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Theatre Season Announcement | Short+Sweet Illawarra 2023

Short+Sweet Illawarra Theatre returns for its fifth year with a Top 20 Season of ten-minute theatre.

The Illawarra will once again be the host of an incredible line-up of short-form theatre in 2023. Twenty-two plays will take place over two weeks in August with cast and crew from the local region and Sydney, as well as Short+Sweet Illawarra Theatre’s first-ever international entrant.

As in previous years, audience members alongside a panel of special industry judges will vote on the best plays in both the Week One and Week Two line-ups, who will then advance to the the first-ever Illawarra Gala Final Showcase on the 26-27th August, and the rejuvenated Short+Sweet Sydney Theatre Festival in early 2024.

A staggering number of local and state-based scripts were made available to the festival’s registered theatre directors, alongside top-rated national and international scripts. Fifteen of the twenty plays that will be staged this year have come from that shortlist, either nominated by directors or staged by the writers themselves, and eleven of these have come from the Illawarra.


Included in the Illawarra line-up is MIRROR TALK from The Wares. Written and directed by Brannon Ware, and directed by Tegan Ware, about a man who confronts his inner thoughts after returning home from a bad day. This is one of the many plays in the festival submitted and staged as an Independent Theatre Company production.

YOU SHOULD SEE A DOCTOR comes from Paperboy Productions, about an older woman in the modern world trying to make a doctor’s appointment. Written by Brendan Bate and directed by Melissa Richards.

THE COLOURS IN THE FLAMES, again by Paperboy Productions, tells the story of two strangers who meet at a train station one evening and the challenges in their lives are laid bare. Written and directed by Brendan Bate.

The Phoenix Theatre Company presents THE WAITING ROOM, written by Damon Bishop and directed by Steen. Mitch’s life is turned upside down when he learns his girlfriend of just three months is pregnant. As he sits in the waiting room he reflects on the relationship he has with his own father, what kind of father he is going to be for his child, or even if he’s ready to be a father at all. Steen is also owner of the Bridge Street Theatre, primary partner and host venue for Short+Sweet Illawarra.

Another play by the Phoenix Theatre Company is THE QUILT. Written by Linda Campbell and once again directed by Steen, THE QUILT is about how sometimes, in unexpected ways, things will find their way back to you.

WORLDS is about a phone call between two women that captures a fragile, fleeting moment in time of healing from addiction. Directed by Tanzeal Rahim and written by the prolific Katrina Samaras, a returning entrant in the festival.

From Exhibition B Productions comes CHICK O’CLOCK. Health inspections are never easy, but things can get even more complicated when there’s a dead body in your freezer. Written and directed by Billie Prescott.

NORMALITY is written and directed by Donatella Parise. When your soulmate is terminally ill, you’ll do anything to help. But what if all they want is for life to keep going and everything to be normal?

A couple is in for quite a shock in TRUST ISSUES, also written by Donatella Parise, and directed by Tammy Kisela and Caterina Loss.

Three of the Illawarra plays come from Black Box Productions’ run of 24 Hour Theatre, held earlier this year. Entrants of 24 Hour Theatre are given the opportunity to adapt their scripts to fit the ten-minute Short+Sweet format for submission into Short+Sweet Illawarra Theatre. Three pieces from 24 Hour Theatre have been brought into this year's Short+Sweet Illawarra, and some have a fresh new name! The three plays this year are LIKE STARS EXPLODING, SOMEBODY THAT I USED TO KNOW and HAROLD & SAMUEL.

LIKE STARS EXPLODING is an introspective piece about third-year university student Pippa, who grapples with the impermanence of life and love, and the struggle to find meaning in a world where everyone seems to be just going through the motions. Written and directed by Tilly Kidd and directed by Jasmin Shojai.

SOMEBODY THAT I USED TO KNOW is written and directed by Bernadette Le Mesurier. At school Imraan played the field, but now he looks back he realises that one old flame might hold the key to his happiness.

Set in Paris in 1961 comes HAROLD AND SAMUEL, based on a true story and written and directed by Tom Peach.

Alongside Short+Sweet Illawarra Theatre’s impressive local line-up are a number of travelling plays from the Greater Sydney region, Newcastle, rural New South Wales, the ACT and an international entrant from Germany.

Festival director Luke Berman remarks positively about this influx of talent to the region.

“Our theatre festival is still connecting with our local artists, and we remain focused on using Short+Sweet as part of the Illawarra’s rich theatrical artistic infrastructure. But this year we’re seeing that it’s doing so much more. It’s breaking borders more than it has before. People are travelling to work with us, they have been for years. We’re bringing people to The Gong. Really, really talented people.”

The first of these travelling plays is AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION, written by Andrew Thomson and directed by Kenzie Devai. Two first-time criminals try to rob a theatre. Unfortunately however, one of them is recognised by an old friend in the audience and unwittingly becomes part of the show.

An old man is listening to Mozart when Death pays a visit in DEATH POPS IN, written by Bart Meehan and directed by David Attrill.

Written by Mark Konik and directed by Luke Denvir is DOES THE MEANS JUSTIFY THE END? About a poor girl named Julie who accidentally finds herself on the set of Australia’s favourite existential game show of the same name.

From Mandolin Theatre comes THE EDITOR, about two writers vying for favour from an editor to have their stories published. Written and directed by Darrell Hoffman.

A recent graduate becomes increasingly obsessed with a social media influencer who preaches self-care, self-love and the importance of being the protagonist in MAIN CHARACTER ENERGY, written and directed by Freia Kirkaldy.

BANANA GIRL is a powerful, complex piece of theatre melding poetry and performance in a gripping monologue that explores issues of displacement felt by second generation Asian Australians traversing dual cultures in a fresh and resonant way. Written and directed by Paris Rose.

Written and directed by Zoë Harvey from Torrid Films comes THE CONCIERGE. As a journalist, working with words is Justin’s thing. But on the occasion of his biggest celebrity interview yet he’s stymied, stalled and mired in a euphemistic hell by a crotchety, old hotel concierge.

BENEFITS is about a young woman attempting to apply for Newstart Allowance, who is bemused by the bizarre antics of the Centrelink employees and the bewildering logistics involved in making a claim. Written and directed by Lisa Walmsley.

Two sisters catch up after their mother’s funeral with past resentments in THE DUTIFUL DAUGHTER, written by Suzy Wilds and directed by Georgia Britt and Alice Bendall.

And finally, all the way from Düsseldorf Germany, comes SEEDS IN YOUR POCKET. Written and directed by Fiona Leonard this swashbuckling tale is of a swordsman, undefeated on the duelling field, who scandalised the world with her life and passions.

The Short+Sweet Illawarra Theatre Festival will take place over two weeks, with Week One performances held on the 10-12th August and Week Two performances on the 17-19th August. The Gala Final Showcase, which will include the best acts from theatre, cabaret, voices and dance, will be on the 25-26th August.

More news and booking information is available via ShortandSweet.org/illawarra

For general festival enquiries contact luke.berman@shortandsweet.org