Short+Sweet Theatre Gala Finals

Short+Sweet Theatre Gala Finals
Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 20th March 2015

Short+Sweet Theatre’s Sydney 2015 Gala Final brought a whole new meaning to ‘all the awards’ with Tom Green’s Scratch taking away five of the eight awards presented on the night. 

The night showcased the top thirteen plays of the thousands submitted by budding and experienced writers, appropriately self nominated ‘the biggest little play festival in the world’. And they really mean it when they say ‘little’, as each play must develop a plot and characters and (hopefully) entertain their audience in just ten minutes! The thirteen plays were selected from the Top 80 and Wildcard divisions in eight previous weeks by an audience and a panel of informed judges.

Kicking off the performances was Gavin Vance’s Screamers!, a witty but messy political satire told through a camp appropriation of The Wizard of Oz. The standout line “How can you talk if you haven’t got a brain?” directed at Tony Abbott, Julia Gillard and the sea of other politicians on stage had the audience in hysterics within it’s new context. However it quickly fell flat with Jackie Vance’s rendition of ‘We Don’t Need Another Hero’ as a drag Aunty Entity, which felt as if it had been tacked on the end of the performance as a time filler. A perplexing move with only ten minutes to fill in the first place! 

My initial low expectations were eventually surpassed with Wish, the fifth performance of Act One, for which seventeen year old writer Bokkie Robertson took home one of the Best Newcomers awards. Ally Morgan as Stephanie, a terminally ill teenager, uses her final wish from the Make a Wish Foundation to meet her childhood hero Jack Grant. Christian Heath successfully executed this character’s transformation from insensitive narcissist to someone who actually makes her wish worthwhile. Such considerable character developments are hard to achieve within an hour long play, yet Heath accomplished this seamlessly in only ten minutes. This was truly a touching piece. 

This was followed by Manstruating - the title says it all really. A hilarious representation of relationships and the ridiculous excuses partners make in order to prove their feelings as equal. Emma Playfair carried the performance with her expert comic timing and deservedly took home the  award for Best Actress.

Black comedy Scratch then closed Act One with a (literal) bang. Opening with a man being tortured for an assumed heinous crime, the audience were inevitably surprised to discover this crime was even worse than they could have expected … he hasn’t returned his DVDs. With this quick witted, bitingly sarcastic script the audience definitely weren’t left scratching their heads over writer and director Tom Green’s receipt of Best Script, the Sam Gennochio Memorial Award for Best Director including a whopping $5000 cash, the Short+Sweet Award for Best Production and the People’s Choice Award. As if this production didn’t already know how amazing it was, James Sheppard as The Boss also took away the award for Best Actor. 

Highlights from Act Two included Transactions, an original concept which subverted the idea of going to a prostitute to escape marriage, as this man hires a prostitute to role play exactly that. Unforgettable, a realistic representation of pensioners Flo and Cecil and their touching yet hilarious experience with memory loss, and Wildcard winner Pee Buddies, a comedy dripping with homoerotic subtext as a desperate man enlists the help of his coworker to conquer his fear of peeing in the presence of others. 

These highlights were peppered with a few short but not all that sweet performances. Yet overall it was was an entertaining night showcasing some very promising new works which affirmed my faith in the Australian theatre scene. 

Emma Squires

Image: The cast and Crew of Scratch. Photographer Geoff Sirmai.

Award Winners

Best Actress (wins Double pass to Rotunda, Monologue Double Pass, IZBA)
Winner: Emma Playfair in Manstruating
presented by Pete Malicki, Festival Director

Best Actor (wins Double Pass to Rotunda, Monologue Double Pass, IZBA)
Winner: Drew Holmes in Unforgettable and Chance You Can Dance
Winner: James Shepherd in Scratch
presented by Pete Malicki, Festival Director

Best Script (wins $2500 Lighting Services, New Theatre Double Pass, IZBA
Scratch by Tom Green
presented by Alex Broun, Former Festival Director

Wildcards Winner (wins $2500 Lighting Services, Grounded Double Pass, Endgame Double Pass)
Pee Buddies by Shane Murphy, directed by John Emmett with Reece Lyndon and Scott Dias
presented by Alex Broun, Former Festival Director

Sam Gennochio Memorial Award for Best Director (wins $5000 Cash Prize)
Tom Green for Scratch
presented by Mark Cleary, Executive Director

Short+Sweet Award for Best Production (wins Double Pass to Two Peas, Double Pass to Pole Candy) Scratch, written and directed by Tom Green, starring James Shepherd, Jed Clarke, Richie P and Shaun A. Robinson
presented by Mark Cleary, Executive Director

Best Newcomer (Male) (wins TwoFeet Tour, New Theatre Double Pass, Hunter Valley Tour) Glenn Wanstall (director Positions Vacant, actor Milton, Another Day Out with the Mates
presented by Alana Teasdale, Festival Coordinator

Best Newcomer (Female) (wins TwoFeet Tour, New Theatre Double Pass, Hunter Valley Tour)
17 year old Bokkie Robertson, writer of Wish
presented by Alana Teasdale, Festival Coordinator

People's Choice Winner (wins NYFA Filmmaking Course, Gold Pass Comedy Store)
Scratch written and directed by Tom Green, starring James Shepherd, Jed Clarke, Richie P and Shaun A. Robinson
presented by Sam Nardo,GM Factory Theatre.

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