Director M Sayeed Alam, a veteran in the theatre world who has given the audience plays like Ghalib in New Delhi, Big B and Cut, Cut, Cut among others, has for the first time directed a play for the Short+Sweet theatre festival. The festival that took the concept of a traditional theatre and turned it into an instant-noodle format — or as the organisers call it, a T20 version. Ask Alam about his experience of the format and he laughs saying, “Before the audience could even settle down the play was over.” Alam believes it is a good experiment. “However, short and sweet is not an alternative to the longer version, nor is the longer version for the shorter one,” he adds.
Duration of plays has decreased from the lengthy five-act tragedies of the Shakespearean era to a running time of 90 minutes now, with adequate breaks. But can you really tell a story, in all its complexity and nuance, in 10 minutes?
That is where the philosophy of Short+Sweet comes in — a festival whose only rule is to wrap up a play in ten minutes or less. “You don’t get the time to settle in, establish the characters or the plot. It’s just about the climax and you have to quickly reach there,” says Deepak Dhamija, festival director of Short+Sweet Delhi chapter.
It started as a small festival in Sydney, Australia, later spreading across the globe with chapters in India, New Zealand, Malaysia, Philippines and Dubai. Introduced in India in 2010, these short plays are picking up, with seasoned and amateur directors and writers taking it up.
“The festival has now become a nice platform for groups like us or individuals. Earlier most plays were by established theatre groups, now it has a good mix of fresh groups as well,” says Dhwani Vij, whose company is participating in the festival for the first time. It is an entirely different experience, feels Dhamija. “At one moment you are watching a Dastangoi, then you have a musical, next is a comedy or a hard-hitting play based on a Manto story. So, with 40 different plays, you’re getting many flavours in one evening.”
When: 7pm, Saturday, October 31 and Sunday, November 1
Where: Epicentre, Apparel House, Sector 44, Gurgaon
When: 7pm, Saturday, November 7
Where: India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road