It was a crazy summer here in Canberra (and for most of Australia), but now that the bushfires, hail, floods, and drought have settled down, I thought it was time I update the blog with some production news about my short play The Hold Up.
Put simply, it’s had a cracker of a run!
In February this year, it appeared in Short+Sweet UAE in Dubai. It was directed by The Company and produced by StudioRepublilk and featured actors Tanvi Damani, Walid Abla and Rik Aby.
In November and December of 2019, it was part of The New American Festival of New One Act Plays in Los Angeles. There it was directed by Jack Stehlin andfeatured Brendan Brandt, Don Harvey, and Bruce Nozick.
In October 2019, it had a run in the first-ever Short + Sweet Dublin. It was directed by Andrew McCarthy and was nominated for Best Script in the festival awards.
And last, but not least, The Hold Up also featured in the Short+Sweet Hollywood festival in October 2019. It was directed by Kalee StClair and starred J Carlos Flores, Matthew Scott Montgomery, and Jessica G Ferrer. It won the People’s Choice award in Week 2 and progressed to the Semi-Finals.
As a bonus, one of my older short plays Smart Jimmy, Slow Bob also featured in Short+Sweet Hollywood 2019. Directed by Jessica Aquilla Cumerman, the play was also in Week 2 and progressed to the semi-finals via the Crew Cut vote.
The annual Canberra Unscripted Improv festival happened last month (19 – 22 September). I’ll admit, as a playwright who never acts (and very rarely directs), improvisational theatre isn’t something I’ve ever connected with.
For me, the script is the
heart and soul of my theatre experience. It’s where I start, and usually where
I finish my part in the whole “making theatre” thing.
Needless to say, the thought of being involved in an improv show has never crossed my mind. If it doesn’t have a script, I don’t see how I fit.
However, a couple of months
ago I got an offer I couldn’t refuse from a local improv troupe, Lightbulb
Improv. The brief was simple: write the first scene of a play so that the
troupe could then make up the rest. It was for an improv show called Script
Tease that would, for the first time that I know of, incorporate scripts into
an improvised performance.
I was intrigued by the
idea, and I’ll admit, a little overconfident about the whole thing. After all,
starting plays is easy! The hard part is filling in the rest – i.e., the middle
Of course, it was trickier
than anticipated. Starting a play and needing to set up the characters,
situation, stakes, and obstacles without any idea about where it was going in
terms of plot or theme was a very counter-intuitive way to write.
I kept thinking about how
every interaction or hint at an idea would lead to a payoff or reveal later in
the play. But of course, I wasn’t writing a full play – just a tease of one.
So, I had to pull back and leave it as open as possible. After all, the players
need room to play!
Luckily, I managed to get the job done. My play was about two gamer geeks that, after a year of talking online, accidentally agree to meet in real life. Of course, they both freak out and run to their respective friends for advice. Hijinks ensue.
Overall, Script Tease was a lot of fun to be part of. As expected, my play went in a direction I never anticipated. It got chaotic and slapstick very quickly – but that’s no surprise given the subject matter.
Still, I was stoked with what the improvisers did with the characters, especially given the tight timeframes and setting they had to deal with. It was wonderful to see my creations come to life and then quickly run amok.
I was one of four local playwrights taking part in Script tease. The others included John Lombard and Harriet Elvin (both Short+Sweet regulars) and Laura Griffin (a Lightbulb member and Short+Sweet finalist too). The show included crazy business meetings, pirates, haunted houses, and zombies.
Big thanks to all at Lighbulb for the fun night, especially Lou Maconachie, Amy Crawford, and Katherine Berry for making it all happen.
I can’t believe I’m saying
this, but hopefully, I’ll get to improv again.
The last weekend in April proved to be a huge one for my little plays! I had three plays happening in three separate productions, two of which I was directing!
