storyline, dialogue, character, theatricality and dramatic tension, the scripts will then be circulated among directors - both amateur and professional - who wish to be part of S+S. "They will pick the ones that appeal to them, " Dhamija says. "The idea is to experiment with different genres - be it satire or musicals. " He cites the example of Zorian Cross' The Coming Out, a play that people still talk about. "It's set in a parallel world in which being gay is the norm. So much so that when the son of a gay couple comes out to say he's straight, the family is left wondering where they went wrong, " he laughs. "So you can be sure the festival will have path-breaking and exciting voices that the theatre world will welcome with open arms. " The other award-winning plays include Alex Broun's Somewhere Between the Sky and the Sea, Rasik Chopra's Plan in Peril, Perfect Stillness by Australia's Jane Miller and Dhamija's Confessions of a Poet.
The seven plays will be staged on July 29 at LTG Auditorium, Delhi, at 7 pm. For details visit www. shortandsweet. org
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