Writing competitions – June

Writing comeptitionsMore writing competitions. How I wish that I had time to enter some of them. I think I need a month off.

Rabbit Hole Urban Music

Reviews sought for music, gigs, film, comedy and more. Send an email with subject “New reviewer” to submissions@rhum.org.au for more information.

30 June: National Jazz Writing Competition

Submit your poetry inspired by an aspect of jazz or improvised music in Australia. Winning poems are published in Extempore. Visit njwc.extempore.com.au.

30 July: Mornington Peninsula Prize 2010

Short story max 3000 words. First prize $300. Contact peninsulafaw@bigpond.com.


1 June: Once Off Flash Fiction Contest
1 June: Verandah
1 June: Torquay Froth & Bubble Short Story and Poetry Competition
4 June: Text Publishing Prize
7 June: Burke and Wills Bush Poetry and Story Competition

Short and Sweet Script Entry Deadlines

Short and SweetShort+Sweet Script Entry Deadlines 2010-11

If you’re interested in entering a ten minute play script into Short+Sweet (the biggest 10-minute theatre festival in the world! ) Then now’s a great time.

Writers are welcome to enter no matter where they’re from, a truly international play writing competition.

If you enter your ten minute play into Short + Sweet now you are entering it to all upcoming Short+Sweet festivals including:

  • Short+Sweet Melbourne 2010.
  • Short+Sweet Brisbane 2010.
  • Short+Sweet Malaysia 2010.
  • Short+Sweet Sydney 2011.
  • Short+Sweet Auckland 2011.

So basically you’re entering five Festivals for just one entry fee of AUD$20.00.

Visit the Short and Sweet entry form to enter your script.
Visit the short and Sweet website for more information.

To learn How to write a Ten minute play.

Ten minute play ‘Reaction’ at Writers Anonymous

Writers Anonymous - Kate ToonThe next Writers Anonymous has been announced and my ten minute play “Reaction’ will be read for the first time. Whichalways makes me nervous and drink too much wine.


This month it’s a whole lot of drama with a touch of black comedy. Six plays dealing with a range of the human condition will keep us entertained for ninety minutes. Once again our writers and great actors test out a mix of early draft scripts. Once again we welcome some new writer and actor members along with our regulars , so come along and give them your support. It’ll be another great evening with terrific actors showing our writers what works in their scripts… and maybe what doesn’t.

So, here’s the line up of your script in hand readings at the Writers Anonymous meeting at El Rocco Nightclub, 154 Brougham St, Kings Cross, Monday 24th May 2010, starting at 7pm sharp.

New Year’s Eve – by Aaron Nilan (10 min, short play)

SCOTT: Aaron Nilan
PATRICK: Alastair Buchanan
BARRY: tba

Director: Alastair Buchanan

A Star on My Shoulder - by Martin Simpson (25 min, monologue, drama)

JACK: Steven Anderton

Director: Heath Wilder

Let Slip the Dogs – by Will Keyes-Byrne (10 min, short play, drama)

LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON: Garreth Cruickshank

Director: Mellisa Lee

Break 15 -20 mins

The Devil Lived – by Jack Fairweather (25 min, 1st scene, black comedy)

ROY: Steven McGrath
RAY: Kim Knuckey

Director: Peter Talmacs

Reaction – by Kate Toon (10 min, short play, drama)

SASHA: Amelia Tranter
FADDEI: Tom Pelik

Director: Amelia Tranter

50 – by Peter Shelly (10 min, short play, drama)

STANLEY: Kim Knuckey
BRENDA : Kate Buchanan
MOLLY: Brigid O’Sullivan

Director: Peter Shell

For more information visit the Actors Anonymous website.

How to write a ten-minute play

Stage curtainsFrankly I’m too busy to sit through some three-hour theatre epic let alone write one; there’s the dishes to wash, the dog needs a bath and I’ve got a few episodes of ‘Lost’ just screaming to be watched.

But a ten minute play, well that’s easy. If it only takes ten minutes to watch, it can’t take much longer to write, right?

Well in reality it can be just as tough to write a smashing ten minute play as an awesome long one. All the elements are the same (Character, dialogue, story, dramatic tension and theatricality) but you’ve got such a minuscule amount of time in which to express it all.

Ten minute plays are the in ‘thing’

Apparently the ten-minute format is on the up and up, which isn’t surprising in these times of bite-sized information download. How about trying to write a twitter play in 140 characters?

