Short+Sweet Theatre Festival

BRIDGET JONES
Last updated 05:00 19/09/2012
DANIEL GALVIN\Fairfax NZ

The Short+Sweet Theatre Festival is on at The Herald Theatre until October 7.

Short And Sweet Theatre Fest
QUICK FIRE: The Short+Sweet Theatre Festival features 50 ten-minute plays.

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How bored can you get in 10 minutes? How quickly can you fall in love with something?

The Short+Sweet Theatre Festival, which opened last night, will test just what and how an audience can feel in 600 seconds.

Described as the fast and furious festival of theatre, 50 plays, all 10 minutes long, will be performed over three weeks, culminating in a gala finale where the best of the festival will be celebrated.

It is now in its third year in Auckland, and festival director Jonathan Hodge says it is the variety that is the festival's greatest strength.

"It's great because you'll get 10 minutes of a play and then you move onto something new.  And you can go from comedy to high drama to melodrama to musical all in one night.

"You get to try a lot of different varieties and styles, and if it's something you don't like, it's only another nine minutes until the next play - just sit it out and wait for the next one."

Short+Sweet started in Australia, but now runs all over the world. In this year's local programme there are plays from across the Tasman, the US, Canada and New Zealand.

Actor Ben Barrington, who starred in TV3's Almighty Johnsons, plays a suicidal superhero in Super Side, complete with Lycra costume.

He says for him, the festival is like going back in time.

"It's a real thrill to be involved. It's like Smokefree Stage Challenge all over again - there's people running around backstage with snips and making costumes at the last minute and yelling at each other. So it's fast and furious theatre... there's a real crazy, seat-of-your-pants element to it."

Barrington will be joined in the festival by other familiar faces including Alison Bruce, Bruce Hopkins, Renee Lyons, Tainui Tukiwaho and Liesha Ward Knox. But Hodge says it is the unfamiliar that often emerge as the stars of the programme.

Last year's winner A Stitch in Time - a musical about a bomb detonation team - by Independent theatre company Sampson Richards Frederic Productions, was given the opportunity to perform in Melbourne's Short+Sweet festival where they won both the people's choice and the Judges' Choice in the Wildcard section.

And it is at the gala finale on October 7 that the excitement comes to a head; the night where the cream of the crop will rise to the top and the best of the fest will be named.

But it's not just a panel of experts who make the call - although they do have a say.  Every member of the audience will have the chance to pick their favourite over the course of the festival.

And Hodge's advice for spotting a winner is simple.

"I think a good play is fast and interesting and it keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time."

Short+Sweet Theatre Festival

WHERE: The Herald Theatre, Auckland

WHEN: runs until October 7

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