Review+Results: Week 1 Short+Sweet Illawarra

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The results are in, and we are proud to announce the first two plays which have won a spot in our Sydney festival February-March next year.

Judges Choice:
2nd Place: IS THIS A DREAM?
3rd Place: FOR HIRE
Threatened Panda Fights Back advances to Short+Sweet Syndey 2019

People’s Choice:
1st Place: IS THIS A DREAM?
3rd Place: CRY FOR ME
Is This A Dream advances to Short+Sweet Sydney 2019


October 9, 2018

Review by Dylan Horvat

Photos by Yobriggityphotography

The bustling theatre scene of the Illawarra has finally gotten its own Short + Sweet scene after many years with 8 short plays debuting it. With a diverse range of plays, such as relationship comedy to monologue drama to zombie satire to children singing, the prestigious short play festival is safe to find a comfy new home in this area that thrives on its local talent.

(1) – His Mother’s Curtains

Written by Diana McLaren / Directed by Sophie Bentley

Cast: Nelson Blattman and Annie May Roberts


Natural, light-hearted and warm comedy about a couple’s issues with their in-laws, taxidermied cats watching them pee, misgendering her mother because of her haircut and her mother’s taste in curtains as well as their wedding ring. Plenty of laugh-out-loud moments from the witty script and the charming actors.

(2) – Dare

Written and directed by Honora Jenkins

Cast: Mitchell Fahey, Rachel Cairncross, Emily Cairncross and Minna Lehman-Kurt


A reality game show in which the host (Fahey) challenges his contestants to be as true to themselves as they can be. An interesting concept that gets by on the appeal of the adorableness of it’s bright, eager cast, all of which are about nine years old. Bound to be enjoyed by anyone who likes seeing child actors at their cutest, bravest and most talented.

(3) – Threatened Panda Strikes Back

Written by Rex McGregor / Directed by Cara Severino

Cast: Patrick Harrison, Kaylee Ashton, Flynn Mapplebeck and Isabella Whitcher


A panda named Ling (Harrison) is the poster boy for endangered animals until science brings two dodos (Mapplebeck & Whitcher) back to life. A humorous and creative piece with plenty of funny sex-based humour and winning comedic performances, aided by panda make-up and great dodo costumes, by all four. Understandable why it won first place with the judges.

(4) – Brains

Written by Bernadette Le Mesurier / Directed by Robert Bruce

Cast: Jon Meakin, Andrew Gobran, Ricky Gamble and Inga Silfr Jon


Two zombies (Meakin and Gobran) find themselves at a human shortage as they argue about their image and how they became the walking dead. Providing a satirical and original look on the fictitious afterlife-beings proves an interesting concept, mixing biting jokes with comedically placed sound effects. Meakin and Gobran are able to utilise entertaining comedic charismas and hilarious voices while covered in great gory make-up while playing these larger than death characters.

(5) – For Hire

Written by Alexander Cuff / Directed by Sevgi Murphy

Cast: Alex Groombridge and Julian Levanic


Harry (Groombridge) is an assassin who’s been hired by an anonymous client to kill his former workmate and friend Vincent (Julian Levanic), thus ensuing hilarity and surprising character depth. Precise comedic timing engulfs this play from the constant sexual innuendo to the reluctant bloodlust by Harry’s trigger finger. Perhaps the most consistently funny play of the night, For Hire also features an interesting plot twist, making it perhaps the most compelling narrative too.

(6) – Cry For Me

Written and directed by Pete Malicki

Cast: Cris Bocchi


A melodramatic tragedy monologue piece written and directed by Malicki, Cry For Me stars Bocchi as Alicia, an Argentinian woman who works as a cryer at funerals to get the sadness rolling. Alicia recounts the toll that this job took on her personal emotions just when she needed them most as she faced personal tragedy. Bocchi showcases her charm and storytelling ability in what is the only play of the night that can’t be classified as a comedy.

(7) – Timesavers

Written by Barry Wood / Directed by Byron Faulkner

Cast: Jon Meakin and Abbey McDonald


Quirky, creative and well-performed comedy shines in this story about time travel. Meakin once again showcases his comedic acting chops as a man who claims to have invented a time machine out of a lawn chair. Meakin and McDonald make a fine duo in this British sitcom-styled piece, written by a UK playwright. McDonald plays his first customer ever who falls for his scam and supposedly goes back in time 5 minutes multiple times and has to give him money each time to prevent seeing her future self and tearing a hole in the space-time continuum.

(8) – Is This a Dream?

Written by Katrina Samaras / Directed by Lily Christie Daly

Cast: Olivia Harris, Naoise Champion, Lillian Woods and Annie May Roberts


The final play of the evening tackles the sensitive yet popular theme of depression. It takes a surreal, melodramatic and also charmingly comedic approach to the experience. The heroine dreams of meeting female icons Dorothy from Wizard of Oz, Joan of Arc and Florence Nightingale. The relatable subject matter intertwined with surrealist comedy is sure to charm over audiences, which makes sense as it won first place in the audience vote. Perfectly cast, beautifully and hilariously acted, and intelligently written; “Is This a Dream?” puts an absurd twist on familiar subject matter.

Don’t miss Week 2 of Short+Sweet Illawarra – our final instalment of ten-minute theatre.

WEEK 2 | 18-21 OCTOBER 2018
at the Bridge Street Theatre, Coniston
Home of the Phoenix Theatre Co.

