Short Cuts Festival Offers a Buffet of Plays

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Heather Morrison was on the Short Cuts selection committee and will act at the festival. (Photo Supplied)

Short Cuts: The Ten-Minute Play Festival is a “total buffet” for the audience, offering comedy, drama, tragedy and more, says a local theatre artist involved in the annual event.

“It’s such a great selection,”’ said Heather Morrison, who also served on the event’s selection committee. “They got such an incredible breadth of plays to draw upon and choose from, and I think that they did a great job of choosing different voices to come forward on the stage. I think it’s going to be a really special evening.” 

Running from Feb. 8-10 at The Refinery, Short Cuts will feature six new 10-minute plays. The six separate plays will be presented as one show for a full evening of theatre. Food and drinks will be served after the show so that people can gather and talk about what they saw.

Morrison believes audience members will enjoy every play, although she notes if “something is not your taste it’s gone in 10 minutes.”

“You just have to sit for an extra 10 minutes and then there’s another whole concept, whole idea, coming at you,” she said. 

Short Cuts features a company of 23 writers, directors, actors and designers — 20 are from Saskatoon — working together in a fast-paced, collaborative environment during a two-week period. Rehearsals began on Jan. 28, meaning the artists have a limited timeframe to bring the plays to life on stage. The festival will showcase both emerging and established artists.

“It’s a great evening of theatre that’s going to make you think and laugh and feel,” said Morrison.

It seems third time’s a charm for Morrison, who was previously involved with Short Cuts as a playwright and as a director. In fact, Short Cuts offered her the opportunity to have her first play produced, which she co-wrote with another playwright, she said.

“It was so thrilling and exciting, and also just such a safe and fun and vibrant way to do it — because Short Cuts is so good for that,” she added.

Short Cuts is now in its fifth year. This year there are six actors involved — Morrison, Samantha Brown, Melanie Doerr, Andrew Johnston, Rodrigo Pino-Hellman and Amanda Trapp — as well as six directors. The directors include Jennifer Dawn Bishop, Jaron Francis, Grahame Kent, Alan Long, Elizabeth Nepjuk and Kristi Friday.

The plays included in the 2019 festival are The Watch by Jenna Berenbaum, Asylum of the Birds by Lauren Holfeuer, A Million Words Unspoken by Terry Jordan, 172 Push Ups by Scott Mullen, Before Dawn by Aaron Marie Nepoose and Possum by S. E. Grummett, who also serves as stage manger for Short Cuts. In addition, Jim Arthur is the lighting designer and technical director, tBone is the sound designer and Jensine Trondson is the costume designer.

Morrison believes Short Cuts responds to a need in the local theatre community.

“It’s creating opportunities for people to try out playwriting, to try out directing and to work in a really inclusive, warm, comforting environment,” she said.

When asked why the festival continues to thrive, Morrison offered two words: Yvette Nolan. Nolan, who serves as the artistic director, is an internationally acclaimed playwright, dramaturge and director.

“She produces the whole thing and she is just such a good theatre artist. She also provides dramaturgy on all the scripts, so she kind of coaches the writers,” said Morrison.

“But the thing that makes it so special is the atmosphere that she creates. She always commits to really diverse and inclusive casting and then comes at it with this attitude of equality of voices and community.”

Tickets to Short Cuts: The Ten-Minute Play Festival are $15 and are available by calling 306-653-5191 or by going online to ontheboards.ca. The show starts at 8 p.m. on Feb. 8 and 9 and at 2 p.m. on Feb. 10.