With 14 ten-minute plays and just one winner, Short+Sweet is back, and with it comes a host of amazing community theatreAccording to research, the average attention span tops out at around ten minutes. That’s not a lot of time, when you think about it.
It’s about the length of time it takes to have a shower, or boil a pot of pasta.
It’s also the length of one performance at upcoming short drama festival Short+Sweet – and believe us when we say that every second counts when it comes to being creative.
Long story short
The premise is simple: a series of acts take to the stage to show off their carefully crafted art. The catch? Each performance must be ten minutes or less, and the audience gets to choose their favourite act.
And as it’s set to return to Abu Dhabi on 19th and 20th January, there’s everything to play for to claim the title in this whistle-stop drama tour.
“You’ve got ten minutes to get a message across, ten minutes to do something creative, and that’s a huge challenge,” explains Angeleene Abraham, who has been involved since the festival first launched in Abu Dhabi three years ago, and will be directing and starring this year, too.
“You don’t have too many sets, props or costumes,” she adds. “You have to depend solely on your skills, and for ten minutes, you have to make it or break it.”
With performances ranging from laser-focused looks at real life topics to satire and even the absurd, performers face the challenge of doing something creative. As art for art’s sake, there doesn’t even have to be a profound message at the end of it – but then again, that’s sort of the point.
“That’s the beauty of art,” notes Angeleene. “It doesn’t need to have a point. People take all different things away from it, and sometimes it might be entirely different to what I wanted to say – and that’s great.”
But with the clock ticking to hook the audience’s attention, the momentum needs to be high from the get-go.
“It’s about fixing on one single point and knowing what you’re trying to say,” Angeleene describes. “That has to come in the first few seconds – you have to hook them in.
“At the end of the day, you might not get all the audience in with you, or even half. But you need to make it real, and relatable. You have to trust the audience to get it.”
For the performers, it’s not just the chance to perform that keeps them coming back to the stage year on year.
Rather, it’s about having the chance to ignite conversations and unite people over shared common ground.
“Nobody’s doing this for the money,” Angeleene says. “All the people in this scene, they all have jobs. They do this completely for the love of the stage.
“How else do you grow your own home talent?” she asks. “Abu Dhabi is such a vibrant city – it’s this melting-pot of different people, and the arts are the best way that people can assimilate and understand different cultures. This is how you break down barriers. Without understanding, we don’t evolve, we just stagnate.
“The whole point of art is to get people to talk. If people just accept without question what you’re trying to say, then there’s a problem.
“It feels like every year, [Short+Sweet] gets better and better. The quality has been astounding, and I’m so excited for this year,” she pauses, “I bet it’s going to be amazing.”
Need to know:
What: Short+Sweet Abu Dhabi
When: 19th Jan 8pm; 20th Jan 3pm and 8pm
Where: Blue Hall, The Arts Center, NYUAD, Saadiyat Island
Tickets: AED 100, prior registration recommended
Visit: nyuad-artscenter.org, shortandsweet.org