No: Intermission is back after a short break

A photo of "Girl Shut Your Mouth" by Gita Bezard at the Adelaide Fringe Festival, one of the plays to be included in the No: Intermission festival in Sydney. Photo: supplied.

The Sentinel speaks to Theatre Travel’s Carly Fisher about the No: Intermission festival and bouncing back after lockdown. 

On 15 March, 2020, Carly Fisher, Artistic Director at Theatre Travels, returned to Sydney after a very successful season at the Adelaide Fringe with No: Intermission, a festival of one-act plays. Adelaide, back then, was still in a ‘Covid bubble’ with no sign of the coronavirus. Alas, no such bubble in Sydney – lockdown had taken a thick texta and put big black crosses across the cultural calendar. Fisher kept rescheduling the Sydney season of No: Intermission until the original eight play festival became too logistically unwieldy and was cut down to four. 

Carly Fisher, Artistic Director at Theatre Travels. Photo: supplied.

“We were lucky and we managed to get the last two weeks available for all of 2021 at Chippen St Theatre. We’re just lucky that we’re working with theatres that are understanding and helpful, and we’re thrilled that it is finally happening and we cannot wait to bring it to the stage,” Fisher tells the Sentinel, now they can finally announce dates. 

It wasn’t just the theatres that showed flexibility; Covid tested the resilience and commitment of artists, too, says Fisher: “Every single one of the artists we had engaged turned around and said: ‘Okay we support you. You tell us when, we will keep moving our schedules. We’re behind you on this.’ That’s very lucky, that was a gift.”

A rehearsal for In Their Footsteps by Ashley Adelman. Photo: supplied.

The founding ideal of Theatre Travels is to give visibility and voice to new works and emerging artists, with a particular focus on women. 

“We’re one of the few independent fully female run companies; we have to stay true to what that means to us – we’re very proud of that,” says Fisher. 

The four one-act plays featured in No: Intermission were distilled from over 600 submissions received from around the world after an open call-out. The four selected each address deep social issues and have strong, realistic female characters.

Lipstick by Lane Stanley. Photo: supplied.

“Reading through them, there are stories where you can just tell that there is someone who is really trying to tell you something that they think is important,” explains Fisher, “something the audience needs to hear. And they’re the ones out of a group of 600 that get picked … they have to have something special, they have to have that spark about them.”

Each play is around 60–80 minutes long and there are two plays per night. In the first week of the festival the two plays are Rattling The Keys, an Australian drama about rural teens; and In Their Footsteps, a verbatim piece about women who served in the Vietnam War.

The second week features Girl Shut Your Mouth, a thriller about four teenage girls living in undefined danger; and Lipstick, an hilarious queer comedy. 

Fisher is directing and producing Girl Shut Your Mouth and In Your Footsteps. Girl Shut Your Mouth is the only play among the four that has already had a run – it debuted at the Adelaide Fringe and received very good reviews. 

Rattling The Keys by Zoe Muller. Photo: supplied.

“I love this play because it is intentionally vague,” says Fisher. “You put it where you think it goes as an audience member. It is about the plight of four young girls who will literally do anything to set themselves free in a tyranical and heinous world they’re living in; a very dangerous world.”

Despite their brevity, the plays have a full narrative arch. Fisher describes them as ‘compressed’. 

“I think it makes for a more vibrant show. I love going to one act shows … I love that quick rise to the climax.”

The No: Intermission festival runs Wednesday, 17 March to Saturday, 27 March, 6:45pm and 8pm, at Chippen Street Theatre, 45 Chippen St, Chippendale. Tickets from $27 are available from www.trybooking.com/bndop. For more information, visit www.theatretravels.org/no-intermission.