The Camel Stub Coverage of Short+Sweet 2017

The Camel Stub Coverage of Short+Sweet 2017


An Open Note to Short+Sweet Participants (and those wondering how we will cover it)

A camel peers through the Short+Sweet logo

The Short+Sweet season is upon us, and that frenetic activity of the UAE’s theatre scene is palpable. The concept is fantastic for its ability to bring professionals, amateurs, and even complete newbies on stage together.

In the past five years since first coming to Dubai, the quality of the Short+Sweet productions has improved, thanks to its competitive nature and the quantities of performances from which to gain experience.

The Top 40 evenings can really give audiences an interesting mix of comedy & drama, and even the surreal, all under 10 minutes. The Wildcards are an amazing way to catch potential winners (and, let’s be fair, some seriously awful ones.) But, again, in under 10 minutes, misery doesn’t last long. It’s a fun show when you let go.

So, that begs the question, will we critics just “let go”? It’s no secret that we can’t sit through painful and awful theatre. We have a duty to honesty and fairness, and strive the same for Short+Sweet.

A play in Short+Sweet Dubai 2016

Three’s A Crowd at Madinat Theatre, Short+Sweet Dubai 2016
Image credit: Constellation/PhotoAcacia Ltd.

So how will we review Short+Sweet?

Always a Review + a Reviewer

At least one reviewer from our team will be at each event each week – both Wildcards & Top 40. That reviewer will following a standard we are trying to set to ensure similar reviews and fairness to each production

As per our editorial ethics policy, no one who is part of a production (in a monetary or performance capacity) can review a performance. Short+Sweet is no different even though everyone of the team is involved. So if one of us is involved in that evening, we will not review. Period.

Rosine is working as FOH manager. She will not be able to review any performances. Phil will likely be the reviewer for all performances. But, Phil, Lamya & Emma are all on in Top 40 – Week 3. On that day, an anonymous and trusted reviewer will take Phil’s place.

We will ensure that there is always a reviewer on standby in case of illness or conflicting schedules.

Amateurs & Newbies Under Pressure?

The Camel Stub team will NOT be reviewing or mentioning our thoughts on individual actor’s performances, unless they are stand-out performances worth mentioning, or the actor is someone professional or has significant stage experience (you should know better then). We are not here to slag off first-timers or newcomers just venturing on the stage. We encourage it.

Yes, we have done this in the past, but we are making this a policy from here on. We’ve learned from those mistakes and we do not want to discourage people from getting on stage.

Reviewing Individual Pieces vs. the Whole Composition

We are looking at the composition as a whole. Was the event good, not were the individual components  good. An overall event can still be good even if there are insufferable melodramas and performers butchering the craft. We’re expecting it, to be honest. But was thought and care put into the composition? And, could we enjoy the whole evening (or afternoon?) That’s what we’re really looking at.

BUT… The components are still important. We will give a few short lines on each piece. However, if any director is not comfortable with us mentioning our review of their play, then we will not. But they must opt out in advance. Just because your show didn’t go as well as you would have hoped, doesn’t mean you can come back to us and say “ignore that” afterwards.

(If you are a director in Short+Sweet and wish to opt out, write to us at and mention the name of the play and week/event you are in.)

If a play makes it to the semi-finals or finals, we’re giving our thoughts on it. Period. We are also comparatively reviewing. Was there improvement, or at least consistency, from first performance to the final?

Don’t Forget the Audience

There it is. Hopefully that answers your questions and is fair to the  independent theatre community here. We understand this is not Cats or Les Miserables, but Short+Sweet is definitely one of the bigger theatre events in Dubai and we owe audiences fairness in our reviews. Yeah… an audience is seeing you perform. While your enjoyment matters, the audience matters more… really… do NOT forget that.

About author
Profile photo of Phil Apaza

Phil Apaza

On and around the stage since age 7, Phil has been on nearly every side of it, both professional and amateur. He has been involved in over 100 productions, from major corporate and government events to playing an on-stage prop in a walk-on role.


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