The competition began in Sydney in 2001 at a single venue, the Newtown Theatre, and has steadily gained in popularity and size, now encompassing a second venue, the Seymour Centre. The Melbourne competition began in 2005 and is produced by the Arts Centre. It began at the Black Box theatre, moving to the Fairfax Studio in 2006. The Singapore competition premiered in June 2007, and is presented at The Arts House and the Esplanade Theatres on the Bay. It features plays in Mandarin as well as English.
Short and Sweet is currently coordinated in Sydney by playwright Van Badham and in Melbourne by playwright Alex Broun (also the Artistic Coordinator for Short and Sweet International). Nicole Stinton is the Festival Director and Dean Lundquist is the Associate Festival Director for the Short+Sweet Singapore 2008 festival. Mark Cleary is the overall artistic director for Short and Sweet International.
The submitted plays are assessed by a panel of judges and a short-list is announced. Directors are invited to participate in the competition, and select plays from the short-list. Short and Sweet runs two programmes: a one-week season of performances known as the "Top X" plays, and a programme of one-off matinee performances known as the "Wildcards". Directors are assigned to one programme or the other, with lesser known or less experienced directors usually assigned to the Wildcards. The "Top" directors are given preference over the Wildcards.
The directors then cast their plays from open auditions for the competition as a whole. These are usually broken down by age range and gender, with directors attending the audition sessions for the ages and genders they require for their chosen script.
In addition to script submissions, independent theatre companies can also submit works to be considered for inclusion in the competition. Companies present an entire play, providing their own script, director and actors; such productions may be accepted into either the Top or Wildcard categories.
The competition also operates on a different scale in each city. In Sydney it presents over 100 plays, and its success and popularity there may be due in part to Sydney's lack of a Fringe Festival. Melbourne is substantially smaller, but offers an equal number of Top plays and Wildcards; Singapore has the same number of Top plays as Melbourne but a smaller Wildcard programme, as well as a selection of plays in Mandarin.
|City||Began||Duration||Usual dates||Shortlisted plays||"Top X" plays||Wildcard plays|
|Singapore||2007||4 weeks||June||~60||30 (in English) + 10 (in Mandarin)||20|