Are Tiny Plays The New Theatre?

Deborah Mason’s Tiny Play Festival 2012 was an absolute triumph

A capacity crowd packed out the Tea House Theatre in Vauxhall Friday night for Deborah Mason‘s Tiny Play Festival 2012. (The venue for pre- and post-theatre drinks and food was The Black Dog pub opposite, which delivered possibly the nicest service anywhere in London on a rainy Friday night.)

The inaugural Tiny Play Festival was a first for actor/producer/director Deborah with her festival organiser hat on, and was also a first for many of the featured writers (myself included).

Each of the 22 (count ’em) very short — c. 100 words or fewer — plays was fully staged with actors, props and scenery. The actors did a fantastic job with the source material, and Deborah’s inventive staging was the well-deserved hit of the night.

The scenery consisted of rolls of paper with a backdrop for each play painted on in black. So simple and so very effective. Two helpers rolled/unrolled the paper like an old-fashioned blackboard.

The subjects ranged from the Wild West to Adam and Eve via Social Media status updates. Mostly humorous, they received an overwhelmingly positive response from the crowd.

Deborah closed the Festival with an improv showstopper. The audience wrote words or snatches of phrases on cards, and  the actors picked two cards each. While they worked out how they’d run them together to make another Tiny Play, Deborah asked the crowd to choose a setting.

“Can you tell what is is yet?”

The crowd’s first choice for the setting was Tooting Lido (runner-up: “on a massive cheesepuff”), which Deborah then painted in a real Take Hart moment.

As a nod to the youngest audience members, the scene even included a massive cheesepuff in the lifeguard’s chair.

At only £7 per ticket, Tiny Play Festival was a brilliant night out. The crowd ranged in age from about 8 to 80. People were engaged, excited and entertained. A number of local small businesses made some money and attracted new customers.

We’re trying to persuade Deborah to make Tiny Play Festival a regular event, so come on Arts Council, give the woman another grant! This could be the new face of theatre in London.

Is Tiny the new black?

The Guardian and Oxford University Press are currently running a Very Short Film Competition, in which students are invited to submit 60-second films.

Microblogging continues to gain momentum, with novels being written via Twitter and Facebook. Although  none have yet made any serious money, they continue to proliferate.

Over on Twitter, the Old Vic promoted its New Voices and 24 Hour Plays programmes with popular games like the 24-word Twitter play. So, could Tiny Plays be the new theatre? Stay tuned to find out.

Follow me on Twitter: @TVClaw

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