Sanjeev Dixit And Third Half Theatre Win Short+Sweet Dubai For Second Year In A Row
In an extraordinary achievement precociously talented Dubai based writer-director-actor Sanjeev Dixit and Third Half Theatre have won Short+Sweet Dubai for a second year in a row.
In front of a full house at the Madinat Theatre last Friday night, Dixit’s epic ten-minute musical, The Tragic Queen, performed by a cast of 18, took home the top award winning the Best Overall Production among a hotly contested field.
Dixit also won Best Director for the production, following on 2015 where he also won both awards for Tréteau.
This year however he was pipped for the Best Script Award, which he shared in 2015, with Rosine Saad winning the award for her delightful local satire Ya Welcome Ya Welcome.
The other major award for the night, the People’s Choice Award for the audience’s favourite play, was won by Greek Civil (out of) Service, performed completely in Greek by Dubai-based Greek Thespis Theatre and written and directed by Constance Kratsa.
The triumph was celebrated by the Greek Ambassador to the UAE, Mr Dionysus Zios, who had travelled from Abu Dhabi especially for the performance.
Prizes were spread evenly on the night with no less than nine productions claiming awards.
The Best Actress award went to Abu-Dhabi based Baindu D Kalokoh for her stunning performances in Platform Tales and Hair Ye Hair Ye, which she also wrote and directed.
The Best Actor was won by Eric Dury for his world class tour de force in New Year’s Eve.
Best Actor Runner-Up was presented to Asad Raza Khan for his hilarious turn in Guided by Voices, following on his Best Actor award in 2015.
While the Best Actress Runner-Up went to Gloria Abou Diwan for her equally hilarious performance in Lebanese flight-comedy, Three’s A Crowd.
Three’s A Crowd took out a second award with the Best Newcomer won by actor Ghadi Yaghi for his performance in the play, while the Best Play Poster was won by Thank You Mr Pongpat.
The Best Independent Theatre Company was won by Third Half Theatre who had two outstanding productions in the gala, The Tragic Queen and New Year’s Eve, which incredibly finished first and second in the Best Production voting on the night.
“When the thought of putting up a live, original musical in ten minutes crossed my mind, I initially dismissed it outright” explained Dixit. “But the thought wouldn’t go away. A big thanks is owed to the team whose commitment and belief kept the play alive through the nail biting last weeks leading up to the premiere.”
“Team changes, cast backing out due to sickness, fervent script edits to keep it in the time limit, and a million other hurdles were surmounted by a room full of people with simply amazing creative energy.”
“What is both humbling and encouraging is that this year too Short+Sweet has been won by a local play, written for and premiered at the festival. Tréteau was the first original Dubai play to win the festival last year, and I'm overwhelmed to have followed it up this year with The Tragic Queen—the first musical to have won Short+Sweet Dubai.”
For those who missed The Tragic Queen at Short+Sweet there are already plans to present a full length version of the musical at DUCTAC later this year.
He also paid tribute to his compatriots at Third Half Theatre.
“Since the festival's inception, as a group we have always had one of our plays in the Gala Final but this year marked the first time we had two. Between The Tragic Queen and New Year's Eve I think we were nominated for almost all the awards of the night. A most heartening and proud moment for me as the group's founder.”
The Gala Final brought to an end a six week Festival that began at the new Junction Theatre in Alserkal Avenue back in January. Over eighty plays were presented in the festival featuring over 200 UAE based writers, directors and actors.
“This was our fourth year of Short+Sweet Dubai” explained co-Festival Director Liz Hadaway, “which has now grown into the second biggest Short+Sweet Festival in the world, surpassed only by Sydney, Australia, which was where Short+Sweet began.”
“Working with our partners Dubai Culture, Short+Sweet Dubai now occupies a very special place in the local theatre calendar and is the one event which brings all the nationalities of our great city together on stage.”
“This year we had plays presented in four different languages in the Gala – Greek, Hindi, two in Arabic and English.”
Co-Festival Director Alex Broun was delighted by the heightened quality of this year’s Festival.
“Although the Festival gets bigger every year, with more plays and more participants, what is extremely pleasing is that the quality of work is also improving” said Broun.
“There is a massive jump in the skill level from our participating actors, directors and writers every year – and that shows the benefit in skill development that Short+Sweet is having on the overall theatre scene in the UAE.”