Here’s mine:

Tweetplay: Lights up. Dead body on stage. Bob: I loved him. Sue: Father? B: Lover. S: My lover! Stab. Two dead bodies on stage. Lights down.

Ten minute play writing tips

I’m not an experienced writer of plays but I’ve made it into Short and Sweet a few times and reached the finals once; so here (in my humble opinion) are my top ten ten-minute play writing tips, plus a few words from writers who are infinitely more successful in this art form than my good self:

1) Make sure it lasts ten minutes

Sounds obvious, but this simple rule is forgotten by many playwrights resulting in their plays being disqualified from competitions. One page of dialogue and stage direction usually works out as one minute of stage action – depending on your spacing and font size.

2) A sketch is not a play

Make sure the play has some kind of story ‘arc’. Two blokes exchanging wisecracks in a pub is all very well, but if we’re not taken on some kind of journey, we get to the end of the play and think, ‘So what?’

In the words of Gerry Greenland, a successful Sydney based playwright and expert ten minute play writer:

“A ten minute play can be many things but it’s not a sketch. One approach is to write the minutes leading up to the climax of a humorous or dramatic story, and then the climax itself where the characters undergo a change, preferably a self-revelation, and where the action preceding the beginning of the play is self-evident. Simplicity, a single through line and compression are the key ingredients.”

Or Pete Malicki who currently runs Crash Test Drama Sydney and a fan of the ten minute play format who says:

Telling a 10 minute story is what makes a 10 minute play great. Too many writers drag a joke out to the point of torture or attempt to condense an epic emotional journey into the length of two ad breaks.”

3) Write a play not a screen play

If you’re lucky enough to get your play read, it will probably be done script in hand in a pokey room somewhere, with no props, costumes, lighting changes or the ability for an eight foot mechanical dinosaur to storm the stage halfway through. Keep your play simple and ensure it doesn’t overly rely on any of the above to tell the story.

4) Leave something for the actors to do

I’ve read many scripts that intricately dictate the movements and actions of everyone on stage. ‘Susan giggles nervously, coughs, smoothes her skirt, reapplies her lipstick, checks her mobile and says “Hello”’. Perhaps a simple ‘nervous’ would suffice. Then the actor gets to think of lots of clever ways to show ‘nervousness’. Remember, they’ve studied acting in college and are often quite good at it.

5) Leave something for director to do

Again, plays that list every position and movement of every actor and prop on the stage, leave the director little room to manoeuvre. By all means put it in, but don’t get too precious when the director decides to do things differently.

6) Ensure there is some tension or conflict

Plays about nothing much sometimes work, but plays with some tension or conflict really pull the audience in. It doesn’t have to be a car chase, a violent exchange or an explosion. Sometimes, the simple annoyance of someone having eaten the last muffin can be enough to create the necessary drama. Plays without drama are just dialogue.  If your character ends the play in the exact same place (mentally, physically or spiritually) where he started, he must have gone on some kind of journey to get there.

In the words of the Godfather of the ten-minute genre, Alex Broun

“The secret to a really good ten minute play is a great middle. Something needs to happen around the four to six minute mark that both raises the stakes and accelerates the action. It’s like the car’s been cruising along at sixty and suddenly it accelerates to one hundred. The play speeds towards a thrilling but inevitable conclusion. If you get that right the audience will get so caught up in the characters and story they will forget they are even watching a play.”

7) Avoid exposition

Exposition (or the part of a play in which the background to the main conflict is introduced) is a killer in ten-minute play: a) It uses up loads of stage time, and b) if you have to explain the story with a lengthy narrative it’s probably too complex for the format.  Also, don’t feel you have to explain everything; audiences are quite clever at reading between the lines and will work it out.

Successful NSW playwright Donatella Parise sums it up nicely:

“Leave out the crap. The audience will understand what you’re saying, without the actors saying it.”

8 ) Introduce your characters quickly

We need to warm to and understand your characters quickly. Use the actor’s skill to portray a personality trait rather than explaining it to your audience in words, for example, a nervous character is tessellating the beer mats before his friend arrives, a vain character quickly picks something out of his teeth and winks at his own reflection while his date is ordering. Show it, don’t say it.

Dona sums it up nicely again:

“You don’t have the luxury of introducing all the characters in detail, so whatever you do reveal about them has to be interesting, inspiring and essential.”