Tickets $27 Adult | $22 Concession

Performances Thursday, Friday & Saturday @ 7:30 PM
and Sunday @ 5:30pm (Followed by Presentation Ceremony)



Preview: 24 Hour Theatre Illawarra 2018

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Our writers for 24 Hour Theatre Illawarra have all completed their scripts, and we are very excited with what lies ahead, with a great standard of writing across the board. It is truly amazing what our writers were able to achieve in less than 6 hours, in the middle of the night.

Now the pressure turns to our actors, the brave warriors whose job it is now to learn, interpret and perform these original works this evening at the Bridge Street Theatre Coniston.

We are pleased to announce the cast, writers and the plays that we will be performing at 7:30pm for one night only. Tickets are still available, book now to secure your seat!


Goddesses written by Tom Peach

Starring Sophie Bentley, Tahlia Crinis, Cara Severino and Charlotte Cuff


Frank, as part of this last wishes, has asked his family to compose an epitaph to be used on his gravestone. As they struggle to come up with a few lines that express their frustration with the old man, old jealousies, slights, and frustrations re-surface.


It’s Only Me written by Alexander Cuff

Starring Bradley Ward, Jarrod Riesinger, Arthur Gallagher and Bryson Grenfell


Harold is stopped from boarding his bus by a version of him from an alternate reality, who tells him that all of the other alternate Harolds in the multiverse are being hunted to extinction. Now, the last surviving Harolds have united to discuss a course of action, but what is the real problem here?


Paper Dolls written by Billie Acosta

Starring Charmaine Sharp, Brandon Fairley, Kiah Sassall, Stephanie McAulay and Carina Louise


Are we really as one dimensional as the script suggests? Maybe the status quo has its place in society – maybe that’s what holds us together, binds us, makes us feel accepted and necessary. And maybe it’s our biggest problem. Maybe we don’t fit into boxes after all?


Dreams by Matthew Latham

A monologue starring Nat McConchie


When a young girl who only ever wanted to make shoes, is dragged into a world of sorcery and violence when she heads out alone one day to chop wood. She uses her wits to survive and enact a brutal revenge plot, but battle not with monsters, let ye become a monster. For when you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.


The Star written by Charlotte Smee

A monologue performed by Dylan Horvat.


Clement Harrington III is a professional auditioner, without a driver’s licence or any concept of constructive criticism. He’s been trying to get his big break for years, but no producer seems to want his big, bold ideas or his dashing features and impeccable dress. He can even cry on cue! So why doesn’t he ever get the part?


All Locked Up written by James Turnbull

Starring Sam Sweeting, Lisa Omodei, Jarrod Sleiman, Cameron Johnstone and Byron Faulkner


Five inmates attempt to break out of the notorious Gold Hole International Prison, but their Boss is hiding a secret that will shake the very foundations of their gang. Can they hold it together long enough to make it out, or will lies, deceit and treachery reign supreme?


The Rhythm of the Night written by Sevgi Murphy

Starring Alex Groombridge, Andrew Courtney, Bernadette Le Mesurier and Robert Bruce


Follows the story of John’s family who are learning to re-create their lives after an accident which has left John immobilised for life. Concealed feelings of resent, anger, frustration and guilt seem to be constantly rising to the surface as the mystery of what really happened on the night of the accident is revealed. Will this family ever truly live peacefully again and successfully leave the rhythm of that horrendous night in the past?


Mystic Nights written by Mary Stanley

Starring Jen Jackson, Chloe Brock, Nathan Edwards, Clara Saddi and Sam Bruce


Reporters Tracey and Richard interview three of the most renowned psychics in Mount Druitt to find answers that will lead to the whereabouts of missing boy Brodie Decker.

Devised Piece – Phoenix Theatre

Facilitated by Steen. Starring Aviva Sheb’a, Linda Campbell, Rory Holloway and Dylan Gee


The Phoenix Theatre, eager to trial some fresh methods of creating devised theatre in Australia are joining Black Box in the challenge of 24 Hour Theatre – devising, not writing an original play in 24 Hours. Stay tuned for more information about this unique piece as it is created during the day…






Team Captains: 24 Hour Theatre Illawarra 2018

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One Night to Write, One Day To Play

The teams have been locked in for Black Box Theatre’s 24 Hour Theatre Illawarra – 7:30pm this Saturday night at the Bridge Street Theatre Coniston, home of the Phoenix Theatre. Nine original short plays will be created all within just one day!

Team lists are kept top secret until 24 hours from showtime, meaning actors and writers remain guessing as to who they will be working with for the one night only performance. We would, however, like to introduce the team captains for our nine short plays.

Rumour has it the cast have been busy trying to predict the makeup of the teams, including which actors will be given one of the two first ever Monologues in 24 Hour Theatre Illawarra. Their list for who is getting the monologues can now be narrowed down to two of the captains announced today – no doubt forcing them to go back to the drawing board with their predictions.

This year, we will also be keeping which writers our captains have been allocated to under lock and key until Friday night’s briefing.


Bradley Ward

16904585_1249168675178720_5385533647264944431_oBradley graduated from the University of Wollongong in 2013 with a Bachelor of Performance (Acting). He has spent the years since experimenting with every style of theatre he can get his hands on, including Musicals, Radio Plays, Short Plays, Dinner Theatre and Improvisation. Performing mostly in the Illawarra, Macarthur and Sydney areas, he has somehow also found the time to write and direct several productions. This is his fourth time participating in 24 Hour Theatre, including being in two that progressed to Short+Sweet Sydney .

