St. John’s Shorts: A Festival of Short Plays

"Where else will you see works from emerging local authors (Dunne, Ivany, Aylward, Gillis) along side classical pieces (Shaw, Strindberg), contemporary playwrights (Durang, Frayn) and a kids show?"

Appropriately titled St. John’s Shorts, this unique festival of short plays consists of ten short plays performed over ten short days. 

Launching today, this unprecedented event was produced by the collaboration of eleven theatre companies and will take place in the Barbara Barrett Theatre at the Arts & Culture Centre in St. John’s. Each night, two plays will show at 7:00 pm, two more at 9:30 pm, and on Saturday and Sunday, an addition of children’s theatre will show at 4:00 pm.

Why did this group of writers, actors, directors, designers, and producers decide to only include plays that are “short” in this unique roster? According to Patrick Foran, an actor in Village Wooing, the short play format (under one hour in length) allows several companies to be in one theatre working in repertory.

Jackie Hynes, director of The Stronger, describes how, “among the companies/producers involved, [there] was a general desire to make more theatre happen here in the capital, and to see the work of our peers – a love of theatre and a need to work was a driving force for most of us.” She believes that a short plays festival means highlighting the work of many artists, verses a few, and is an effective way to get more theatre to audiences.

There was such a high level of interest for St. John’s Shorts in its first year, Jackie anticipates receiving enough submissions in subsequent festivals to require them to turn to an objective juried process for the selection of the ten plays. In the meantime, she believes this year’s line up is full of not-to-miss elements.

“Stanley Braxton is a real hot ticket these days and we’ve got them doing an original show each time they hit the stage, incorporating the sets and props of the plays they share the slot with – bound be a real treat! And of course there are four brand spanking new and original plays by local playwrights.”

The play One Thing, which opens up the festival, is the first play written by local filmmaker Andrea Dunne and it was originally developed under the mentorship of Robert Chafe in his advanced playwriting course at Memorial University. The play is a transatlantic romance between an Englishman and a Newfoundlander and it promises dramatic moments as well as exciting lines, including, “I’m walking down the aisle to Billie Jean and there’s nothing you can do to stop me.”

Patrick sums up the unique appeal of this year’s St. John’s Shorts in one question: “Where else will you see works from emerging local authors (Dunne, Ivany, Aylward, Gillis) along side classical pieces (Shaw, Strindberg), contemporary playwrights (Durang, Frayn) and a kids show?” This one-of-a-kind festival is the only answer.

St. John’s Shorts: A Festival of Short Plays runs from September 21st to October 2nd at the Barbara Barrett Theatre in the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre. General admission tickets are $10.00 and kids show tickets are $5.00.

Article by Overcast Intern Emily Pittman.

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