By Vaida Wippermann

Returning to The Junction in Alserkal Avenue from 22nd January to 20th March, 2021, with a record 120+ plays, Short+Sweet 2021 Dubai will be showcasing 10 minute plays written by remarkable writers from not only all over the world but also enthusiastic thespians from the local theatre community.

DATE: 22nd January to 20th March, 2021

PRICE: Starting from 100 AED

PLACE: The Junction

Theatre Festival

What is Short+Sweet”?

It started in 2000 as a small festival of 10 minute plays in Sydney, Australia. Since then, Short+Sweet has developed into one of the most dynamic festivals in the world that brings together a zestful crowd of artists, performers, writers and directors. In 20 years, the festival has grown into an ever blooming flower in places like Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, India and the UAE. Today it is a global festival brand, bringing opportunity for local communities to beautify it’s stage with new and refreshing performances.

Photo courtesy of The Junction.

The mission of the festival is to build theatre-going audiences around the world.  In a limited to 10 minutes performances you can see everything from comedy to tragedy and all shades in between. Short+Sweet festival is one place where you can witness the new trends, cultural shocks, and eternal topics such as love, drama & thriller. Festival does not have a set framework for topics and the free participation allows even first timers to change their arm in the performing arts field alongside long standing professionals. Depending on the country the festival takes place, artists can compete in Theatre, Dance, Cabaret, Voice, Songs, Films, and Fast+Fresh for artists under age of 21. One rule that every performer, writer and director has to adhere to globally is 10 or less minutes duration. Performances have to be focused, tell the story, portray the theme within an extremely limited time period. Any time excess would result in warning or disqualification.

The festival is not only a platform to showcase your talent but also a competition. Industry experts together with the audience evaluate performances each night and bring forward the best performances for the semi-finals and finals. Culmination reaching the last Gala Finale week where the winners are nominated.

Photo courtesy of The Junction.

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Short+Sweet Dubai

Well, Short+Sweet is not so short …. in its duration: since 2013 when the festival found its home in Dubai, it has grown from two to eight super weeks. The ninth annual Short+Sweet Dubai Theatre Festival will include not only theatre, but poetry, music & stand-up comedy. The theme this year is “Hold The Stage”. The festival will be repeating its Regional Week (non-english play week) that was introduced in Short+Sweet 2018 and adding a week of Shakespeare plays thus having six weeks of 125 short tales before culminating to a challenging semi- finals and a more spectacular finals.

We have sat down to discuss an upcoming 2021 Short+Sweet festival with Mr. Gautam Goenka, the Artistic Director of The Junction. Mr. Goenka has admitted that he was overwhelmed to see an increasing buzz around the festival: The Junction has received over 120 applications for plays and over 350 directors, writers and production folks have registered for the festival.

Photo courtesy of The Junction.

Short+Sweet festival has become a great platform for new upcoming artists. While there are some returning artists that are already active in the community, the Short+Sweet provides an opportunity for new artists to come, to perform and familiarize with the scene. As Mr. Goenka admitted every year has a pool of new discoveries. Some excellent artists who came out from this festival became popular in the scene and the audience look forward to their plays. The most recent example was in the field of directing. Satyen Chandiramani has tried out his first plays in Short+Sweet festival last year and then went on to direct Reservoir Dogs, which was showcased in October, 2020and has become a smash hit.

No two festivals are the same and dynamics brings freshness and curiosity to the stage. However, Mr. Goenka shared that there are a couple predominant themes in Dubai – comedy and thriller seems to dominate the stage. In recent years he sees an increasing number of monologues and dramas. Also, he observed the emergence of a lot more locally written plays and that’s always a good indication that the writing capabilities in the city and the playwrights in the city are growing. Social themes dominate non-English plays. Artists tend to bring to the audience’s attention their home country crisis, such as lack of water, or social media overuse, violence and others.

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Jury and Audience decide the Winner

No matter the chosen topic and performance, all performances will be evaluated by the audience and judges. There will be anywhere between 10 to12 plays that get showcased in a night for seven weeks, with overall 14 plays brough ahead by judges and audience to perform in the gala finale. Everyone that has purchased a ticket to the festival has a right to vote for their favorite play. Judges consisting of experts in theatre field, movie making field, the field of performing arts, or eminent media journalists, or sponsors, have very clear criteria based on which they evaluate performances: 1) element of writing; 2) element of directing; 3) an element of acting; 4) and finally overall element of how all pieces have been put together. Each night there are certain plays that move ahead based on judges points and other plays that move ahead based on audience choice. All plays culminating and moving towards semi-finals and finals of the entire festival. The award categories are the overall best play of the festival both judges and audience choice, the best actor/actress, the best theatre company, the best debut for male and female in the category of acting, directing, writing, then the best writer. All of these are general categories, and then the best non-english play.

Photo courtesy of The Junction.

See You There!

More than anything else the world wide pandemic showed that nothing can be taken for granted. We at Hiba Art Project are excited and looking forward to the upcoming Short+Sweet festival 2021, the dynamic, colourful, blossoming flower enriching Dubai’s performing arts garden. The challenge for each writer, director and artist is to embody the emotion, pass the message, explore the topic just within 10 minutes. While every festival is different, this year Short+Sweet will be as never before and we are ready to cease the moment! 

Ticket Prices:

100 AED – Standard Individual Ticket
120 AED- Gala Finals Individual Ticket
150 AED – Red Carpet Gala Individual Ticket (Available for 20th March only)

For more information you can check The Junction website or call on 04 3388 525.

The Junction adheres to strict social distancing guidelines, no entries will be permitted without a mask.

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