“There is no experience quite like it. You fly through the day on an extended adrenaline rush, kept on track by dedication to your team and writer, taking the stage to perform a script written specifically with you in mind. The trauma bonding you undertake with your fellow actors is unbreakable, turning to each other years later to reminisce on that insane, blur of a day.”

Aviva Sheb’a

164989_10151749997510312_603092705_nAviva Sheb’a graduated from full-time dance school in 1968. Studies included classical ballet (Cecchetti Method), jazz dance, various types of national dance, some tap, and her favourite, Classical Spanish and Flamenco dance, as well as singing.  Aviva developed Vocal Dance as a way to express her innermost feelings when words failed, and taught her method in many countries.  At seventeen, she toured the Vietnam War as a flamenco dancer — with a Rhythm and Blues band. Throughout Vietnam, she heard, “This is a war zone, Baby — improvise!” That became her motto for life, and eventually the title of her one-woman show. Currently Aviva is developing her War Zone sequel, Apuckerlips Now.

“I can hardly wait to rise to whatever challenges 24 Hour Theatre brings! How will I move and give voice? Will it be hilarious, deadly serious? Something I’ve never done before? Who will I perform with? I cannot wait to find out.”

Jen Jackson

560154_10200446607876595_1523830413_nJen has a strong comedic and improvised theatre performance background and returns again for her fourth 24 Hour Theatre Illawarra. She is a current member of The Improverts and has been a team anchor for the Wollongong Comedy team in Playmates since 2013. Jen has also worked on Sydney shows, such as Crash Test Drama and Short+Sweet Sydney. Jen spent over a decade working with the Brook Theatre based in the Blue Mountains and worked with Sydney Interactive Theatre for three years. She has also done several short courses and a six month program at NIDA and has become an Illawarra favourite, especially at 24 Hour Theatre.

“What I love most about 24 Hour Theatre is easily the people – for sure! It involves all the people I love, people I get to see and perform with, and celebrate making great theatre with! I love the amazing adrenaline of smashing out a script in a day – call me crazy but I love it. I wonder though, if I can learn Bradley Wards 45 minute 2017 play in 9 hours rehearsal, what’s next!”


Sophie Bentley

12112282_10200939605528332_7585349470089655399_nSophie currently studies Acting at the Academy of Film, Theatre and Television. She has performed with the IPAC Drama Studio for over a decade, and has done shows including Macbeth, Silent Laughter, Alice in Wonderland and more. Last year she Played Mary in Roo Theatre’s Our Country’s Good and is about to go into production for Roo’s highly anticipated staging of 1984. Sophie is also lead actress in Black Box’s short play The Quality of Life which has advanced to the Short+Sweet Sydney Gala Finals in two weeks after winning best play by both audience and judges. The Quality of Life was written by Sevgi Murphy at last year’s 24 Hour Theatre and adapted to the ten minute form.

 “24 Hour Theatre is such a challenging and rewarding experience. Your adrenaline and excitement for the project pushes you to do things that you never thought you would be able to do, and by the end of it, you are so proud of everything that was achieved. The whole experience is a blast, and I’m excited to see what happens this year!”

Sam Sweeting

13615294_1014067828711889_2044506814816248382_nSam Sweeting has been on stage in multiple local Wollongong productions, including Red vs Blue, Alice Through a Looking Glass Darkly, Grimm Tales, Tempest, and Cannibal the Musical. He has also  directed in both Bridgeworks productions held at the Phoenix Theatre. Sam was also Co-Director and Artistic Director for Red vs Blue, also at the Phoenix Theatre.

He has also been in Our Neighbourhood: A Play with Songs, and Albert and Jameson: A Play with Vampires, at Wollongong Workshop Theatre, and followed both of those shows to Sydney at the Sydney Fringe Festival.

Sam has been a regular with Black Box Theatre, participating in the last 4 years of Playmates. He currently holds the Playmates Trophy The Golden Gong after his University team won their second grand final victory. He is looking forward to his third 24 Hour Theatre having participated the previous two years. He has participated in several plays selected to be restaged at Short+Sweet Sydney under the Black Box Theatre banner, including 2017 Gala Finalist Time Squad as well as next week’s Wildcards Finals entry Badda Bing Badda Bang – advancing to the Wildcards Finals to compete to enter the Gala Finals!

“Every year has been a good time and I’m excited to see what the new writers and performers will bring to the table.”

Dylan Horvat

26000987_1764096960269016_7708360017011127313_nDylan is an actor, director, writer, stand-up comedian and improv comedian who has acted for 24 Hour Theatre every year since 2015. Notable roles include Barry Hollis in “Hating Alison Ashley“, Tim Allgood in “Noises Off“, Vinnie in “The Odd Couple“, Alan Roderick in “Othello“, Hipockets Duncan in “The Buddy Holly Story“, and Aide Williams in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” at Roo Theatre.

Dylan also played Sarge in “Red vs Blue” and Israel Swan in “Cannibal the Musical” at Phoenix Theatre; and Mr Big / Agent 44 in “Get Smart” at Workshop Theatre. Dylan  directed “SignAL” at Wollongong Workshop Theatre, assistant directed “Peter Pan” at Roo Theatre and written for Phoenix’s “Tales from the Wasteland” as well as IYAP’s “Virus” and “Lost Along the Way“.

Dylan recently made his Sydney acting debut, appearing in Black Box’s ten minute sci-fi comedy The Human Trap written and directed by Alexander Cuff in the Short+Sweet Sydney Wildcards.

