fresh and sweet

Short and Sweet

Short and Sweet (Short & Sweet, or sometimes Short+Sweet) is a short play competition originating in Sydney, Australia. Billed as "the biggest little theatre competition in the world", over 200 new 10-minute plays are premiered each year as part of the competition in Sydney, Melbourne and Singapore. Festivals are expected to begin in other cities, including London and several in North America, from 2009.

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.


Short + Sweet begins with the submission of scripts. Hundreds of playwrights, professional and amateur alike, submit their scripts to a particular season. Each season in each city runs as a separate competition, and entrants and even finalists from one competition are permitted to enter their script in another season. Some scripts are created through workshops or development programs run by Short and Sweet. Playwrights may submit as many scripts as they like, but only one script per playwright will be performed. Another restriction is that the plays cannot have been previously performed in the city hosting that particular Short + Sweet (for example a play that has been performed in Melbourne may be entered to Sydney Short + Sweet and vice-a-versa). Many plays go on to be performed at various Short + Sweets (eg. Hope Fades But The Duck Never Dies by Jane Miller - Sydney 2007 and Melbourne 2007, The Example by Tom Taylor - Melbourne 2005 and Sydney 2006, Paradise by Steven Hopley - Sydney 2005 and Melbourne 2006, Sleepless Night by Jonathan Gavin Melbourne 2006 and Singapore 2008).

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.

Regional differences

There are minor differences in the rules for the competition in the different cities. In Melbourne directors who have written scripts that make the short-list may choose to direct their own play, but in Sydney writers are not permitted to do so (though they may direct another play). All plays entered for Singapore, Malaysia and Melbourne are automatically considered for the following year's Sydney competition as well.

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
Sydney 2001 5 weeks Jan-Feb ~300 90 40
Melbourne 2005 3 weeks Nov-Dec ~100 30 30
Singapore 2007 4 weeks June ~60 30 (in English) + 10 (in Mandarin) 20


A number of other projects have been created under the banner of Short and Sweet:

  • Shorter and Sweeter is a touring showcase of the best plays from the Short and Sweet competition.
  • Fast and Fresh is a 10-minute theatre competition for participants under the age of 18. It premiered in 2005.
  • Short and Sweet and Dance is a 10-minute dance works competition. It premiered in 2007.
  • Short and Sweet and Song is a 10-minute musical competition premiering in Sydney in 2008.


Many notable Australian playwrights, directors, actors and independent theatre companies have participated in Short and Sweet.


Independent theatre companies


External links

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