My newest play Fallout
appeared in the “All Stars” line up of Short+Sweet Canberra on 26 and 27 of
Although I was only able to make one of the performances, my play was in great hands. Jess Waterhouse, Brendan Kelly, Kirsty Budding, and Dec Hastings were terrific in bringing this rather absurd little play to life and giving the audience a good laugh.
I am delighted to report that Fallout tied for Judges Choice and was outright winner of the People’s Choice. It will now be performed in the Short+Sweet Canberra 2019 Gala Final on Saturday 4 May!
My play The Hold Up competed in the Short+Sweet Sydney Gala Final on 27 and 28 April. After winning the Judges Choice in Week 6 of the competition (and drawing for first in the People’s Choice), we were lucky enough to be invited back for two more performances in front of sold-out crowds.
Unfortunately, we missed out on winning any major awards, but we still put on a damn good show! The final night was full of great plays, many of which could have easily taken out the top prizes. My personal faves were True To You by Nicky Denovan and Riding the Clutch by Sally Bartley.
Many many thanks to my amazing actors Michael Ubrihien, Philip Meddows and Peter Fock. It was a big weekend full of driving, attempted sleep, late night burgers, sickness, Avengers and theatre – sometimes all at the same time! Despite this, they lit up the stage every time. Couldn’t be prouder of how this play turned out.
Can’t wait to work with these guys again soon.
My quirky romantic comedy Stargazers was included in the Stage It! 10 Minute Play Festival in Bonita Springs (Florida) on 26, 27 and 28 April. The play starred father and son team Michael DC as (Dr Ludwig) and Michael Cherbini (as Danny), as well as the talented Skyler Moore as Becky.
Although I didn’t have a lot of contact with this particular production, I did get a nice update from the festival organisers and some of the cast letting me know that it went well and that everyone had a great time putting it together.
As a bonus, Stargazers was also published in their annual anthology, Stage It! 3: Twenty 10-Minute Plays. Grab a copy on Amazon
My short play Stargazers is set to hit the stage again in the US, this time as part of the third annual Stage It! 10 Minute Play Festival being held in Bonita Springs (Florida) on 26, 27 and 28 of April.
As a bonus, the play will also be published in Stage It! 3: Twenty 10-Minute Plays anthology.
Super stoked that my short play The Hold Up has won the Judges Choice for Week 6 of Short+Sweet Sydney 2019. We were also co-winners for the People’s Choice vote too!
As a result, we have been granted direct entry into the Gala Final event happening on 27 April at 7.30pm and 28 April at 6.00pm at the Tom Mann Theatre in Surry Hills.
I’ve had a few plays in Short+Sweet Sydney before, but this is the first time I have taken a Canberra cast to the event, or taken on the role of director.
I’ve also been told that Canberra productions taking part in Short+Sweet Sydney have traditionally found it hard to win over the big city crowds, so I was more than a little nervous about how it would all turn out.
Luckily, my stellar cast of Peter Fock, Michael Ubrihien, and Philip Meddows brought the goods. They were charming, funny, and utterly unflappable in the face of a new stage, new crowd and a few minor technical difficulties along the way.
In fact, they were so good that one reviewer wrote that the play was a:
Quick-fire comedy with so many memorable and just very wrong one-liners, provided huge laughter frenzy all in under ten minutes.
After taking out Best Production, People’s Choice, Best Script, and Best Actor (for Peter Fock) at Short+Sweet Canberra 2018, my short play The Hold Up has been invited to take part in Short+Sweet Sydney 2019.
I’ll be returning to the director’s chair along with original cast members Michael Ubrihien and Peter Fock.
Cameron Thomas couldn’t come back as our robber (Shakespeare was calling) but luckily the fabulously talented Philip Meddows has agreed to step into the role.
So far rehearsals have been a blast. I have no doubt these cool cats are going to light up the big city stage!
The Hold Up is in Week 6 of Short+Sweet Sydney from 14 – 17 March at the Tom Mann Theatre (Surrey Hills). Tickets are available at Ticket Tailor.