“I’m addicted. 24 Hour Theatre is my heroin. I need it. Just one more time then I’ll quit, I swear …. (I totally won’t quit)”

Alex Groombridge

10322795_10153879842257577_3512600692864919776_nAlex acted in the last two years of 24 hour theatre and returns to take on team captaincy for the first time. Last year, Alex’s piece Pieces of Time was selected to perform in Short+Sweet Sydney with a revamped version of the 24 Hour Theatre piece (2016) later named Time Squad, written by Alexander Cuff. Time Squad won best play by judges of its week in the Top 80 and performed in last year’s Short+Sweet Sydney Gala Finals.

A few weeks ago, Alex’s 2017 24 Hour Theatre play The Human Trap was sent to the Short+Sweet Wildcards. It finished its season runner up in people’s choice voting, with sister Black Box entry Badda Bing Badda Bang finishing first in audience voting.

Alex has also acted in short plays Ichabod Undead, For Hire (Bridgeworks), and Wasteland Doctor (Tales From The Wasteland) at the Phoenix Theatre. She played Polly Pry in Cannibal the Musical and has acted in many other productions, including musicals since 2014.

“I love the adrenaline rush you get from having to put a play together in such a small amount of time, and the teamwork it requires to do that. You really get to learn your strengths and weaknesses.”


Nat McConchie

29104348_1449514338491969_925895700913324032_nAfter having spent a decade studying dance, Nat has looked to other performance crafts to add to her creative repertoire including acting where she now finds herself in her third year at the University of Wollongong studying Theatre.

Nat recently performed in Black Box Theatre’s Short+Sweet Sydney Top 80 winning production of The Quality of Life alongside fellow team captain Sophie Bentley and Beth Fuller, and she is very much looking to staging it one last time at the Short+Sweet Sydney Gala Finals in two weeks time.

“I love 24 Hour Theatre, mainly because it’s fun and tricky. This time around, I really hope I get to perform in something like Freud the musical but with food fights and dance numbers. And pipes. And bagels…”

Charmaine Sharp

12717383_1031226083566643_7867140448668715162_nCharmaine is currently studying Bachelor of Performance at the University of Wollongong and is in her second year. Outside her studies, she has performed in most Phoenix Theatre shows last year, notably Slacky Flat and Jadore Lemore. She enjoyed her first 24 Hour Experience and is excited to return for another challenge! Her performance and team work was particularly noted by the producer and the Black Box production team, and is excited to see her leadership skills develop as Team Captain.

“I want to be challenged and really show what I can do. 24 Hour Theatre is a really good opportunity to put your skills to the test and that’s what I want to do, and after my experience last year I feel pretty confident that it’s going to be another thrilling experience.”



produced by Black Box Theatre | #24HourTheatreIllawarra |

Plays in 24 Hour Theatre may contain coarse language and adult themes.

Black Box cannot guarantee there will be tickets available for sale at the door. We strongly urge audience to pre-purchase their tickets now to avoid disappointment as seats are strictly limited.

Don’t have a credit card? You can email us and tell us how many tickets you need (how many Adults/Concessions) and we will reserve your seats and just pay in cash at Box Office*. Simply email

*Please note these tickets need to be collected before 7:15pm Saturday night or they will be released for door sales.












Introducing our new Cast Members for S+S Finals

The excitement of two of our three short plays submitted to Short+Sweet Sydney progressing to the finals series has grown considerably with two new family members. There’s a new face to both Gala Finalist The Quality of Life and Wildcards Finalist Badda Bing Badda Bang.

Unfortunately, the dates of the return season clash for two of our family members, Beth Fuller (Quality of Life) and Bryson Grenfell (Badda Bing Badda Bang). To these actors, we are saddened not being able share the stage with you in the finals, and from everyone at Black Box, as well as your entire fellow cast and creative team, we want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Without each of you along the journey we could not have staged the wonderful pieces of ten-minute theatre that we did.

bronte_hsTalented actress Bronte Pearce, who first bonded with the cast from Quality of Life back in week 4, steps in to play Dr Simpson. Bronte is an actor from Queensland but is currently based in Sydney where she graduated from The Actor’s Workshop and has since performed in various independent theatre productions. Bronte boasts an impressive professional resume including several US feature films shot on the Gold Coast including Pirates of the Caribbean: dead men tell no tales, San Andreas and Thor: Ragnorok. Bronte is currently in production on an Australian Television series and has recently been cast in a lead role in a new Australian feature film.

“I am so grateful for the opportunity to play this piece with such a strong team. I first saw Quality Of Life, performed by Sophie, Natalie and Beth during short and sweet week 4 run. I was so touched by the writing, the artistic direction and the performances, and couldn’t help but express to the whole team how moved I was. After having the joy of getting to know this talented bunch back stage it feels so wonderful to get to work with them so soon!” – Bronte Pearce

Black Box would like to also like to welcome Arthur Gallagher to our Wildcard piece Badda Bing Badda Bang. Stepping in to the lead role on short notice in an adrenalin-injected comedy is no easy task, however director Jarrod Sleiman and producer Luke Berman were blown away by the audition of Arthur, and feel relieved that we have someone of his caliber to fill some big shoes left by Bryson.

arthur_cropArthur has been involved with a variety of film and stage productions, taking on countless amateur productions with roles including Richard III, Lady Bracknell, Dr Frankenstien, Hamlet, Estragon, Pumba, Doug from Cosi and Biff from Death of a Salesman. Arthur showed an amazing stage presence and ability to commit to his character with the abilities of an actor far beyond his years, and Black Box is excited to have him as our front-man in the Wildcard Finals, as well as in the up-coming 24 Hour Theatre Illawarra.

