Preview: The Social Capital Theatre’s Inaugural Short Short Play Festival

The Short Short Play Festival: An Exhibition of 20-Minute Plays at Social Capital TheatreToronto’s Social Capital Theatre presents their first Short Short Play Festival: An Exhibition of 20 Minute Plays

I love short plays. Maybe it’s my shortened attention span, maybe it’s my need for variety, but there is something about a short play that appeals to me. I like the idea of hearing a myriad of stories in one night. A sampling of viewpoints and characters. Some may resonate, some may not. When it comes to new bodies of work, it’s nice to know you don’t have to worry about committing two hours to something that may need further development.

Luckily, The Social Capital Theatre is putting on their very first Short Short Play Festival (July 22-25) which will feature twelve 20 minute plays. Naturally, I am very much looking forward to seeing what they have to offer.

The best part is, we’ll get to see the work of twelve different playwrights. The plays will be given full production value and will feature some of Toronto’s top emerging and established actors.

Recently, I had a chance to interview Melyssa Ade, the Artistic Director of the 2015 Short Short Play Festival about how the festival came to be, what we can expect, and what their future plans are.

How did this festival come about?

Ralph MacLeod, one of the proprietors of The Social Capital Theatre told me he wanted to run a four day play festival. He had the dates picked out. I was working with the Toronto Cold Read Series and was immersed in the development of a community to support writers and actors. Ralph wanted an Artistic Director and I wanted a project, it was a good fit. Typically when we think about short plays, we imagine a forty minute, one act deal. The idea of concentrating drama into half that time was appealing to me -short short plays.

This has been a pioneering effort. In many ways it started as an experiment in possibility: could we build a festival of plays that run under twenty minutes? Is there enough good material to sustain a festival? The answer is YES. We were overwhelmed by the submission response. Scripts came from across Canada and as far away as New Zealand. There is such a thing as the twenty minute play -writers create these pieces that are rarely produced because of their length. Tom McHale is directing one of the plays, Charlie Blake’s Boat by Graeme Gillis, and he has been sitting on this play for six years, waiting for an opportunity to mount it. I am very happy and proud to offer a forum for these works.

There is something special about a short short play: an immediacy and palpable energy. Like being told a secret.

Once we had confirmed to go with short-short plays other elements fell into place. Because the plays only require a short rehearsal period, we were able to attract some of the best established and emerging talents in the city. And because the plays are only twenty minutes we were emboldened to take some risks with new writers, challenging material, and emerging actors.

What can the audience expect?

Everything that goes into a full production, distilled. Concentrated theatre. And gargoyles.

What is the layout of the festival?

Twelve plays have been curated into 4 ‘shows’ – each ticket gets you three plays. We are offering two PWYC nights (Wed & Thurs) and $15 tickets ($12 student/senior) for Fri & Sat. There are two shows each night, 8pm and 10pm – each play is performed twice.
It would be wonderful to see some audience attend all of the plays – for the price of four tickets you can see 12 plays, 3 hours of theatre, 33 actors… what fun!!

The Social Capital Theatre is a sweetheart of a venue, up the stairs to the 2nd floor, it accommodates 88 people in cabaret style seating. There is a full service bar so patrons can enjoy a drink with the shows.

What kind of subject matter is being explored?

The diversity of content in the plays is impressive. All the big themes are touched on: romance, death, dating, existentialism, truth and honesty, legacy, boats.

The stories range from epic re-visioning of myths (Cassandra) to historical events (Dorothy Parker and What Fresh Hell Is This?) to urban encounters (The Park). There are comedies and dramas and big casts (5 actors) and small (1 actor). It is like a Tapas of theatre… a nibble of this and a bite of that… all full of flavour.

What do you hope to achieve with this festival?

My primary hope is to delight audiences. These are really good plays! All of our participants are focused on bringing these pieces to life with gusto.

We also aim to bring attention to the Social Capital as a versatile and welcoming venue with a number of artistic possibilities. The proprietors Ralph and Carmine are also artists, great supporters of creative efforts and a genuine pleasure to collaborate with. I daresay The SoCap is becoming the artistic hub it deserves to be – a creative clubhouse.

I would like to see the Short Short Play Festival become an annual event. I am very buoyed by the enthusiasm of the artists participating.


  • The Short Short Play Festival is playing July 22-25, 2015 at The Social Capital Theatre (154 Danforth Avenue, 2nd floor)
  • Shows are grouped into three short plays each night at 8pm and 10pm. See website for specific show times.
  • Ticket Prices: Wednesday and Thursday are PWYC, Friday and Saturday $15 or $12 student and senior tickets.
  • Tickets available at the door.
  • ALL box office/ticket sales go directly to the artists.

Photo taken from The Social Capital Theatre website