The other day one of my students invited me to attend the ‘Short+Sweet’ Theatre festival she was participating in. I went along to the NCPA (National Centre for Performing Arts) at Nariman Point, Mumbai, to be introduced to a whole new world of plays.

The ‘Short+Sweet’ festivals have been running for about the last ten years. They started in Melbourne, Australia, with some new plays and inexperienced performers, putting 10 minute plays on stage. This idea, to introduce new writing, and showcase young performers, spread quickly, and now there are festivals all over the world, including: Sydney, Newcastle, Delhi and Singapore.

The way the festival works is as follows:

  • New plays are proposed to a board of artistic directors
  • Twenty of the best plays are chosen from the applicants
  • Rehearsals take place until the opening of the 7 day festival
  • Ten new plays are performed for the first 3 days of the festival. Audience members then vote for their one favourite play out of that ten.
  • Over the next three days ten other new plays are performed. Again, the audience votes for its one favourite play.
  • On the final day the top ten plays from the twenty are performed in a matinee performance. Voting happens again.
  • In the evening the ten short-listed plays perform one more time, voting happens for a final time, and then there is an awards ceremony.

As a teacher OR student you can use this idea or structure in the following ways:

IDEA 1: Create your own playwrighting competition as a class, and shortlist the final few for your own ‘Short+Sweet’ festival
IDEA 2: Give out the titles of the plays done in Mumbai’s festival as stimuli for devised pieces (see below)
IDEA 3: As students in one IB class be the production team for the festival and create roles for your IPP that includes performers, directors, designers, writers, technicians etc.
IDEA 4: Have the festival as a practice run for PPPs where each student has their own concept, design, vision and this is put into practice. The plays could all centre around the same stimulus. The impact on the audience could then  be determined and included in the rationale.

Titles at the Mumbai festival included:

  • ‘The Importance of a Hat’
  • ‘The Confessions of a Poet’
  • ‘He and She’
  • ‘Testing Waters’
  • ‘Somewhere between the sky and the sea’
  • ‘One Wish’
  • ‘Because the world needs unicorns’
  • ‘Beyond the window’
  • ‘Growing up’
  • ‘In the balance’
  • ‘100,000 cigarettes’