Welcome to the Black Box family Bronte and Arthur! We are looking forward to working with you both!

Don’t miss our new-look plays in the finals at the Tom Mann Theatre Sydney!

Saturday 31st March – Sunday 1st April
Written by Tom Peach, Directed by Jarrod Sleiman, Asst Directed by Monica Kickert and Luke Berman. Starring Arthur Gallagher, Sam Lovell, Sam Sweeting and James Turnbull.

Thursday 5th – Saturday 7th April
Written by Sevgi Murphy, directed by Luke Berman. Starring Sophie Bentley, Bronte Pearson and Nat McConchie.


Short+Sweet Sydney Success!

Congratulations to all three of our short plays which performed in week four of Short+Sweet Sydney 2018. All three plays impressed, with both The Quality of Life and Badda Bing Badda Bang being chosen to advance to the finals series!

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In the Top 80, Sevgi Murphy’s The Quality of Life won best production by both Judges and People’s Choice voting, and has been invited to advance straight to the high profile GALA FINALS 5th – 7th April 2018 at the Tom Mann Theatre. They will perform alongside the best plays of the festival. Congratulations to the cast (Sophie Bentley, Nat McConchie and Beth Fuller), our writer Sevgi Murphy and director Luke Berman.

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In our Wildcards, Tom Peach’s Badda Bing Badda Bang advanced to the WILDCARDS FINALS after winning People’s Choice and was also runner up best production as voted by the Judges. It will be fighting to join the cast of Quality of Life in the Gala Finals.
Wildcards run 31st March – 1st April. Congratulations to writer Tom Peach, director Jarrod Sleiman and cast Bryson Grenfell, Sam Lovell, Sam Sweeting and the very brave James Turnbull, who finished their play (and curtain call) with a split lip requiring 6 stitches!

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The Human Trap written and directed by Alexander Cuff was also hugely successful, finishing 2nd place in People’s Choice voting in what was a very strong Wildcard line-up. Congratulations to Alexander Cuff for his wonderful leadership and direction, and to his cast Dylan Horvat, James Turnbull, Alex Groombridge, Jarrod Sleiman and Vu Moyo.

Black Box Theatre would like to extend a massive THANK YOU to fellow actor James Coates who kindly drove James to hospital immediately after the final Wildcard performance – James made it back just in time to learn that his Wildcard piece won best play in judges voting and will join Badda Bing Badda Bang in the Wildcards final. Your victory was well deserved with a beautiful piece about love and separation, and we look forward to seeing you in a few weeks!

A huge thanks also goes to audience member and Black Box member Glenn Wanstall for his support at hospital, and getting James back to the theatre following his stitches. This goes to show what wonderful love and support is generated by the festival, and Black Box Theatre is indebted to both James and Glenn, thank you to both these wonderful human beings.

We had a huge amount of support also from Wollongong audience who made the trek up to the city to support our shows, and we hope to see you again for our finals charge!

7:30pm Thursday 5th April – Saturday 7th April 2018 
 at the Tom Mann Theatre | Chalmers Street Surrey Hills

3:30pm Saturday 31st March
2:30pm Sunday 1st April at the Tom Mann Theatre | Chalmers Street Surrey Hills


Meet our Judges and Hosts for Playmates 2017

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130 Keira Street Wollongong

Playmates Host: BRADLEY WARD – Black Box Theatre

13620218_10209790469789298_1311847038317889706_nBradley graduated from the University of Wollongong with a Bachelor of Performance (Acting) in 2013, and has acted in over 20 productions in the years since. While the majority of these roles have been in traditional plays and musicals, Bradley has tried whenever possible to do new and interesting things; he has twice represented Black Box Theatre at Short + Sweet Sydney, including their 2017 Gala Finalist play “Time Squad”; He has performed in the premiere shows of two different Improv Troupes – “The Improverts” by The Improverts, and “Attack of the 50ft Improv” by Room for Improvement; and he had the pleasure of writing, directing and acting in the verbatim piece “Beautiful Chaotic Nonsense” in 2016. Some of Bradley’s favourite past productions include: Our Country’s Good, The Seagull, The Hatpin, Oh! It’s A Lovely War, Godspell, Three Sisters and Woyzeck.

Playmates Timekeeper: Alex Perritt – Black Box Theatre

17760245_386605821722780_4573842077743211358_nAlex has been involved in theatre since the age of 8. Growing up in a family of actors, writers and directors, He has been creatively focused for most of his life, even putting on elaborate puppet shows in his backyard. Alex spent about 10 years doing theatre in Nowra and the Shoalhaven area then went on to study acting at the University of Wollongong. He recently spent 3 years living in Auckland, New Zealand where he got to do a bit of work in film. He is currently back at university repenting for a life of creativity by doing a ‘real’ degree, though he is discouraged from saying what it is.


MARK CLEARY  Founder / Creative Direcor Short+Sweet International

markcleary_webMark Cleary is a writer, director and producer. He is the founder and creative director of Short+Sweet, the hugely successful Australian homegrown 10 minute play festival that is rapidly expanding around the country and the world with programs in theatre, music and dance in India, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, New Zealand,  USA and beyond.

He was artistic director of Newtown Theatre for 17 years and the Founder and inaugural chairman of the Newtown Entertainment Precinct Association which owns and manages the Sydney Fringe Festival. Before his full-time involvement in the arts he was a journalist, editor and publisher for newspapers and magazines and, in another incarnation, copywriter, creative director and partner in a Sydney based advertising agency.

