Short & Sweet Theatre

Short & Sweet Theatre Festival – Auckland

I’ve been writing, developing and directing new plays in the UK for many years now, so it’s with considerable excitement that I find myself directing a short play in New Zealand for the first time since 1976.

I’d heard of the Short & Sweet Festival and duly did the google thing, sent in a brief list of directing and dramaturgical work and was delighted to be asked to join the festival.  The next thing that happened was the arrival of a zip file containing 28 ten minute plays to be read.  My task was to choose five plays and list them in order of preference and to my surprise my first choice came back to me.


Judith Cowley
Judith Cowley

In the Pound by Judith Cowley spoke to me so strongly that whichever way round I arranged my list of five plays, this one always came out at number one.  Another google and I found that Judith has just completed the MA in Script Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University, Wellington.  Here’s what she wrote at the beginning of the course.

My family have always been story-tellers. A family motto could be ‘Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.’ Although my head was filled with stories, I avoided the call to write for years. The call, like a determined suitor, didn’t give up. I gave him many excuses. I am too busy, too tired. I have to have a real job. It is not my forte. He waited, watching from the other side of the dance floor.

A year ago I fell over a cliff. My injuries were minor, scratches and mild concussion. But the fall woke me up. When the call to write next came, I took his hand and said, ‘Let’s dance.’

In the Pound is indeed a dance.  The ties that once held Bevan and June have broken.  The characters dance around their emotions which rise and fall as they argue, laugh and cry. Can Bevan charm his way back with memories of the good times or will their failure as parents win out?

It’s a privilege to be directing this first play by a new writer, because I know Judith is going to be an important voice in New Zealand’s cultural future.

Sheena Irving & Mike Howell play June & Bevan
Sheena Irving & Mike Howell play June & Bevan

Casting actors is always a tense time.  Will I get the right ones? Will they be available?  Short & Sweet organised audition sessions according to age so I went to two, Men over 40 and Women over 35.  It was slightly strange; directors sitting in a row watching actors come in, introduce themselves and perform a monologue.  Ahi, the co-ordinator got them to do the monologue in a different way, to show off versatility and ability to take direction.  There weren’t many actors, but amazingly the two I needed turned up.  I offered and they accepted.  We are now in the rehearsal process, delighting in Judith’s characters and dialogue.  Everything we need to know is in the text and we’re all looking forward to the performances.

The way it works is that there are two groups of plays.  In the Pound plays in week one and if we get enough votes from the audience, we will join the best of week two on the Gala Night.

 Here’s how you can help.

If you are in Auckland, book tickets for any date in week one & vote for In the Pound.

If you know anyone in Auckland or nearby, forward and share this post.

Visit the Short & Sweet Facebook Page . In the Pound will soon have it’s own page with info, pix and stuff (if I can manage the technology).






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