9) Make it interesting to look at

If you want your ten-minute play to be shown in the theatre as opposed to on the radio, aim to make it theatrical. So many plays are just two characters sat at a table chatting – DULL! Often actors are forced to stride up and down the stage meaningfully for no reason at all, just for something to do.

10) And I woke up and found it was all a dream

Just because it’s short, doesn’t mean you can skimp on the ending. Try to avoid a cliché and don’t feel pressured to wrap it all up nicely with a little bow. Open-ended plays with no resolution can work and leave the audience with something to discuss in the interval.

Finally, of course you must enjoy it. A fair few of my plays have been damned awful to begin with or have been massacred on stage. It took me a while to let go and just enjoy the thrill of writing and the bigger thrill of seeing my work on stage.

What do you think makes a great ten minute play?

Please add comments below!

‘Play (with) Misty for me” shortlisted for Singapore Short and Sweet

Short and SweetIt was great to receive an email this morning from Nicole Stinton, Festival Director of Short+Sweet Singapore 2010 letting me know that my play “Play (with) Misty for Me” has been included in the shortlisted plays.

Short+Sweet Singapore 2010 will be held from July 14 to August 1 in two venues in Singapore:  The Arts House; Play Den and The Hall.

The Gala Final will run August 5 – 7 in the Theatre Studio at Esplanade Theatres On The Bay.

The shortlisted plays have been sent to the Top40 directors who are currently in the process of reading through all the scripts and then selecting their preferred plays. Fingers crossed. I’ll find out by the end of May if I’ve been selected.

Learn more about Short and Sweet Singapore.

New play wins Peoples choice vote at Crash Test Drama Sydney

Crash Test Drama - Kate ToonCrash Test Drama 2010 enjoyed its second show on Monday 10th May, with a strong line-up of plays dealing with everything from salami to suicide to reality TV.

My play “Between a Rock and a Hard Place’ won the Peoples choice vote and was offered a spot in Crash Test’s finals on 2nd of August, alongside the winners of April’s show, and June and July’s upcoming shows. The play also managed a Best Actor award for Kim Knuckey and a Best Actress Runner up award for Imogen Carn!

Full Report

First up was Mary Zegura’s comedy ‘A New Love’, a classic comedy of mistaken identities with a message of acceptance at its core. Directed by Garth Campbell, who also acted along-side Peter Lawrence, the Italian-Mama Joan Rodd and Justine Keim, is was a fast and funny start to the evening.

The night’s second play was Prue Clark’s ‘Marburg’, an epic and heart-felt drama looking at the lives of three different men in rural Australia, where prejudice, miscommunication and recklessness lead to a dramatic conclusion. Directed by Uma Kali Shakti and performed by Jim Gosden, Tim Selby and Steve McGrath. Prue’s play was given the Playwright’s Encouragement Award for a cleverly-constructed and thoughtful ten-minute story.

Next up was ‘When Life Becomes a Play’, Felix Carlyle’s satire on writing, acting, and the thing that is a ‘short play’. First-time Crash Test director Raj Maneshwar deftly handled the play’s shifts in ideas, as well as the surprising ending – which caught the next play’s participants off guard! Acted by Kym Parrish and Alison Hodge, and their ‘real-life’ counterparts Maite Arriaga and Colleen Henry. And who could forget Kyrill the barman!

To finish the first half was ‘Castaway Island’, written and directed by Craig Delahoy. This spoof on reality TV and its inner-workings proved very popular with judges and audience alike, and was offered a spot in August’s finals, winning both the Judges’ Choice and the Popular Vote Runner-up. Acted with brilliant comic timing and flare by Justine Scali, Gerry Sont, and Barton Williams.

After the interval was Kate Toon’s ‘Between a Rock and a Hard Place’, a comedy about two British travellers stuck in Jenolan Caves. Directed with heart and a fun spirit by Amelia Tranter, it wooed over the audience to win the Popular Vote and a place in the finals. Acted with wonderful precision and comic timing by Kim Knuckey and Imogen Carn.

Following this was Graham Yate’s ‘Oh Errol’, directed by Nir Shelter. The play looked at the awkward moment when a guy realised his mate had slept with his girlfriend. The comedy of ‘how-to-woo-a-woman’ was acted by Paul Pavlakis and Michael McCrann, and Michela Carattini as the woman caught between the two.

Second last for the night was ‘On the Road to Nowhere’ by Vee Malnar, a comedy-drama about a man and woman who are travelling together, and have a quick stop at a pub. Tempers soon flare. Performed by Matt Thompson, Deborah Peebles, and Martin Estridge as the man with the wise words. Directed by Felix Carlyle.