NICK BOLTON – Ten Alphas

nick-bolton_6183Nick Bolton is an actor, director and producer in film, video and theatre. His production company TEN ALPHAS creates content like TVC’s and branded content for Mission Australia, Telstra, Google, and more.

He recently produced and acted in the Australian feature film Rough Stuff, and has two documentaries out in the next 6months.

Nick has acted on most of the stages in Sydney, in over a dozen TVC’s, too many corporate pieces to mention, and on TV shows like The Killing Ground, Deadly Women.

He made his Illawarra stage debut in Luke Berman’s ‘Our Country’s Good‘ for Roo Theatre earlier this year and promises not to be biased towards his fellow cast members performing in tonight’s Playmates. Word.

MICHELLE RAKOS – The Improverts

IMG_4131From the age of 16, Michelle has been involved in improvised theatre. First as part of a national championship winning team in Canada, and later as a team member, host, developer and director of over 40 improv shows.

She has appeared in many theatre productions over the years, written and directed many plays, taught drama to high school students for 5 years, taught drama at a specialty school, was a developer of a mobile children’s theatre troop and has appeared in a few movies. She now moonlights as an inventor and hopes to make ‘Squirrel Underpants’ (patent pending) the new way that people connect with nature.

*Note that ‘Squirrel Underpants’ are not to be misconstrued as underpants for squirrels, that is Michelle’s next big invention, and will be called ‘Underpants for Squirrels.’ the overwhelming response to the Go Fund Me campaign has indicated that they will be the next Fidget Spinners. Also coming, Fidget Spinners for squirrels (still in the development stage).

TOM PEACH – Writer, Director

image1Tom Peach is one of the area’s leading playwrights, and an experienced director and actor. His most recent play “The Old Viaduct Hotel” was performed in Kings Cross to great reviews and his most recent directorial work, “The Importance of Being Earnest“, played to a sold out run in Stanwell Park. Tom’s next play “Badda Bing Badda Bang” is on in the Short and Sweet Sydney Wildcards season, and he is directing a play in the Top 80.

Tom has a notorious inability to write comedy, although he appreciates it in other people.

Meet the SPAT Team | Playmates 2017

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Bernadette Le Mesurier | SPAT

Bernadette is an actor, playwright and director. She has acted professionally on the big screen, but has also performed on stage for SPAT, Arcadians and Black Box Theatre’s 24 Hour Theatre project. She has nine years’ experience at SPAT playing everything from chorus member to titular character Puss in Boots and has had four of her written plays performed at SPAT and two at Wollongong Workshop Theatre’s Workshorts. Her 2017 Workshorts play won audience favourite.

This year is Bernadette’s third appearance on the Playmates stage, all with SPAT and is still gloating over SPAT’s first Playmates triumph on the ten year anniversary stage. Bernadette is a peace loving human, whose love for her fellow team members outweighs any competitiveness…

“I’m looking forward to smashing those other teams until their teeth are ground to paste and their limbs are hanging… I mean a fair and fun competition with everyone being treated equally. If some people from the extreme Northern Illawarra are treated more equal than others, well, who knew, right?”

Bernadette’s passion and commitment is always a joy to watch on stage, her vibrant energy and sense of fun is always a wonderful addition to our annual showcase.


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Justin James Clayden | SPAT

Justin is an Illawarra actor who has worked on several productions with TheatreMax, Wollongong Workshop Theatre and the Phoenix Theatre. His credits include Secrets of St Just (actor/writer), SignAL, and two plays in Tales From the Wasteland – All Nuked Up, and Practicing Medicine

In his first crack at improvisation, Justin impressed many by his support of his team members, dedication, professionalism and bravery. He states being 80% excited and 20% nervous and is looking forward to all the ‘unexpected magic’ that is about to present itself on Saturday night.

Berman: What game are you hoping your team will play this year?

Justin:  Slow Motion Commentary, Slideshow, Song, Party Quirks, Murder Endowments, Opera, Show Stopping Number, Play in the Style of…

Berman: That’s most of the games. Is there any games you hope you don’t get?

Justin: Not really.

Berman: I like you.



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Lisa Murray | SPAT

Lisa will be bravely going where she has never gone before, under stage lights in one of the hardest gigs imaginable – improvised comedy. In 2014 she performed her own monologue script for the Out of Time student showcase at UOW, which has led her to create other incidences in the public domain which includes looking as spectacular as a jilted bride, or wearing a lunch bag painted with ruby red lips over her head and ride about on public transport as she goes about daily tasks.

Lisa was labelled a poet at birth and recently installed a sequence of text within a reservoir for Randwick Council’s 2017 NOX Night Sculpture Walk where she posed as an artist for the entire event.

When asked what she is looking forward to in Playmates this year, Lisa answers in true poetic style:

A death
and a rebirth
A loose screw
and an impossible conclusion
A downward spiral
and an upbeat song
EVERYTHING, except my own body parts poking me in the eye.

Lisa is quickly catching on to the fun rivalry that the teams have been enjoying in the lead up to Playmates, and like others, has her eyes firmly on defending champions University.

“ALL the teams look fabulously hellish… I’d say Alexander Cuffs team will be in the grand final round mostly because he appears to be very aggressive about bribing the judges.”

When asked what she would do if given a large elephant, Lisa shows us how wonderfully creative and imaginative she is.

