Here in Newfoundland and Labrador, we love our drama, and a bit of comedy, romance and horror thrown in for good measure. The fourth annual St. John’s Short Play Festival brings it all to the historic LSPU Hall.
The festival, which started on September 5 and runs until September 22, is a creative collaboration between local theatre companies and proves what a powerful punch you can pack onstage in a short period of time.
Consisting of 26 plays spread over three weeks (including a weekend dedicated to young people’s theatre), the event showcases an eclectic mix of work from established and emerging playwrights, directors and actors. From a dark comedy about a pair of theme park mascots who come to a sad realization during their lunch break (“The Happiest Place on Earth”) and an old-time science fiction radio drama (“I Live to Serve”), to an original shadow puppet play about a creepy local legend (“The Brass Button Man”), there’s truly something for everyone.
Of course, it takes a great deal of support from the audience and various sponsors to make events like this happen and as a not-for-profit, St. John’s Shorts depends on it. Fortunately, says Festival Coordinator Sharon King-Campbell, they have that support in spades.
In addition to purchasing ad space in their program, there are other ways in which the business community have stepped up to support St. John’s Shorts, such as providing food and drink for festival receptions and donating items for their online auction. Speaking of the latter, King-Campbell says they received tremendous support from a broad range of businesses around the island including Escape Quest, Chinched, Trinity Coffee Company (Trinity), TVAL, Fred’s Records, Hard Case Tees, Quidi Vidi Brewery, Aunt Mab’s Garden (Clarenville), Five Brothers Cheese, and Soothe Spa. In total, 60 donors (small and large businesses, not-for-profit organizations and individuals) contributed 90 items.
“We raised $2,455 through our Facebook auction, and we still have a silent auction running in the Cox & Palmer Second Space throughout the festival until September 22. Three beautiful pieces of original art by Caroline Clarke, Irene Duma and Lisa Moore will be up for auction,” King-Campbell adds.
Over the past four years, St. John’s Shorts has become one of the fastest growing arts events in the region and welcomes over 2,000 theatre goers annually. King-Campbell says it’s thanks to support from the business and arts community alike that has made this success possible.
“We really believe in the value of this festival to the cultural fabric of this city, and we’re overwhelmed by the love we’ve been shown by the business community. This is our first time holding an online auction, and it has been remarkable to see the support come in from all sides, even as far afield as Trinity. It has definitely helped us to meet our financial targets for the 2019 festival, which is the biggest it has ever been,” she says.
“It’s also worth mentioning that St. John’s Shorts exists to create space for artists to practice their craft and share their work, and for that reason it has been supported by Resource Centre for the Arts (our hosts at the LSPU Hall), RCA Theatre, and Artistic Fraud since 2017. Power Productions came on board in 2018 and Open Theatre Company has joined our major supporters this year. This support from within the arts community has been vital to the continued growth and success of the festival.”