And rounding off the night was Melissa Lee’s ‘For the Sake of Salami,’ directed by Con Nats, about a group of friends whose views and opinions test the patience of the hosts who have invited them to dinner. It featured the ensemble of Jade Carden and Mauritzio Degliesposti as the dinner hosts, and Fleur Beaupert, Angeline Bilas and Bianka Demets as their difficult guests.

Congratulations to Craig Delahoy’s ‘Castaway Island’ and Kate Toon’s ‘Between a Rock and a Hard Place’ for being selected for the finals. Thanks again to the wonderful actors, directors and writers for another great evening of new writing and committed work!

The Results

Judges Pete Greenaway, Jackie Greenland and Gerry Greenland had a tough night of decision-making after the enjoyable and fast-paced line-up of tonight’s plays.

Judges’ Choice: Castaway Island

Wins a place in the Crash Test finals on 2nd August 2010

Written by Craig Delahoy

Popular Vote First Place: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Wins a place in the Crash Test finals on 2nd August 2010.

Written by Kate Toon

Popular Vote Runner Up: Castaway Island

Written by Craig Delahoy

Best Actor: Kim Knuckey

Best Actor Runner-Up: Michael McCrann

Best Actress: Justine Scali

Best Actress Runner-Up: Imogen Carn

Playwright’s Encouragement Award: ‘Marburg’ by Prue Clark

Next Crash Test Drama on June 7th – here we come!

“Push Yourself” Showing at Playtime 3 – 19 May 2010

My third outing at Playtime. This month’s play is Push Yourself, the physically eventful tale of a personal trainer who likes his client just a touch too much.

PlaytimePLAYTIME 3: 8pm-10.30pm Wednesday 19th May:

Producers: Stephen Carnell, Melissa Lee & Faith de Savigne,
Directors: Liam Burgess, Craig Delahoy, Lisa Eismen, David Farland, Ron Hadley & Amelia Tranter.
Stage Manager: Faith de Savigne, Tech: Lauchlan Barns, MC: Valentino Arico.

ONLY ACTING by Robert Salisbury, director Craig Delahoy.
Cast: Heidi Lupprian, Aaron Nilan, Matt Thompson.
Bob rewrites the script to exploit Nat, enraging her boyfriend. Who’s exploiting who?
CAKE ON A PLATE by Gina Schien, director Liam Burgess,
Cast: TBA,
Death, kissing and Shakespeare ambush an English teacher during her afternoon class.
PARTNERS WITHOUT PAPERS by Faith de Savigne, director Craig Delahoy,
Cast: Kate Buchanan, Kim Knuckey, Heidi Lupprian, Aaron Nilan.
Before you make a new start you have to have the paperwork in order.

PUSH YOURSELF by Kate Toon, director Amelia Tranter,
Cast: Laura Holmes, Matt Thomson,
Besotted personal Trainer Daniel is going to push his chubby client Sarah to the limit.
ELEVATOR by Stephen Carnell, director Ron Hadley,
Cast: Sarah Loxley, Heidi Lupprian, Kay Simons, Peter Talmacs, Matt Thomson,
Five people are trapped in a lift and the only thing going up is the level of tension.
THE PAINTERS by Jackie Greenland, director Craig Delahoy,
Cast: Kate Buchanan, Kim Knuckey, Aaron Nilan.
Dodgy house painters mix up more than paint when they redecorate a police interview room.

NUNS by Robert Luxford, director Lisa Eismen,
Cast: Deborah Bradshaw, Celia Kelly, Stella De Zotti, Kay Symons,
3 Nuns secretly plan to enforce smokers’ rights.
MATTER OF TASTE by Kathryn Goldie, director David Farland,
Cast: Brett Heath, Kathy Urukalo,
A pompous chef, a lacklustre kitchen hand – and a dilemma.
WAITING ROOM by Con Nats, director Lisa Eismen,
Cast: Valentino Arico, Deborah Bradshaw, Peter Talmacs,
Mr Adams is interviewed for a spot in Heaven as Hell is full. His interviewer is familiar.

A pompous chef, a personal trainer, Shakespeare, 3 nuns and God share the stage at PLAYTIME 3.

VENUE: The Club Room, Ground Floor, The World Bar, 24 Bayswater Road, Kings Cross, Sydney.
TIME: 8pm-10.30pm Wednesday 19th May 2010.

Writer of things