“I’d deflate it and pop it in a archival box with fragile written on the side and one day when there are no more elephants left for monkeys to sit on I’d reinflate it and we’d share a pot of tea while watching the sun go down.”

Berman: Why did you want to participate in Playmates?

Lisa: An email fell in my lap, I had no idea what Playmates was, but when I learned what it was all about I thought WOW! An opportunity to make fun of myself with others, I’m not up to much at the moment, I wonder if I can do this kind of a gig, let’s go see.



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Katy Loader | SPAT

Katy has been involved with Stanwell Park Arts Theatre for 5 years and counting. She is a regular performer in the annual pantomimes held every year around Christmas time. She has also performed at other theatres, such as the Blood Moon Theatre in Kings Cross, and the Wollongong Workshop Theatre.

Katy is a much loved performer with the SPAT group, and is very excited at being welcomed within the Playmates family. Her fun loving nature and her natural ability to perform is always a joy to watch. Out of all the games, Katy is hoping for any game where she can sing her heart out, although is somewhat apprehensive about getting the game Moving Bodies.

She is currently busy getting ready to perform in SPAT’s annual Pantomime – Miss Lily’s Holiday Home and The Stealing of Christmas.

“I’ll be playing a minor role, but I get to sing at least. It will open the Saturday after Playmates, so get tickets now!”

Meet the ROO THEATRE team | Playmates 2017


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DYLAN HORVAT  (Team Captain)

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Dylan Horvat – Roo Theatre team captain Playmates 2017

Dylan returns for his third successive Playmates as Roo Theatre’s team captain. Dylan who was Playmate’s most enthusiastic and fanatical audience member has fast become a crowd favourite. This will be Dylan’s 5th overall improv comedy show having also performed with local improv groups The Improverts and The Gullibles (2009). He’s mostly an actor, performing with Phoenix, Workshop, IYAP and mostly Roo over the past 11 years, in shows such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Red vs Blue, Get Smart and The Wedding Singer. He’s directed SignAL, assistant directed Peter Pan and written for the shows Virus, Lost Along the Way and Tales From the Wasteland. He’s performed as a stand-up comedian many times since 2008.

“I am really looking forward to working with a team with this much chemistry and receiving much completely fair and unbribed praise from each judge. Playmates is the only way I’ll ever have mates to play with.”

When asked about which other team he is worried about, Dylan says latecomers Black Box pose a particular threat.

“Black Box. Definitely Black Box. I hear the judges have to give them the most points cause they’re running the show.”

Dylan is currently writing a one act play called Teacher Strike which will be performed at Roo Theatre in September 2018, alongside Safe written by University team member David Rienits. Both plays make up the show called Wild.



James returns for his second crack at Playmates, returning yet again on the Roo Theatre team.

“They said you should learn from your mistakes but evidently I haven’t listened. But this time we’re back funnier, stronger and handsomer.”

James has been in the theatre scene for almost ten years now and he has enjoyed every minute of it. He is a frequent crew member / actor at many theatres throughout the Illawarra, and the stage is a big part of his life. But he is very excited to return to the Playmates arena for another crack at the title.

“Playmates feels like going on a first date, but instead of a cute girl, it’s a large group of people, and instead of a nice candlelit dinner it’s a stunning arrangement of some of the Illawarra’s most talented comedians, actors and theatre professionals. But at least with Playmates this year, I an equally talented and funny team to c̶a̶r̶r̶y̶ support through the wild process. So yeah, I’m pretty keen.”

When asked if there are any improv games he hopes Roo doesn’t have to play, he replies:

“My Slow Brain™ makes Show Stopping Number a real hassle, as both coming up with comedy and coherent lyrics that rhyme requires a level of mental finesse that I’m not sure I’m capable of. I just hope we don’t have to go up against the University team.  We all know those uni boys and girls absorb the comedic talents of all the great comedians just before the show like the guys in Space Jam, that’s how they’re so consistently funny 24/7. But other than that it’s fair game. We’ve got some exciting new talent and some amazing Playmates regulars coming back for more.”

Berman: You’ve been given an elephant. You can’t give it away or sell it. What would you do with the elephant?

James: Challenge it in a fight to the death, if I die, so be it, if it dies I claim my dominance over the animal kingdom.

James is currently rehearsing for his Sydney acting debut, with Black Box Theatre’s Wildcard submission to Short+Sweet Sydney 2018 in Tom Peach’s Badda Bing Badda Bang directed by young emerging director, and Roo Theatre team member Jarrod Sleiman.



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Alex Groombridge | Roo Theatre Team

Alex has been performing since she was 11, starting out as a musician. In 2014 she, on an impulse, signed up to do Jesus Christ Superstar in Campbelltown, and fell in love with theatre.
Since then she has been consistently acting in theatre (and an Australian film) when I can and, this year, performed in the Gala Finals of Short +Sweet in the play Time Squad written by fellow play-mate Alexander Cuff and directed by Luke Berman for Black Box Theatre. She has also been a regular actor for Black Box’s 24 Hour Theatre Illawarra.

This will be Alex’s first ever Playmates, and admits to feeling both excited and a little nervous.

“I’m working alongside some hilarious people, which can be a bit intimidating, but I’m proud of the team I’m in and I know we’re going to have a great time. 2017 has been the year I’ve really been able to challenge myself as a performer, and Playmates seemed like the next logical step. Every year I’ve seen it, I’ve wanted to be a part of it and this year it felt right to go ahead and put my hand up to participate.”

