The Sour Grapes of Wrath: A Short&Sweet Festival reader
Firstly, from The Arts Centre web site, about the 2005 festival.
Described as the “Tropfest of Theatre”, this innovative, raw and contemporary play festival was first presented at Newtown Theatre in 2002. Over the last four years it has grown into the world’s largest ten-minute play festival. Now, the Arts Centre hosts Victoria’s first Short & Sweet play festival.Mark Cleary, artistic director encourages anyone to have a go, “…no experience in writing for the stage is necessary, in fact Short & Sweet encourages those who have never written for the theatre to pick up a pen and write a play. Who knows you might just be the next David Mamet or Joanna Murray-Smith! While all plays in the festival are presented simply, with few sets or props, there is no limit on characters or restriction on style, theme or content – plenty of room for creativity and freedom of expression.” [my emphasis]
From The Australian, cited here.
“…an annual smorgasbord of snappy plays proudly catering to audiences with the attention span of a goldfish”
Short & Sweet was conceived by Mark Cleary and first produced at Newtown Theatre. This is from http://www.shortandsweet.org/
Short & Sweet starts with a call for entries from playwrights and independent theatre companies, followed by director interviews and actor auditions, and culminates in a festival of a selection of plays. The festival is capped with a Gala Final at which fabulous prizes are awarded in various categories.
Short & Sweet has helped launch and further the careers of countless theatre professionals – playwrights, directors, actors, designers and technicians – and lifted the profile of many independent theatre companies.
There are several components to the festival:
* Call for entries playwrights from around the world.
* Proposals from independent theatre companies.
* Expressions of interest and interviews with directors.
* Expressions of interest and auditions with actors.
* Performances of the shortlisted plays.
Short & Sweet Melbourne 2006 will be produced and performed at the Arts Centre. Performances: 27 November to 17 December, 2006
Short & Sweet Sydney 2007 will be performed at Newtown Theatre and Seymour Centre Downstairs Theatre.
Performances: 16 January to 18 February, 2007, followed by the Gala Final in the York Theatre, Seymour Centre on 2 March 2007.
Now, I respect Ming-Zhu’s choice to take down her post, so I won’t reproduce it here. I would like to point out, however, that six or seven Anonymous comments were made late on the afternoon of December 5 which, apparently, quoted feedback sent directly to Short & Sweet. It’s impossible to determine where these messages came from, but I think it’s fair to say that their release had to have been authorised -- or made -- by someone involved in the administration of Short & Sweet.
Here is the email sent to various Short & Sweet participants:
From: "Bryan Innocent"
Date: 5 December 2006 6:51:59 PM
Subject: Short & Sweet under attack
Amazingly one of the actors in Top 30, Week 3 of Short & Sweet has launched a scathing attack on Short & Sweet in a blog titled - Long And Acrid. You can find it at:
The basic premise is that the standard of work in Top 30 Week 1 - which most people thought was pretty good - was so poor she is calling on the whole festival to be scrapped and is now ashamed to be a part of it.
One of the Arts Centre Trustees stumbled on this and they are taking what she says into consideration - and are seriously considering the future continuance of the festival.
So if you disagree with her, enjoyed your Short & Sweet experience and think Short & Sweet should continue you need to visit her blog and let her know not everyone agrees.
The Arts Centre is monitoring the blog and whether Short & Sweet continues or not may well be decided by how many people get on to her blog and disagree with her.
So if you want Short & Sweet to continue please go to her blog now and let her know what you think:
If you want Short & Sweet to continue - act now.
Thanks for your time.
The flaming at Mink Tails began approximately 45 minutes later.
This one is verbatim. Assume there is a “(sic)” every few words...
This makes me so mad. Who gives you the righ tto decide what is good and what is bad ? Especially when you have been involved in some of the worse shows I have seen in the lasrt couple of years. Metamorphosis at the Malthouse - that was dreadful. As a week one writer I am deeply hurt and I might be acting a little knee jerk here but what makes you "the high priest of a scred art". Can't wait for your "contribution" in Week 3? If the Festival's sop bad why do you stay involved. Short & Sweet is better and more exciting that half of the crap I see at the MTC and Malthouse - accept what id directed by Julian Meyrick who is very talented. [Posted by Anonymous 5 December 2006 7:35:49 PM]
The “Well, derr!” line of the day has to be this one: “You only speak for yourself Mig (sic) - stop commenting for other people.”
Who says the industry at large is appalled at the standard ? There was a whole panel of media who came in to the first week who were all very impressed - just ask the publicists. In fact everyone who saw the first week was very impressed. Who are these legion of people who are so disgusted at the standard ? Ming Zhu and Chris Boyd - who hasn't even been this year !!! You only speak for yourself Mig - stop commenting for other people. [Anonymous 7:38:59 PM]
Another mighty contribution to the debate came moments later:
Are you just bitter about not getting any paid work ? Probably cause you're such a hopeless actress !!! [Anonymous 7:50:40 PM]
The intelligent and highly literate abuse continued:
I can't believe that this whole tirade has started because some forgettable actor watched a dress rehearsal. [Anonymous 8:02:49 PM]
What a terribly important opinion you are. [Anonymous 8:17:22 PM]
And cop this for clear thinking:
I'm sorry to be anonymous but there is so much venom here I'm surely afraid of being poisoned... [Anonymous 8:17:22 PM, again]
I’m guessing this one came from a school teacher:
[Ming-Zhu] can't avoid responsibility for her actions. And when someone uses the internet as a way to punish a group of hard working actors, writers and directors who are trying to lift themselves up by their bootstraps and at least do something. [Anonymous 9:09:34 PM] [my emphasis]
There were a small number of passionate, thoughtful and constructive remarks (from Adam Cass and Avi) which really attempted to advance debate while disputing Ming-Zhu’s criticism of Short & Sweet, and some gallant contributions from Ben Ellis in the U.K., but these were lost in the vile, abusive, bullying tidal wave.
The debate continues under the watchful eye of Alison Croggon, at Theatre Notes.
UPDATE: see also assessments by Daniel Schlusser and James Comtois.