Fresh from November 2012’s sell out festival Short Cuts 2, and a successful transfer to The Hen and Chickens in January 2013, Sibling Productions are back with Short Cuts 3: A Box of Tricks, a dark comedy, short play festival, at their new home – The Hen and Chickens Theatre, Islington from Tuesday 5th till Saturday 9th March.
A celebration of female playwriting, Short Cuts 3 features four new one act plays from four female playwrights: Eliza Power (Feathers, Aingeal), Nia Jones, Lexy Howe (Sweatbox) and Marny Godden (The Grandees). All dark, all comic, and all downright weird.
The concept for the third festival was that each writer had to produce a short dark comedy, making use of the one same, basic prop – an innocuous cardboard box. What or who is inside it?
We asked Eliza Power, Sibling Productions’ founder and artistic director, to tell us a bit more about Short Cuts.
This is the third time you’ve hosted Short Cuts. How would you say the festival has developed?
I initially started Short Cuts as a trial run – a one off festival to test new work from some up and coming writers. I didn’t expect it to have the success it did. From its humble beginnings, it’s grown from a two show small event, with one matinee and one evening performance, to a full weeks’ run. Short Cuts 2 was picked up to be included in The Hen and Chickens own festival in January. While we were based there, The Hen and Chickens personally expressed their interest in bringing Short Cuts to their theatre for a longer run. It is lovely to not only expand the time period of the festival, but also to be requested by a theatre. It means we are going somewhere! I took that opportunity to expand it from 3 short plays to 4, so we were able to include another writer and production team within the festival. Thanks to the sellout shows we’ve had, it means more and more people are hearing about the festival. This is the first time I’ve had constant tweets and facebook messages asking about the festival, and how people can take part. A large number of people now seem to be taking an active interest in Short Cuts and it’s a wonderful feeling to know so many want to be involved. Our ethos is to create a pool of artists to collaborate with, and thanks to the growth of the festival, that plan is coming to fruition. I’m looking forward to Short Cuts 4 already!
How did you find the work for this festival – was it by open call?
The previous Short Cuts have been a mixture of open call and commissions. When I started the festival, I approached new writers I had either previously worked with or those I whose work I had already seen. We were such a small festival at that point, I felt it was safer to start with writers I knew. However the plan has always been to provide an open call for new writing, from worldwide. I would love to see work from different cultures and other parts of the world included in Short Cuts. I also wanted the festival to become a vehicle that promoted female writing primarily, and where we could, focus on working with female directors and a predominantly female cast. With Short Cuts 3, I knew that I wanted a basic theme – this time, the use of a a basic prop – within all the plays, to link them together. One play was sent to me by a new writer, Nia Jones, who I had never met. Her play fitted in so well with this idea that I instantly asked her if we could include it. Lexy Howe and The Grandees were commissioned to write their plays around this central theme.
When is the next festival and how should people contact you about the next one?
I am hoping that Short Cuts 4 will take place at the end of June 2013, and fingers crossed again at The Hen and Chickens for a week. This time round however, I want to include more short plays – ideally about six. The theme for the next festival is ‘Metamorphosis’. Our play requirements are simple for the next festival – each play should be around 15 minutes in length (5 – 10 minutes shorter than our current crop of plays), use minimal props, primarily be a dark comedy play, and have no more than 3 performers in each production. The deadline for submissions is going to be 1st May 2013. If people would like to submit ideas or scripts, they can email details through to email@example.com. I look forward to reading the submissions!
What is your eventual aim with this festival?
Within the next year, I would like to see Short Cuts expand to producing around 8 plays within the festival, through an open call for performers, writers and directors. We would then assemble the team, and cast the productions from the casting call. It would be great if Short Cuts could expand to a two week run, in order to get more coverage for our new writing and to give us the opportunity to work with a bigger team. We would then alternate plays across each night. We are applying for arts council funding for Short Cuts 4 too, in order to be able to put more finances into the production side and set design for the festival. As the festival grows, I would like to develop it into a multi-genre festival – including dark comedies, drama, abstract, clowning – and produce a wide variety of work. However one thing will remain – Short Cuts will always be a platform for female writers and performers. We want to work with the male of the species obviously, and produce plays by male writers, but Short Cuts was started by women, for women in the arts. And that is exactly the way we plan to keep it.
SHORT CUTS 3: A Box of Tricks
A Short Play Festival
The Hen and Chickens Theatre, 109 St Pauls Road, London N1 2NA
Box Office: 020 7704 2001
– Tuesday 5th to Saturday 9th March 2013 at 7pm
Tickets £8 (www.ticketweb.co.uk)