Short + Sweet Manila festival director Divya Rajan-Sriram (left) and producer Vaishali Ray (right) with participants. The first Short + Sweet Manila last year ran for three weekends in UP Diliman. PHOTO FROM SHORT + SWEET MANILA
Short + Sweet Manila is back, this time in a bigger mall as venue, with more shows and a morning master class series.
Established in Australia, Short + Sweet is a theater festival which presents sets of 10-minute plays. It’s like a theater degustation, with each play carefully chosen for its on-point flavor.
The second Short + Sweet Manila will run weekends from Sept. 5-27 in Samsung Hall, SM Aura Premier. For this year, it has a balanced mix of comedy, rom-com and drama in each set—all bite-size but meaty.
A set has nine to 10 plays and runs for two and a half hours with intermission. Expect a new play to start after a quick 20-second set change.
There are two categories: Main Shows and Wild Cards.
Vaishali Ray, festival producer, says the Main Shows are a mix of materials from the Short + Sweet database of scripts, and originals from Filipino playwrights. She and festival director Divya Rajan-Sriram asked playwrights to submit their works, and from there, they chose which ones would make it to the sets.
The Wild Cards, meanwhile, includes entries that have been submitted late, but are “too good to throw out.”
“Short + Sweet is about giving opportunity, and not so much about experience,” Ray explains. “We match the plays with the director, who can be anyone who has dedication.”
There are over 30 plays in the Main Shows. We are looking forward to watching “Beatrix Potter Must Die,” written by Patrick Gabridge, directed by Mark Benjamin Marcos; “Divine” by Carlo Pacolor, directed by James Harvey Estrada; “Lunes” by Bernalyn Sastrillo, directed by Patricia Mikaela Dacanay; “Takipsilim” by Christian Vallez, directed by Blanche Louise Buhia; “Pertsym Beh” by Karl Jinco, directed by Ely Concord III; “Si Nelson, ang Nanay, ang Pancit Canton,” by Vladimeir Gonzales, directed by John Mark Yap.
Among the 18 Wild Cards are “Umaawit ang Puso” by Mark Norman Boquiren, directed by Patricia Mikaela Dacanay; “Alas Dose” by Nicko de Guzman, directed by Joash Soriano; “News to Me” by Graham Yates, directed by Rachel Coates; and “Raghead” by Tom Coash, directed by Ayana Chatterjee and Kamna Gupta.
Ray and Sriram can be called theater “enablers;” they have tapped students, newbies and housewives to participate in the festival either as director, actor or playwright. Both of them have worked in the Indian edition of Short + Sweet before bringing the festival to Manila.
Short + Sweet aims to build a community, says Ray: “If they have the material, we can help them find directors. If they need actors, we hold auditions, and we can guarantee that they have an audience to watch their shows.”
These compact plays require minimal staff or resources. There’s no need for a stage manager, assistant directors, big costumes or elaborate sets. It’s a way to let people dip their toes in theater. From there, they can go on exploring bigger productions.
The first Short+Sweet last year had full-house shows running for two weekends at the University of the Philippines’ Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero Theater. Now that Short + Sweet runs four weekends in a more accessible venue, Shiram is looking at tapping mall-goers as theatergoers. The plays, after all, can be enjoyed by families, dating couples and theater lovers alike.
“It’s also perfect for first-time theatergoers because each play lasts for just 10 minutes,” Shiram adds. “Before you realize that the play has started, it’s over and we’re done telling the story.”
Ray says that Short + Sweet is also a competition, so at the end of the festival, there will be a Grand Gala Finale where the best plays chosen by the audience and “mystery judges” will be staged.
“After watching the shows, you’ll realize there are many things that can happen in 10 minutes. It’s not that short!” she says.
Last year, the play “Death in 10 Minutes” by Joem Antonio won Best Play. This year, he will be facilitating the Master Class on “Compact Scriptwriting” that teaches participates how to write a script within the 10-minute limit.
Master Classes will be held 10 a.m.-12 nn, also in Samsung Hall. Fee is P500 per class. (E-mail [email protected])
Other Short+Sweet classes are: “Voice for the Theater” by Jeremy Domingo, Sept. 5; “Discovering the Art of Puppetry through Acting Shakespeare,” by Ami Ramolete, Sept. 12; “Optimal Breathing Techniques,” by Jac Vidgen, Sept. 13; “Shakespeare Master-Class,” by Nicanor Campos and Christine Cojuangco, Sept. 19; and “Movement in Drama,” by Aruna Viswadoss, Sept. 20.
Tickets are from P530-P1,060. For schedules, visit www.facebook.com/ShortSweetMNL, smtickets.com.