What provides you rollercoaster excitement, edge of the seat thrills and instant catharsis in a public place? We are talking about the theatre equivalent of instant cricket. Purists may balk at Short + Sweet, the quick format plays that are a rage in Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and New Zealand, but the expectation of watching edgy, quirky productions where the audience is thrown into the deep end has Delhi’s audiences and theatre practitioners excited.
“I love the idea,” says seasoned director Feisal Alkazi. “People are tired of two-hour plays that plod along. The audience needs to be challenged constantly,” says the man behind Ruchika Theatre. “It may not appeal to connoisseurs, but it’s likely to get the university crowd excited,” he adds.
Launched in Sydney in 2002, the festival works on a simple premise: Each play is 10 minutes or less. A short play grips you at the outset and doesn’t let go till the final second. Consider Russell Crowe, Gupta and The Dalek, directed by Jackie Greenland. Performed at the Sydney chapter of the festival this year, it brings together an actor, a taxi driver and a space alien on a cab ride to side-splitting eternity. For the uninitiated, Daleks are a fictional, extraterrestrial race of mutants from the British sci-fi TV series Doctor Who. These are the kind of comedies that the organisers of Short + Sweet fest dig, says its Sydney-based director Alex Broun.
“We consider plays on five criteria — character, story, dialogue, humour and theatricality. Of these, the most important is theatricality. Writers need to remember they are writing for a live audience.”
Over the next month, the Delhi chapter of the festival will pick writers, directors and actors for a series of plays in November.
M Sayeed Alam of Pierrot’s troupe likens quickie theatre to T20 cricket. “Like ghazals, where the number of couplets is limited, it teaches economy of words. It is bound to be a hit.” Would you still prefer a boring Test match over the highlights package?
short+Sweet theatre fest
November 10-13, India Habitat Centre; November 17-20, Epicentre, Gurgaon