Alex had her first taste of the Playmates games that are played at the recent training day, and has taken a liking to a couple of games in particular, but admits to having nightmares about getting others…

“I hope we get Slideshow because it will really test how well our team knows each other, and I love how absurd some of the scenes can get. Also Emotional Rollercoaster, because I absolutely revel in having to change and justify how my character is reacting, at the drop of a hat (that one is easily my favourite). But I’ll murder our captain Dylan if he chooses any game that requires singing. Despite being a musician, I’ve always been garbage at coming up with lyrics.”

Berman: What do you want to be when you grow up?

Alex: I’m never growing up! But if I do, I want to rule over my own micronation, like a principality or something. I’ll sell noble titles, wear a crown, the national animal will be the graceful pigeon, and I’ll only communicate with people via parchment and fountain pen. People far and wide will come to the principality to see the mysterious and eccentric Alex Groombridge, and I will say to the people “Oh man! What’s the haps?”

Alex is soon to be a special guest star violinist on Devil Went Down to Georgia, with the School of Rock band, playing at Campbelltown Theatre on December 9th and 10th.


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Jarrod Sleiman | Roo Theatre 

Jarrod has been an actor for pretty much his entire life, and has made many positive impressions on those who have worked with him, showing glimpses of brilliance rarely seen in other eighteen year-old theatre makers. Some of his stage credits include The King & I, The Pirates of Penzance, Macbeth, Red Vs Blue, Peter Pan, Cannibal! The Musical, 13, and Shrek. Earlier this year Jarrod directed his first show Tales from the Wasteland, a show written by 7 local writers, including himself.

Jarrod returns to Playmates after making his debut on the Roo Theatre team last year.

“I had a great time last year, I learnt a lot and I think our team are a chance this year. It’s going to be a good night, I get to be around some of my closest friends, and make some new ones. I’m a little nervous, but that’s just because Berman threatened to whip me if i’m not funny.”

Jarrod was recently selected to direct a ten minute play in Short+Sweet Sydney under Black Box Theatre as recognition for his ambitious directing debut, and is being mentored by the hardened Black Box Artistic Director. He has a electric cast at his disposal and a wonderful script written by Tom Peach. He is also currently writing a sequel to Hamlet which he hopes will be his Magnum Opus.

Playmates Illawarra Cast Announcement

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Our teams of improvisers have been finalised and we are looking at yet another strong year. This year, The Drama Studio will be cheering on the sidelines, and will return in 2018. For this year only, Black Box Theatre will field a team in The Drama Studios place.

Returning again in 2017 are the defending champions from University, Wollongong Workshop Theatre, Roo Theatre, Stanwell Park Arts Theatre, and Wollongong Comedy.

UNIVERSITY: Alexander Cuff (captain), David Rienits, Lisa Omodei and Sam Sweeting

WORKSHOP THEATRE: Sam Lovell (captain), Kelly Nicholson, Bryson Grenfell and Jarrod Riesinger

ROO THEATRE: Dylan Horvat (captain), James Turnball, Alex Groombridge and Jarrod Sleiman

STANWELL PARK ARTS THEATRE (SPAT): Bernadette Le Mesurier (captain), Justin Clayden, Lisa Murray and Katy Loader

WOLLONGONG COMEDY: Adam Armit (captain), Wayne Peoples, Sally Lopez and Jen Jackson

BLACK BOX THEATRE: Honora Jenkins (captain), Brenton Amies, Irene Nicola and Charlotte Cuff

Hosted by Bradley Ward and Alex Perritt


We strongly recommend pre-purchasing tickets now! Limited tickets available at the door.


Or email your booking details to and state your booking name, contact phone number and the amount of tickets you would like to reserve. You can pay in cash at the Box Office on the night.

Plays Selected for Short+Sweet Sydney – 24 Hour Theatre

Black Box Theatre is pleased to announce the plays that have been chosen to form its Top 80 and Wildcard submission to Short+Sweet Sydney 2018. The strength of writing from all seven of our talented writers was well noted by our live audience at 24 Hour Theatre. Upon completion of the show, our writers were given just one week to edit, rework and condense their scripts to the ten minutes, and submit their reworked scripts for consideration to have a second life.

All of our writers out-did themselves and each managed to encapsulate the essence of their play, and all had beautifully reworked dialogue. Each of them now has in their portfolio, a strong play that is able to hold its own with any short play festival around the world.

It is a compliment also to some writers, whose original scripts were mostly in tact after little editing, including a clever and witty script from young writer Ace Povey-Robertson with his gangster comedy Hotel Aspen II: Janitorial Indescretion and David Rienit’s Balance & Friction.

Both selected plays will be submitted for performance, and director Luke Berman is excited about staging these contrasting and beautifully dynamic pieces of ten minute theatre.

The plays that Black Box Theatre will be submitting for Short+Sweet are:

TOP 80 – The Quality of Life by Sevgi Murphy

Cast: Sophie Bentley, Nat McConchie and Beth Fuller-McGoldrick

WILDCARD – Badda Bing Badda Bang by Tom Peach

Cast: Bryson Grenfell, Sam Lovell, Sam Sweeting and Mathew Latham

Black Box would also like to give honourable mentions to David Rienits’ moving and brave drama Balance and Friction, Alexander Cuff’s The Human Trap and a very impressive ten-minute adaption of Family Drama by Diana McLaren who were each strongly considered to tour.

Black Box is exploring other options for all our writers on how to further develop and promote their scripts to stages in Sydney, Canberra and in short play festivals around the world. We would like to thank everyone who was involved and everyone who supported 24 Hour Theatre in what was an electric evening.