The Short+Sweet Dubai Theatre Festival, presented by Korath Group and supported by Dubai Culture, closed to rapturous applause at DUCTAC in the Mall of the Emirates on Saturday night February 28th with Tréteau, a joyous celebration of theatre created by visionary writer/director Sanjeev Dixit for Third Half Theatre, going home with a clutch of the top awards at the Red Carpet Gala Final.
Sell-out crowds at the Gala Final weekend welcomed back the 11 best 10-minute plays of the festival, as voted by judges and audiences over the four weeks of the Festival. With almost 70 theatrical masterpieces having been brought to life by over 250 of the best of Dubai’s actors, writers and directors, judges at the Gala Final had an incredibly tough task deciding which of the crème-de-la-crème of the Dubai’s theatre world would receive the festival’s top honours.
Tréteau took out the two top honours of the night – Best Overall Production, as voted for by the judging panel, as well as the People’s Choice Award, for the audience’s favourite play.
Dixit was personally named Best Director for the play’s engaging and thoroughly unique staging, superbly performed by an ensemble cast of Shereen Saif, Minali Patel, Ushma Shah Jasuja, Cmith Sarkar, Dharam Veer Sood, Siddarth Sivaprakash and Sunil Jasuja.
Dixit also took out the Best Script award for his inventive and highly imaginative text which celebrated a pure love of theatre, an award he shared with Mike Green for the hilarious Noir-hommage, The Bronx Budgie.
Sanjeev said of the play and his achievements: ‘The amazing part about this year's Gala Final was that eight out of the eleven finalists were locally written original productions. This was by far the best opportunity for a locally written play to win Short+Sweet in its three year history. All of us at Third Half Theatre are honoured to be the first to earn this milestone. Here's to many more locally written plays shining through in the years to come’.
The Best Actor award went to Asad Raza Khan, proving his reputation as one of Dubai’s best actors, for his mesmerizing performance in Australian Carl J Sorheim’s powerful drama It’s All the Rage. Mike Green also picked up a second award for Best Actor Runner-Up, for his performance as the thoroughly bemused Borden in the fractured fairy-tale, Rub-a-dub-dub.
In the feel good story of the Festival, the Best Actress award went to Dubai-based Yasmina Kici Khattar, who acted, wrote and directed her play La Marie Vison, a warm and immersive portrayal of an old lady clinging onto her battered fur coat and her memories of love, joy and sadness. Best Actress Runner-Up went to Ankita Manikantan for Backstage who had audiences in hysterics with her portrayal of a woman suffering the hormonal fluctuations of her boyfriend in Manstruating, a play which she also directed.
Backstage underlined their status as Dubai’s top community theatre company, winning Best Independent Theatre Company for the second year running, after a stunning contribution to the Festival which saw four Backstage productions reach the Gala Final – The Bronx Budgie, The Ithica Project, Manstruating and It’s All the Rage.
Other local Theatre Companies represented on the night were Loom Ensemble, The Ripple Effect and Dubai’s top performing arts high school – the American School of Dubai.
The American School of Dubai featured in the awards with Keenan Shuman taking home the Best New Talent award for his heart-warming and very funny performance in The Secret Origin of the Mojo Man, presented by ASD.
Liz Hadaway, Festival Director of Short+Sweet Dubai said: “Just a few years ago, there was little opportunity for theatre companies and independent actors, writers and directors to set themselves a challenge, collaborate and demonstrate to a wide audience exactly what they are capable of. Since its start three years ago, Short+Sweet Dubai has given the local theatre community this opportunity. Judges this weekend told me they struggled to judge such a high, professional standard of work across the 11 plays. As Short+Sweet continues to grow and attract the best of the best, we hope to be able to show more of Dubai what it’s missing”.
The full list of nominees and winners for the Gala Final of Short+Sweet Dubai 2015 are as follows:
Thanks to our judges: Tabitha Clendon (American University of Dubai); Penny Mackenzie (Director, Producer, Arts Blogger); Julian Pletts (Editor, Dubai Week); David Light (Theatre Reviewer, Khaleej Times); Yasser Al Gergawi (Acting Head of Events and Performing Arts, Dubai Culture); Margarette Connor (Professor, American University of Dubai); Meera Al Midfa (Actor); Amanda Fisher (Journalist), Steve Lorrigan (Actor)
PRESENTER: MARK CLEARY, Executiveand Artistic Director of Short+Sweet International
BEST INDEPENDENT THEATRE COMPANY
American School of Dubai
The Loom Ensemble
The Ripple Effect
Third Half Theatre
BEST NEW TALENT
Keenan Shuman, Clara Harter and Sami Malas for acting in The Secret Origin of the Mojo Man
Lydia Maskall for acting in The Wish and Hypnosia
Nikhat Rafiq for Writing and Directing Unpredictable and acting in Rub-a-dub-dub
Jad Rouphael for acting in The Bronx Budgie
Muhammad Sarim Irfan for writing and directing The Perfect Match
Mehreen Ali and Niharika Pathak for acting in The Perfect Match
Aishwarya Shivkumar and Joshua Johnson for writing, directing and performing in This Woman’s Mind
Ryan Kayello and Dhruti Shah for writing and performing in Starry Little Stories
Winner Keenan Shuman for acting in The Secret Origin of the Mojo Man
PRESENTER: Mr Yasser Al Gergawi – Acting Project and Events Director at Dubai Culture
Pascal Buyse (Starry Little Stories)
Sanjeev Dixit (Treteau)
Gautam Goenka (It’s All the Rage)
Ankita Mankitan (Manstruating)
Aishwarya Shivkumar and Joshua Johnson (This Woman’s Mind)
Winner Sanjeev Dixit (Treteau)
BEST SCRIPT (UAE WRITERS ONLY)
Arjun Burman (The Ithica Project)
Sanjeev Dixit (Treteau)
Mike Green (The Bronx Budgie)
Mina Kici Khattar(La Marie Vison)
Ryan Kayello and Dhruti Shah (Starry Little Stories)
Winner A TIE between Sanjeev Dixit (Treteau) and Mike Green (The Bronx Budgie)
PRESENTER Mr Advet Bhambani – Executive Chairman and CEO of Lifeline
Celia Cookson (The Bronx Budgie)
Lisa Harter (Rub-a-dub-dub)
Mina Kici Khattar(La Marie Vison)
Ankita Manikantan (Manstruating)
Runner-Up Ankita Manikantan (Manstruating)
Winner Mina Kici Khattar (La Marie Vison)
PRESENTER: Mr Riyaz Korath – CEO of The Korath Group
Mike Green (Rub-a-dub-dub)
Asad Raza Khan (It’s All the Rage)
Ali Asgar Raja (Manstruating)
Keenan Shuman (The secret origin of the Mojo Man)
Runner-Up Mike Green (Rub-a-dub-dub)
Winner Asad Raza Khan (It’s All the Rage)
PEOPLE’S CHOICE WINNER for the Audience’s Favourite play
3rd Place Manstruating
Runner Up La Marie Vison
BEST OVERALL PRODUCTION as voted by our Judges
IT’S ALL THE RAGE
THE SECRET ORIGIN OF THE MOJO MAN
THIS WOMAN’S MIND